With the likes of O.J. Howard, David Njoku and Evan Engram, among others, stealing the conversation when discussing tight ends in this draft class, Jeremy Sprinkle has flown under the radar a bit. The NFL has shifted towards those athletic, pass catching tight ends, leaving a guy like Sprinkle to fall down draft boards.
When you think of blocking tight ends in this class, Iowa’s George Kittle immediately comes to mind. While he is more flashy, Sprinkle very well could be the better overall blocker with more refined, reliable technique. Plus, he’s a better pass catching option as well. If you run a physical, run-oriented scheme and need that #2 TE, Sprinkle is your guy.
Despite producing talented tight ends in recent years such as last year’s 2nd round pick Hunter Henry, and D.J. Williams, Sprinkle left Fayetteville as the program’s all-time TE TD leader with 11. He didn’t get to finish his career the way he had hoped, however, as he was caught shoplifting which led him to sit out the Belk Bowl as his senior year came to a close. Will this incident impact where he’s drafted?
Name: Jeremy Sprinkle
Size: 6’5” / 252 lbs / 34 1/2” Arm Length / 10 3/4” Hands
Class: Senior (RS)
Comparison: C.J. Fiedorowicz (Houston Texans)
Draft Grade: Late 3rd Round
Combine Results: 40 Time: 4.69 / Vertical Jump: 29” / Broad Jump: 116”
Positives: Gives off that “old school” player vibe. Reliable player. Advanced blocking tight end. Combines strength and technique. Wins in a variety of ways to stay in front of his man. Strong upper body with huge mitts. Able to twist and steer away edge rushers. Moves well laterally. Gets perpendicular to line quickly to cut off easy rush lane. Sets the edge extremely well to open windows with his strong base. Has the stance of a tackle. Absorbs contact well with fierce impact and leverage. Positions body well in blocks. Keeps his shoulders square. Reliable hands catcher. Physical after the catch. Lowers his shoulder with power. Often utilized as a fullback in 2015. Slips out of the backfield and provided a sneaky last resort underneath. Imposing size. Huge wingspan allows him to catch away from his body. Stays on the field more than any other tight end I’ve studied in this class.
Negatives: Uneasy body shift into acceleration. Takes a lot of momentum to shift into stride. Slow feet on the move. Won’t kill you with athleticism. Struggles to mirror a quick adjustment from defender in pursuit – particularly in the 2nd level. Makes it easy for the defenders to punch the ball loose. Caught shoplifting at the Belk Bowl back in late December despite being given a $450 gift card.
Outlook: Jeremy Sprinkle is a block-first tight end, but not in the traditional manner. He offers a valuable asset in the receiving game – a reliable option whether he’s running underneath or along the sideline. You’ll rarely see him drop a ball as he effectively uses his big hands to reel in passes. His overall blocking technique is well polished and will allow him to come in from day one and compete as a team’s #2 TE. With all the primary receiving tight ends stealing the headlines this draft season, Sprinkle offers a nice change of flavor. I don’t expect his shoplifting incident to impact his draft stock too much as he has no other run-ins with the law, but a handful of teams may take him off their board. I would spend a late day two pick on him – you know what you’re going to get from him on the field. A tough, old-school football player. He’ll likely go off the board between the 3rd-4th rounds.