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49ers tight ends coach discusses what he looks for at Combine

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Jon Embree offered up his thoughts on scouting tight ends.

The San Francisco 49ers coaching staff is on hand for the 2017 NFL Combine, and tight ends coach Jon Embree got a little TV time. NFL Network analyst Maurice Jones-Drew sat down with Embree during some positional drills to discuss tight ends.

This is viewed as a particularly deep class, led by Alabama’s O.J. Howard. David Njoku (Miami, FL) got praise during his workout. Some other names that will pop up early are Evan Engram and Gerald Everett, and we’ll also hear about Jake Butt and Michael Roberts, among others.

Embree talked about what the skills he looks for in a tight end, and what he wants to see out of them during their Combine workout. He added some comments about the interview process as well. Here is what he had to say.

On the quality of the class:

This is a real good class. This is one of the better classes I think we’ve seen around here in a long time.

On versatility and what TE coaches want:

I think all of us would prefer someone that can play wide, but still do the things that an F or H can do in your offense. But due to the nature of all the spread offenses in college football and whatnot, you’re gonna have to keep trying to find a way to piece it together from more than one guy.

On what he looks for in TE Combine drills:

Do they finish the drill? Like I just noticed a lot of guys didn’t run and finish past the goal line after they caught the ball, pulled up a couple yards short. So, did they finish the drill, do they compete, what their body control looks like. All those different things. Can they adjust to different passes thrown outside their frame. Those are some of the different things I’m looking at.

On the kinds of personalities he has seen among tight ends:

I can’t say that I’ve experience that this year with this group. I think this group is more of a blue collar, more humble group. And I think the results are showing too that when they’re coming out and running. You ask them, “hey, what are you gonna do in the 40, what are you gonna do in your vertical?” Whatever they said they were gonna do, for the most part they’ve come out and done that.

On which TE projects out to a Tony Gonzalez (Embree coached him), or what drill allows for projection:

The answer is none of them. And it’s not necessarily a drill thing that made Tony great. One of the things that made Tony great was he played well outside of his frame. Every time he caught the ball, his hands, his arms, they were away from his body. The other thing was his work ethic. And so that’s where the interviews come in, trying to get a feel for kids’ work ethic. Because that will sustain them longer than — because everyone’s gonna have talent — so what’s gonna separate you? And his work ethic was second to none, and just his ability to catch the ball away from his body.