Ladarius is a tall, lanky tight end who shows nice straight line speed. He has good hands to catch the ball and will go up in a crowd to fight for the ball in the air. Ladarius has solid overall athletic talent and can be used in the slot on third down situations. He has been used all over the field by his college team in an offense that makes the most use of a pass catching tight end. He does an adequate job at the college level when blocking in line. This offense requires a lot of him as a receiver when blocking in space and Ladarius gives solid effort in trying to complete his blocking assignments.
I don't see elite speed or quickness in Ladarius to make me think that you can shift him to the wide receiver position. I also do not see the passion in running routes consistently to be a pass catching tight end at the next level. He lacks the change of direction skills to block in space or he doesn't want to block at all. Your pick. He is slow off the line and, although he can be physical, I don't think he likes it when players are physical with him. I'm not sure Ladarius understands what's in store for him at the next level. I'm not sure he understands the work ethic that he will need to compete at the next level. There is a lot of talent around Ladarius on his college team and he has benefited from that talent and the type of offense the team runs.
When I watch Ladarius play, I see a kid who does not want to be a tight end, he wants to be a wide receiver. I think that he thinks he could be a Plaxico Burress style of wide receiver, but Ladarius doesn't have that type of speed or quickness and right now his route running is rudimentary at best. I saw him do a curl pattern 10 yards off the line and when he stopped to turn, he took five steps to complete the turn and settle. This is a Senior, who has run routes for 4 years at the college level! I'm sure he has been told over and over how to run that route and yet he still runs it wrong. Then I saw him in the red zone from the slot run a beautiful route and split a two deep zone. It was perfect; slow, but perfect. He ran the route and just before the top of the route, pushed it to the outside, got the safety to turn to the sideline and then broke to the middle and caught a perfect pass for a touchdown. The only problem with that route was that he ran it too slow for the next level. It was a hell of a route, though. I see teammates #4 & #87 both receivers, and a Quarterback with a bazooka for an arm and with good accuracy, opening up the field for Ladarius and not him opening up the field for them. He tries to block in space, but the truth is, his heart isn't in it and his lateral agility leaves a lot to be desired. Inside the hash marks he does a solid job blocking, but not even close to what he will have to do at the NFL level. Ladarius will have to go to the combine and run some excellent times to draw attention to himself as a project worth drafting and developing. For me personally, all I see here is a situational player on offense who does not look like he can do much for me on special teams. I know teams are looking for pass catching tight ends because of all the spread offense, but I don't think Ladarius is the answer. Can he come into a game in the red zone and score some TD's? Absolutely. But I think there are others in this draft who can do that and more.
The BS Detector
Drew Boylhart Feb /12