Browns Potential Draft Target: TE, Crockett Gillmore

Kevin C. Cox

In part 1 of my "Gillmore Series" I mentioned a quote from the movie Ratatouille as it relates to finding talent in the NFL- "Anybody can cook! But only the fearless can be great!" In part 2 of my Gillmore Series, I explain my draft grade and the talent that I see in Gillmore and how I believe his athletic ability, effort, and fearlessness as blocker projects in the NFL --- Spoiler Alert: I like his talent quite a bit.

Vitals

Crockett Gillmore has only played TE for 3 seasons but possesses the size, hands and athletic ability that has intrigued me. Gillmore is a big target - standing at 6'6" and weighing in at 260lbs. His 33.5" vertical is the 3rd best among TE's with only AC Leonard and Colt Lyerla showing better explosion ( check out all the combine performances in the 2014 Combine GoogleDoc ). His hands measured 10 3/8" and are the biggest in this years draft class. His 120" broad jump was third best among all TE's - again Leonard and Lyerla were only TE's to show better explosion ( 128").  Gillmore's arms measured 33 ¾" at the combine leaving only 3 players with longer arms (Troy Niklas, Nic Jacobs, and Marcel Jensen) and two with the same arm length (Rob Blanchflower and Austin Seferian-Jenkins).

Playing at Colorado State limited his exposure, especially as a converted TE from his original role as a DE, but he really took advantage of his opportunity at the Senior Bowl catching the eye of scouts. He's a fierce, hard working competitor who gives maximum effort on every play.

Production

Crockett jumped on the scene in 2011 following his transition to TE from DE and turned in some pretty significant production numbers. While he tapered off quite a bit in terms of production during his Junior season, but he finished on a strong note with his senior year quite arguably being his most productive year.

Gillmores_production_medium

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From the CSU Athletics Homepage:

2011 Sophomore Year - "Having shifted from defensive end to tight end just nine days before the spring game, and heading into fall camp as the Rams' No. 1 tight end, started all 12 games...A second-team all-conference selection (MW coaches/media, Phil Steele), finished 10th in the Mountain West with 3.75 receptions per game...Led the team in receptions (45), receiving yards (468) and TD catches (4), averaging 10.4 yards per grab, posting at least three catches in 11 of 12 games...Also threw a 27-yard TD pass...Became the first tight end to lead the Rams in receiving since All-American Keli McGregor in 1984."

2013 - Senior Year -  "Voted first-team All-Mountain West by vote of coaches and media for first time in his career...selected to play in the East-West Shrine Game and Senior Bowl (5-61, 1 TD), and received an invitation to the NFL Scouting Combine...started all 14 games and caught 47 passes for 577 yards (12.3) and two touchdowns...named to the Mackey Award Preseason and Midseason watch lists for Most Outstanding Tight End in NCAA Division I FBS...led all Mountain West tight ends and ranked ninth among all NCAA FBS tight ends in receiving yards, while his 47 receptions ranked sixth among all NCAA FBS tight ends and led the Mountain West...the 533 receiving yards marked the third-most by a CSU tight end in a single season.

  • Accepted an invitation to the East-West Shrine Game, the first Ram to be invited to this particular all-star game since 2009
  • Received an invitation to the Senior Bowl early in the week of the game...had a solid week of practice and excelled in the Senior Bowl game, leading all players with five receptions for 61 yards and a touchdown.
  • Had a season-long 52-yard reception in a win at New Mexico (Nov. 16) on which he threw four Lobo defenders off of him so he could gain another 20 yards...earned College Football Performance Awards Tight End Performer of the Week honors
  • Draft Grade

    Gillmores_grade_medium

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    Projection

    Although he's not from a big school with national recognition, I believe Gillmore has the athleticism and skill set to build into a potentially dominant starter.  I strongly believe that with a year or two of coaching - especially if he's drafted to a team with a strong veteran TE - Gillmore's raw skills will develop and he'll become a versatile starting TE in the NFL. I graded him as 2nd round talent.

    He is able to block both in-line and as a H-back split out wide and has even shown the ability to play as a LT and FB in certain personnel groups. He's a willing blocker who gives maximum effort at all times. He is able to sustain his blocks, often driving his defender backwards and finishing with strong vitriol and nastiness.

