Vance has the size, foot speed, bulk and strength you look for in a prototypical NFL tight end. He shows on film good hands to catch the ball on typical tight end routes. Vance has the speed to be used as a slot receiver and does a good job blocking in space, which means he can be used as an H-back and can even carry the ball out of the backfield for you on occasion. He has the size and strength to catch the ball and make the needed yardage to move the chains. In general, Vance has excellent overall athletic talent to play more than one position for you in your offense. This makes him a potential impact player because he can do more than your average blocking tight end. Vance is an enticing player and a team with an offense that is multi-faceted and uses many different formations will want to select him early in this draft because Vance has the athleticism to stay on the field, play different positions and be a match-up problem for the team that drafts him.
In spite of Vance having the size-speed ratio of a prototypical NFL tight end, he is not a very good one right now. Itís not his fault; itís because his college team has not used him as a in-line blocking tight end. They used him as a slot receiver and therefore it makes sense that his in-line blocking tight end skills and route running are lacking at this point in his career. He has good speed, but is not explosive off the line of scrimmage so his college team used him mostly as an on-the-move receiver to free him up on his routes and allow his size to dominate smaller defenders. This will not happen in the NFL as easy as it has happened at the college level and Vance must learn to run better routes and be a lot quicker. To be successful, Vance will need to improve his ability to separate and prove he can catch the ball more than 20 yards off the line of scrimmage from a quarterback with an NFL arm. Right now Vance just plays and he makes an impact simply because he is bigger and faster than most defenders. At the next level, that will not be the case. His lack of quickness, route running, explosion in and out of his breaks and off the line will be magnified and Vance will struggle until his work ethic and football intelligence matches up to his athletic talent.
I don't think there is a player in this draft that I have done more film work on than Vance and I'm still unsure about this kidís potential for the next level. I see the talent, but I also see nagging issues that trouble me. I turn on the film again and I see the talent and the match-up difficulties for defenders, but still I get this nagging feeling about Vance that I struggle to identify. When I watch film, I'm always looking for that one thing that turns me on about that player. I'm looking for something in the way the player plays that makes me feel in my gut that the player is ready for the next level. Vance has been the whole offense for his college team and playing has come easy for him because of his athletic talent. However, what I see on film is a player who mostly works behind the line of scrimmage and not down the field very much. If he goes downfield to make a catch, itís a rarity in that offense. Now maybe that's because the quarterback is not that good, or maybe itís because the coaches are very conservative and are protecting the offensive lineman and not asking much of them. I don't know, but it gives me an uneasy feeling and makes me wonder whether or not Vance has a clue what is going to be asked of him at the next level. I saw that in the Senior Bowl tapes. He was frustrated and bored and seemed like all he wanted to do was catch a pass so that he could show everyone how talented he was. We know how talented he is, but I wanted to see if he would do something that he doesn't want to do to the best of his abilities. Unfortunately, what I saw in the Senior Bowl game was Vance walking through the motions as a tight end with his hand down on the end of the line of scrimmage. I'm not suggesting that Vance takes downs off; I'm suggesting that Vance is a player who is naive about how his talents translate to the next level. Right now, I don't think Vance would be a very impactful slot receiver or tight end. Some are suggesting that Vance has talent similar to Aaron Hernandez of the Patriots and can be used the same way (see Aaronís profile in the THR Archives). I don't think Vance has the quickness, explosion off the line, route running skills or proven hands to catch the ball down the field that Aaron had when he came out in the draft. I had no questions or doubts about Aaronís ability to impact at the next level and while I think Vance can be a good player for the team that drafts him, I'm not convinced he will be an impact player and I think he has a lot to learn. That's what I seeÖsome will disagree with me and that is what the draft is all about.
Drew ď The B.S. DetectorĒ Boylhart