It's been a storyline for about as long as this blog has existed. Another highly regarded tight end leaves the Ohio State program without putting up an enormous statline, only to start to generate a buzz at the combine, en route to a draft selection in the NFL. Things should be no different with Nick Vannett, who is prepared to start his NFL career.
Vannett had 55 catches for 585 yards and six touchdowns over the course of his Ohio State career, including 19 catches for 162 yards last season. Vannett saw game time and caught passes all four years of his Ohio State career, and also established himself as a nasty blocker, helping to further two of the most productive Ohio State rushing attacks in recent memory. He'll be missed at Ohio State, but should position himself well to be productive on an NFL roster.
Arms: 34 1/4"
Vannett was asked about which player he most would like to emulate in the League, he said he studies the best, and right now that's Rob Gronkowsi. This seems appropriate given the "Baby Gronk" moniker he earned during the week of the Senior Bowl. Vannett was asked how Gronk-like he was, and was sure to note, "I'm not as crazy as him, though."
The tight end talked about how people forgot last year that he was a catching threat as well as a talented blocker, making that one of his goals in the Senior Bowl and combine. He wants to show teams he's able to perform whatever they need from the position.
"I didn't get [catching] opportunities at Ohio State this past season, and I think they might have forgotten that I can catch the ball so I just have to go out and prove that again. I got a few balls down the seam and with practice made just about every play that was thrown my way. It was huge, especially going against that competition, those are the best seniors in the country."
He didn't get much of a chance to experience the NFL Combine with the rest of the 14 Buckeyes, but did note how cool it was that the team was able to break the combine record for most players from one school.
Bench press: 17 reps
40-yard dash: N/A, Vannett elected to run a 40 at the Combine.
Vertical jump: 30.5"
Broad jump: 111.0"
3 cone drill: 7.05 sec
20-yard shuttle run: 4.20 sec
60-yard shuttle run: 11.50 sec
Vannett is one of the better tight ends at the combine, and with size, strength and blocking ability would be a great asset to a team looking for more than just a receiving end. He could easily go in the second round of the NFL draft, but might slip into the third round depending on how teams value the tight end position with their offense.