    From my interview with Gillmore - "I come to play with bad intentions. . . I've always taken every negative thing I hear and it fuels me to work and play. It's just who I am and how I operate. I always wonder why I'm "underrated" or why people put so much value on where somebody played. I mean I get it, but there are great players everywhere. Just because somebody played in the SEC or Big 12 doesn't mean they're the best.

    He has a strong base and moves his feet well to stay with rushers and keep them engaged. He'll need to develop his upper body and lower body strength at the next level, along with improving his hand placement and technique. But for only playing the position for three seasons, his rawness and upside remind me a little of Jordan Cameron. I am not comparing them as athletes, because by the metrics Cameron was a far superior athlete coming out of college. Rather I feel their path to relevancy and playing time could be very similar - develop for a year or so before really exploding onto the scene. Ironically enough, I feel Gillmore would be the perfect compliment to Cameron in Cleveland.

    As a pass catcher, Gillmore shows an excellent catch radius with very soft hands that should be dubbed "Banana Mitts". He effortlessly plucks the ball out of the air and can turn up field to gain tough yardage. He's not explosive after the catch, and won't make you miss with lateral agility, but he will move the chains along with whatever defenders are in his path. Gillmore figures to be a mismatch in red-zone and short yardage situations where he can use his body to shield defenders, freeing his arms to extend and make plays with his hands. Keep in mind he has the leaping ability, catch radius and length/height to high point and make plays over most any linebacker, safety or cornerback in red zone situations.

    Gillmore needs to work on his route running and perfecting his technique in this aspect of the game. This isn't uncommon for rookie wide receivers to have to work on, let alone a converted TE who used to play DE. This is something that should come with repetition and practice. I don't project him to ever be explosive in and out of his cuts, or be a sudden athlete in his route trees, but I do feel he can improve his overall crispness, sharpness, and release. I see promise in his ability to adjust off the snap and avoid chip blocks at the LOS. This, along with strength and technique refinement, will be needed in the NFL to help him release into space.


    Summary

    Gillmore is a versatile, athletic tight end prospect with great size, arms, hands and terrific leaping ability. Gillmore has a huge catch radius and should figure to be a prime red zone and short yardage target. Gillmore is not the fastest TE, but he can make big plays in the passing game. Because he can play both as an inline blocking TE or  split out as a HB/WR, I believe he can become a dependable staple in a well balanced passing offense. While he is raw, he has the athletic ability and build to achieve a high ceiling and I believe whichever team that is willing to draft and develop him will be very happy.

    Game Notes:

    • Shows ability to line up in multiple personnel groupings as a TE, FB, HB/WR and even at a LT.
    • As a receiver, lines up in the slot; in-line with his hand in the dirt; as a running back; and split out wide as the X or the Z
    • Shows ability to beat the block and chip at LOS, turn his head, make a hands catch and score TD in red zone
    • Shows ability to put LB/DE/CB on roller skates
    • Runs some crisp routes at all levels, others need work
    • Seam route at the 4:37 mark shows his ability to catch in traffic for a first down
    • Initial first step in run block was slow at times, allowing DE or OLB some leverage

    Game Notes

    • First play - goes in motion, shows ability to avoid chip at LOS, executes curl route, gets his head around, makes hands catch, and falls forward for first down while taking a hit
    • Around the 1:17 mark, sets up his blocker for a screen on a dig route underneath on 3rd and 5. Finds soft spot in defense, catches with hands in stride and gains 3 YAC for the first down.
    • At the 2:40 mark, shows a quick outside slant, beats initial tackle, endures strong collision and finishes upright
    • Around the 1:25 mark, beats ILB in the Red Zone, is open in the back of the end zone but the pass it thrown too high and off target.
    • Has some opportunities to improve blocking technique and quickness of hand placement and feet
    • 3:12 mark - lines up as the RB on 3rd and 10. Screen pass to the flat, nearly gains 10 yards after making a smooth hands catch that's actually thrown behind him.
    • Shows a few concentration errors on dropped passes, although some were not on target (behind or in front)
    • Route running seemed more crisp
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