Chiefs

Former Mizzou tight end Sean Culkin eager to prove he can do more in the NFL

along@kcstar.com

Missouri tight end Sean Culkin knows he didn’t have the number of catches – 24 – or yards – 282 – as other tight ends in the 2017 NFL Draft.

But if you turn on the tape, he believes teams will see a guy who can do a little bit of everything.

“I had a couple third down catches that were big,” Culkin said. “And on iso (runs), I’m smacking that linebacker hard. I feel like I’m a guy that can do it all ... there’s times you see me matched up 1-on-1 with the (defensive) end in pass pro.”

When Culkin arrived at Missouri in 2012 as a three-star prospect out of Indian Rocks Christian School in Largo, Fla., he was billed as a receiving threat. And he was solid enough from 2014 to 2015, catching a total of 36 passes for 313 yards.

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But prior to last season, Culkin – who checked in at 6 feet 5, 255 pounds and ran a 4.70 at Missouri’s recent pro day – was rarely the first option on a pass play. That changed a tad more in 2016, leading to his career-high total in catches and yards.

“This past year being one of the older guys, I definitely had more options to be a threat,” Culkin said. “I had some opportunities for sure to help out, whether it being playaction or split out, being the main threat. I was definitely used a bit more than I had been.”

But Culkin believes he can do more, and has spent the last few months preparing for the draft in an effort to do so. His other testing numbers – 10-foot broad jump, 35  1/2-inch vertical, 21 bench press – are good numbers for tight ends.

Culkin hopes his versatility, and all the different spots he lined up under new offensive coordinator Josh Heupel, also works in his favor.

“This past year with Josh, I was like, everywhere – move (tight end), wing, fullback, slot,” Culkin said.

The Chiefs took a closer look at Culkin on April 7, when he attended their local pro day. Culkin said he also visited the Chargers and would attend the Buccaneers’ pro day, which was held on Friday.

Now, he’s just working and waiting for his shot in the NFL. Everyone hopes to be drafted, but even if he gets his shot as an undrafted free agent, he doesn’t expect to miss.

“I know what I can do,” Culkin said. “I love football. It’s everything in my life. I’m consumed. I love the competition, and the chance to compete on a daily basis and show people my strengths. I love getting the ball in my hands and making plays. It’s a fun passion.”

Two tight ends in this year’s draft have a first-round grade. Check out Terez Paylor's detailed scouting report on those two, plus the rest of the top five and five more to watch at the position.

2017 NFL Draft

At Philadelphia

Round 1: 7 p.m. Thursday, April 27

Rounds 2-3: 6 p.m. Friday, April 28

Rounds 4-7: 11 a.m. Saturday, April 29

2017 NFL DRAFT PREVIEW: TIGHT ENDS

What the analysts say: “At tight end you have a lot of playmakers,” NFL Network draft analyst Bucky Brooks said. “You have a handful of traditional ‘Y’ tight ends, but these mismatch guys, guys that would normally play the ‘H’ or the ‘F’ position, guys that are kind of like those jumbo wide receivers, will have the opportunity to play in the league and create mismatches, much like (Washington’s) Jordan Reed has been able to do.”

Chiefs’ need at this position: Medium to low. The Chiefs already have one of the game’s premier tight ends in two-time Pro Bowler Travis Kelce, so there’s no need for a starter here, even though Kelce could miss organized team activities as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery. No. 2 tight end Demetrius Harris needs to cut down on the dropped balls and continue to refine his blocking, but he had a few nice moments last season, is only 25 years old and should continue to get better, provided his offseason arrest for allegedly possessing marijuana during a traffic stop doesn’t hurt his internal standing with the club. A pair of youngsters, James O’Shaughnessy and Ross Travis, are big and athletic but have yet to put it all together. The Chiefs also took a low-risk flier on former Dallas second-rounder Gavin Escobar, who hasn’t done much in four seasons but has some receiving ability and has been stuck behind star Jason Witten. In all, there’s room for the Chiefs to upgrade at the No. 2 and No. 3 spots, especially if they can find a prospect in the draft who offers more in terms of blocking to go along with reliable hands.

QB: With no consensus on draft’s top QB, Chiefs could have plenty to choose from | rankings

RB: Chiefs could draft big-play threat from loaded crop of running backs | rankings

FB: Chiefs try Lindenwood’s Connor Harris at fullback during local pro day | rankings

WR: Story | rankings, to come

TE: Mizzou’s Sean Culkin eager to prove he can do more in the pros | rankings

OL: Story | rankings, to come

DL: Story | rankings, to come

EDGE: Story | rankings, to come

ILB: Story | rankings, to come

CB: Story | rankings, to come

S: Story | rankings, to come

The Terez A. Paylor All-Juice Team: 2017 (to come) | 2016 | 2015

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