If anyone has forgotten why Miami is called The U, they need only to be reminded of the countless number of talented NFLers who have spent their time on the Greentrees Practice Field, working in the sweltering sun to hone their talents in the sport of football, educating themselves along the way in the game of life. Miami has been called everything from RBU, DBU to WRU. With the impending selection of TE Chris Herndon IV, Miami continues to have a claim at being named TEU.
Herndon, is one of the few out-of-state commits that Miami picked up from Norcross, Georgia, where he helped lead Norcross High School to a Class 6A State Championship in his senior year.
Throughout the draft process, the one word that has come to define Herndon as a prospect is underrated. Herndon was not heavily featured in Miami’s offense through most of his collegiate career. First overshadowed by the depth at the position, playing behind upperclassmen Clive Walford and Standish Dobard, Herndon applied himself to improving his game as a freshman in 2014 to force his way onto the field. Then, after carving out a role as an H-Back, Herndon played second fiddle to TE David Njoku who emerged as the more athletic and dynamic option at the tight end position. Finally, in 2017, with Njoku in the NFL, it appeared that Herndon would be featured on offense on a more consistent basis. That estimate was plausible at the start of the season, yet the number of targets that Herndon attracted on a game-by-game basis was sporadic at best.
One week, Herndon would have eight receptions for 65 receiving yards against Toledo; the next, he would have one reception for four yards. It appeared at various times of the season that the TE was the ‘break glass in case of emergency’ receiving option, instead of the more relied upon passing option of last season. Plenty of the inconsistency is due in part to the play at quarterback, which was hit-or-miss, based on numerous factors.
When you go over Herndon’s film, both Hurricane fans and scouts can agree that Herndon should have been featured more on offense, if anything. Herndon is more than a willing and capable blocker in every formation and play. Herndon in a capable receiver, quickly securing the ball and turning his head upfield upon a reception.
Measurables and Path to the Draft
Height: 6’3” 6/8
Weight: 253 pounds
Arm Length: 32 7/8 inches
Hand Size:19¼ inches
High School: Norcross High School
Best Game Film: Syracuse (2017)
Regardless of the situation, whether coming off the line of scrimmage to provide a combo block with the tackle on an edge defender, walling off the free defender or hitting the second level to get a good push in the run game, Herndon is willing and able to take on all comers head on.
To make it in the NFL, unless you’re a quarterback, one need to be as versatile as possible in many instances. Having lined up on the line of scrimmage, flexed out off the line or set up in the backfield as an H-Back, Herndon has experience working in different spots all over the field.
Christopher Herndon was a weapon from the slot last season pic.twitter.com/N9luw1FUcq— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) March 17, 2018
Making it Big
Catching a three-yard pass and turning it into a 20-yard gain is a normal feat for Herndon when he is given a chance on the play. Once Herndon picks up momentum down the field, he becomes a heavy load to take down for defensive backs or a single linebacker.
While the value of the tight end to an NFL team is on the rise, few want to deal with an inflated ego on the roster. Have no fear, because there is nothing demonstrative in Herndon’s game. While passes that have sailed above or behind him would send a less composed player into a sideline tizzy, Herndon has shown great patience and poise throughout his career—and we can easily see that quality coming along with him in the NFL.
See Target, Hit Target
While Herndon usually takes blockers head-on, it’s not too often that he’s able to evade tacklers, either dragging them with him for more yardage or being pushed out of bounds. While taking defenders square is in his wheelhouse as a collegiate TE, it remains to be seen if that quality will be transferable to the NFL.
It’s not often that Herndon will break off a big gain without some form of contact from a defender.
Long, imposing tight end with enormous wingspan. Takes a lot of time to build speed down the field. Big frame helps him when facing contact after he catches the football. Willing run-blocker despite body-type suggesting he’s split-out tight end.
CBS Sports Staff
Herndon’s athletic ability will flash on tape, but his college production was pedestrian and he’s still very raw. He has TE2 potential if he can improve his upper body strength and hand placement as a blocker. While Miami used him as a “run after the catch” option, NFL teams may lock in on his ability to threaten defenses on the second and third levels. Herndon has exciting athletic ability, but there is still plenty of room for improvement before he becomes a factor in the NFL.
Lance Zierlein NFL.com Analyst
Herndon is a natural athlete who showed versatility at Miami, but teams must be comfortable with him in the wake of his MCL injury. Playing behind David Njoku left Herndon limited in terms of reps and production, which means he may take longer to develop in the NFL. He has the look of a future starter.
Matt Miller Bleacher Report
“Can really stretch the seam.”
Bucky Brooks and Daniel Jeremiah project Chris Herndon as a second-third round selection among tight end prospects.
Final TE today is Miami's Christopher Herndon IV (6'4, 252). Used as a true "Y" for the Canes, but can also play slot & wing. Great in run game blocking w leverage/extension, solid in pass pro, plus athleticism/speed, shown solid hands & routes. Truly slept on in 18' TE class. pic.twitter.com/Ej2iqYHwko— Jake Burns (@jake_burns18) November 17, 2017
Herndon is not David Njoku or Jimmy Graham when it comes to being an athletic receiving tight end. Yet, the three-year starter at TE is a well-rounded talent at the position that will do whatever is asked or needed for his team to gain victory. Wherever Herndon is drafted, he’ll be a steal and should quickly turn into a capable starting tight end for an NFL franchise.
Draft Projection: Late second- third round
IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE U!