This past weekend, the San Francisco 49ers used their tenth and final draft pick on South Carolina tight end Rory Anderson. The 49ers had already used a pick on Oklahoma tight end Blake Bell, and the addition of Anderson has them with eight tight ends. It remains to be seen what they will do with this massive group, but there is an interesting mix of talent.
Anderson is one guy who could prove particularly interesting. He is viewed as incredibly athletic, but he also has some issues with body-catching, and has to work on his in-line blocking, according to scouting reports. The biggest issue for him has been injuries. He tore his right triceps muscle last spring, and then suffered a strain and later tear of his right triceps muscle.
The injuries will be something to track, and I would not be surprised if the 49ers worked him onto the non-football injury list this season. We'll probably hear more when the 49ers open their rookie minicamp in two weeks.
In the meantime, it is important to think about the long game. A college football writer at NFL.com put together a short list of draft sliders teams will regret passing on. Anderson was included on that list, with the following detail:
Anderson's upside at the tight end spot is as high as anybody's in the 2015 class given his A-plus athleticism and ability to get vertical in the passing game. His blocking needs work, but he'll be able to learn the nuances of the game from a good mentor in Vernon Davis and offers a similar skill set. If a team gets creative, he could be a star in the red zone.
The 49ers have eight tight ends, so we know there will be some shuffling. If Anderson is not in fact ticketed for the NFI list, he will get the preseason to show what he can do. One has to wonder if he can do enough to earn a roster spot, and if he does look good but loses the numbers game, will he be able to clear waivers as a potential practice squad candidate?