Thursday, February 18, 2010

Will Cleveland, Cincinnati Gamble On Iowa TE Tony Moeaki?

Iowa tight end Tony Moeaki reminds a lot of Hawkeye fans of Samuel L. Jackson's character in the movie Unbreakable .

In Unbreakable , Jackson plays Mr. Glass, a guy with a rare disease that causes his bones to be as brittle as eggshells. At one point, Mr. Glass takes a tumble down a flight of stairs and breaks about 12 of his bones.

That was Moeaki in 2007, when he dislocated his elbow and broke his hand on the same play in a game against Wisconsin, an injury that eventually forced him to take a medical red-shirt that year.

During the 2008 season, he dealt with foot, hamstring, and calf issues, and only saw limited action in nine games. In the second game of the 2009 season, he suffered an ankle injury that forced him to miss three more games.
Can you see how fitting the nickname is?

Yet, despite his seeming calcium deficiency , Moeaki overcame the adversity of the injury bug to become one of Ricky Stanzi's favorite targets in the clutch.

In a Big Ten game against Michigan, he caught two touchdown passes of over 30 yards to help secure the victory.

In the fourth quarter of the Ohio State game, Moeaki made a key catch off a tipped pass to give Iowa a first down, helping them force the game into overtime.

The injuries aside, this kid can play some football.

Moeaki is a complete tight end. At 6'4'', 250 lbs, he has the size it takes to make it in the NFL. And that size doesn't slow the kid down at all, either.

To go along with the great size and speed, he also has great hands, as demonstrated against Wisconsin when he made a ninja-like touchdown catch in the back of the end zone to tie the game.

Perhaps his greatest, and most overlooked skill, is his ability to run block. Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz hasn't overlooked it, and thinks the senior from the Island of Tonga is one of the most talented tight ends he has ever coached.

When someone like Ferentz says that about a player, NFL teams take notice.
With four months left before the 2010 draft, it is still anyone's guess as to which NFL teams will target Moeaki. The injuries might have diminished his stock a little, but there is plenty of time for him to prove himself.

So, which NFL teams need help the most from a player like Moeaki?

More Google searches for mock drafts won't help much.  Moeaki is anywhere from the fourth- to 13th-best tight end in the draft. Some mock draft sites have him as high as the late second round, others have him late in the sixth.

The Cleveland Browns might be a logical prediction at this point. With the No. 93 and the No. 104 pick in the draft, Cleveland has a few picks to use on a new tight end for Brady Quinn (or a new quarterback) to target.

Moeaki would help the Browns' passing game, as well as their running game because of his superior blocking ability.

The Cincinnati Bengals also have a need for a tight end, specifically a blocking tight end who can catch well. That's Tony to a T.

Eleven-year pro Reggie Kelly is in his seventh season with the Bengals, but was lost for the season to a ruptured Achilles tendon suffered in practice. The reward in getting an all-around tight end to help fill in for Kelly could outweigh the risk.

There are several other teams rumored to be interested, too. The Kansas City Chiefs and Arizona Cardinals also seem to have a need for a tight end and seem like logical options, but they might end up selecting a tight end sooner in the draft.

The only thing that is for sure is there are almost four months until the draft, and anything can happen.

The 2010 NFL Draft will kick off on Thursday, April 22.
That's when Moeaki will find out which team is willing to take a chance on him.

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