Aaron Hernandez of the New England Patriots is the prototype. A tight end with wide receiver skills and speed. A player who can be moved around -- playing in the slot, in the backfield, sometimes in the traditional tight end alignment and moved all around in an effort to create matchup problems for defenses.
With the success the New England Patriots have had using Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski as double-tight end centerpieces of their passing attack most every NFL team is looking for a Hernandez clone to call their very own. This trend could be good news for the NFL hopes of Temple's Evan Rodriguez, a 6-foot-1, 239-pound tight end from North Bergen, N.J. who caught 35 passes for the Owls during the 2011 season.
Rodriguez said during a recent interview that in 2011 Temple used him in similar fashion to the way the Patriots use Hernandez.
"I can do a little of everything, I'm versatile," Rodriguez said. "You can use me as an in-line tight end, you can use me as a wing, you can use me as a slot, as a wide receiver, a little fullback, H-back. I'm a movement guy.
"I put defenses in uncomfortable situations because you don't know if there's going to be a run play or a pass play."
Interestingly, while Rodriguez carried the ball just one time in his collegiate career and considers himself a receiver, both ESPN and CBS list him as a fullback in their prospect rankings. Both sites indicate they would expect Rodriguez to be a third-day selection in the 2012 NFL Draft this April.
"I did everything I could do to get to this point. Everything's in God's hands," said Rodriguez, who will graduate from Temple with a Criminal Justice degree.
After watching Rodriguez during practice for the East-West Shrine Game in January, Dane Brugler of CBS Sports wrote:
"Teams looking for a poor man's Aaron Hernandez should take a long, hard look at Temple's Evan Rodriguez. He showed his versatility in practice, lining up outside the tackle on the line of scrimmage and also in the backfield. Rodriguez isn't very impressive physically, measuring a hair over 6-1 1/2 and 242 pounds, but he put his reliable hands on display with very good vision and focus to reel in tough catches. He is a smaller target and struggled in blocking drills, but Rodriguez is an intriguing pass-catcher."
Rodriguez grew up within sight of Giants Stadium, admitted that he has always been a Giants fan, and is well aware of the team's current need at tight end with Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum having suffered torn ACLs in the Super Bowl. Rodriguez, of course, will take his NFL opportunity no matter what team it comes with.
"It's been a dream. I'm so close, but still so far. I'm just enjoying it, it's overwhelming," Rodriguez said.
Temple will hold its Pro Day March 16, giving Rodriguez one final opportunity to impress NFL scouts. He said his primary goal at the Pro Day will be to increase his bench press numbers from the 18 reps he did at the NFL Scouting Combine. He will also run routes for NFL observers at the Pro Day.
"The more they see me running routes and blocking that will help me out," Rodriguez said.
Evan Rodriguez Profile
Height: 6-foot-1 inches
Weight: 239 lbs.
40-yard dash: 4.58
20-yard short shuttle: 4.28
3-cone drill: 6.94
Vertical jump: 36
Broad jump: 9'11
Bench press: (225) - 18