One of the best parts of the NFL Scouting Combine, and the NFL Draft in general, are the young men who’s hard work and dedication pay off and let them live out their dreams. Every year we hear about players who worked their way up from nothing or overcame extreme adversity to make it to the NFL.
This year one of the best stories belongs to LSU tight end Stephen Sullivan who has opened up about homelessness and working to stay on “the right path”. Sullivan’s dedication to doing what is right has paid off and the NFL is paying attention.
He is also an intriguing prospect for the New York Giants who could be in need of a tight end and are certainly in need of more pass catching threats.
(Note: There is not as much tape on Sullivan available as I would like. I will update this report if or when more becomes available.)
Prospect: Stephen Sullivan (TE, LSU)
Games Watched: vs. Northwestern State (2019), vs. Oklahoma (2019)
Red Flags: none
Games Played (starts): 48 (11)
Yards (ypc): 712 (15.5 per catch)
Games Played (starts): 14 (2)
Yards (ypc): 130 (10.5 per catch)
Best: Frame, body control, hands, athleticism
Worst: Blocking, experience
Projection: A developmental tight end in an offense that uses tight ends in the passing game.
LSU tight end Stephen Sullivan possesses a very good blend of size and athleticism for the position. Sullivan is a former wide receiver and runs his routes like a wideout. He wastes little motion getting off of the line of scrimmage and shows good detail in his breaks. Sullivan has impressive, and deceptive, long speed for a tight end and has the ability to stretch the field vertically. Sullivan is a long tight end with very long arms and big hands, as well as impressive body control. He does a good job of adjusting to passes in the air and extending to catch the ball way from his frame. Sullivan uses his tools well to create a massive catch radius. He lines up at multiple positions in LSU’s offense, from in-line tight end to wide receiver, giving the offense the ability to create and exploit multiple match-ups with his athletic tools.
Sullivan shows good competitive toughness to play through contact as a receiver and is a very willing blocker. He also shows a nasty streak in attempting to finish his blocks with the defender on the ground.
Sullivan is new to the tight end position and will need development in that area at the NFL level. He isn’t yet perfectly comfortable playing out of a three-point stance, and needs work on his technique as a blocker. Sullivan is inconsistent in his hip and pad level, as well as with his hand placement. He is capable of generating movement along the line of scrimmage and sustaining blocks, but only flashes the ability.
Overall Grade: 6.0D - A traits-based prospect who will need a long-term developmental plan. Has significant upside but will need an investment from the team. A Day 3 prospect. [Grading Scale]
Right now Stephen Sullivan is a developmental prospect as a tight end. He should be able to help a team right away as a receiving weapon thanks to his physical and athletic tools, as well as his background as a wide receiver. Sullivan has the frame and play strength to be a potential “complete” tight end at the NFL level, but will need coaching to realize that potential.
He only has limited experience at the tight end position and needs coaching on the blocking portion of a tight end’s duties. If he is able to learn how to his hands and play with good pad level, he has the play strength to be a capable blocker, but he is inconsistent at best in that area now.
Sullivan is comfortable lining up as a receiver and running routes from those alignments. His size, length, athleticism, and catch radius make him a mismatch against defensive backs and linebackers. A creative offensive coordinator could use Sullivan to force the defense’s hand by moving him around the offensive formation even while he is being developed as a blocking tight end.