Photo of Dustin Keller
Grade
?
  • 4.55 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 26 REPS
    Top Performer
  • 38.0 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 131.0 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 6.88 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 4.14 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 11.74 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 6'3" Height
  • 242LBS. Weight

Overview

A semifinalist for the John Mackey Award, given to the nation's top tight end, Keller has come a long way since arriving on Purdue's campus as a 185-pound wide receiver in 2003.

Keller goes down as one of the school's top tight ends and earned team Most Valuable Player honors as a senior, the first tight end to receive that honor since Dave Young in 1979.

It was sort of a natural process that brought Keller to Purdue, as most of his relatives had attended the university. His mother, Maureen, and grandmother, Linda Orr, are Purdue graduates. His grandfather, Dale Mulvey, played on the 1952 Purdue football team that won the Big Ten Conference championship. Brothers, Dwight and Drew, also attended Purdue. His great-grandfather, Robert P. Siskind, was an electrical engineering professor at the university. Purdue offered Keller its final scholarship in 2003 to keep him from signing with Toledo instead.

At Jefferson High School, Keller was named one of the top 50 receivers in the nation by Street & Smith's and added first team All-State as a senior. He was runner-up for the state's Top Receiver Award and a finalist for Indiana "Mr. Football" honors. He was also named Area Co-Offensive Player of the Year by the Lafayette Journal & Courier.

As a senior, Keller set state records with 113 receptions for 1,804 yards (16.0-yard average) and 22 touchdowns. He participated in basketball and track and field. He captured the state high-jump championship as senior, clearing 6'9" in a steady rain, after finishing second his junior year with a personal best of 6'10".

The lanky receiver spent the 2003 season with the scout team at Purdue. His body continued to develop in the weight room and he showed up at 2004 spring camp at a chiseled 235 pounds. While his new frame earned him a letter, he appeared mostly on special teams in nine contests, earning his first career start in the Ohio State game. He finished 2004 with only five catches for 102 yards (20.4-yard average), but two of those grabs were touchdowns.

Keller continued his role as a reserve tight end and special teamer in 2005. A right knee sprain kept him out of the Minnesota game, as he saw action in 10 games. He grabbed 13 passes for 128 yards (9.8-yard average), finding the end zone three times.

Keller cracked the starting lineup for 12 of 14 games in 2006. He earned All-Big Ten Conference honorable mention, finishing third on the team with 56 receptions for 771 yards (13.4-yard average) and four touchdowns. He had one solo tackles and gained 39 yards on three kickoff returns (13.0 avg). An right shoulder (AC joint tear) injury suffered in October would hamper him the second half of the season, but he toughed it out, playing in every game. After his junior campaign, he underwent surgery to repair the shoulder damage.

At 248 pounds, Keller was ready to establish himself among the nation's top tight ends in 2007. He was an All-American honorable mention by Pro Football Weekly, team MVP and All-Big Ten Conference second-team choice. He hauled in a career-high 68 passes for 881 yards (13.0-yard average) and seven touchdowns, also scoring on a fumbled rushing attempt while making three solo tackles and returning a kickoff 15 yards. He ranked fourth nationally among tight ends with an average of 5.23 receptions per game and fifth with 67.77 receiving yards per game. His 68 receptions are the second-most in school history among tight ends, while his 731 yards rank third.

In 46 games at Purdue, Keller started 26 contests. He hauled in 142 passes for 1,882 yards (13.3-yard average) and 16 touchdowns. He recovered a rushing attempt in the end zone for a score, posted four solo tackles and gained 54 yards on four kickoff returns, finishing with 102 points scored and an average of 42.09 all-purpose yards per game.

Analysis

Strengths

Positives: Has a cut, defined frame with good muscle tone, tight waist and hips, good arm reach, very large hands, adequate bubble and defined calves and thighs...Runs good straight-line routes and can sink his pads to settle underneath, but is best when used on the move...Has good field vision and comes back for the ball when the quarterback is in trouble...Has the large hands to reach for and pluck the ball, but lacks good consistency in this area...Looks more like San Diego's Vincent Jackson (oversized wide receiver trapped in a marginally-sized tight end's body), but shows good suddenness of the snap when he is able to escape the press cleanly...Gets in and out of his breaks with just a little hesitation, but will sometimes take false steps...Plays with the proper flat-back pad level and runs light on his feet, building his acceleration nicely...Hard worker in practices and in the training room, displaying impressive strength (has good power, but needs to show more desire to use it in his blocking technique)...Has very good athletic ability and shows good explosion in his initial step off the snap...Uses his quickness more than power to aid in his in-line release and, even though blocking is the weakest area of his game, he has the foot speed and balance to wall off defenders when the effort is there...Can separate and stretch the field down the middle and shows the vision to locate the void and settle underneath...Has the timed speed to quickly run the seam, showing good timing in avoiding second-level defenders...Does gather at the top of his route, but also flashes the suddenness to separate in the short area...Good on the short, five-yard bend-out, but must extend his hands better on shallow crossing patterns...Can vertically stretch the field, but that is sometimes negated due to his marginal ability to track the deep throws...Does a good job bending and adjusting for low throws (not as good going for the ball above his head)...After the catch he has the ability to make the first guy miss and has decent run-after-the-catch acceleration...Shows awareness and instincts in the passing game, but is best served when he aligns at multiple spots...Flashes good explosiveness running with the ball after the catch, but needs to use his power to run over defenders and break arm tackles...Has the second gear to gobble up the cushion and get behind a lethargic defender...Knows how to use his frame effectively to shield defenders from the ball (fumbling is not an issue). Negatives: Has marginal size for the classic tight end position and is best used in a move-oriented (H-Back) formation to get the best out of his ability...Must totally revamp his blocking technique, as he spends too much time catching defenders with his hands and will generally get those hands outside his frame, allowing the opponent to make a quick move over his outside shoulder...Must do a better job of anchoring and running his feet when asked to block in-line, but he also does not possess the raw power to hold his ground firmly at the point of attack...It is not as if he lacks courage, but he does tend to shy away from contact going for the ball in a crowd...Does have concentration lapses catching the ball, as he gets off-kilter when he hears footsteps closing on the play...Has adequate hands, but would be much better if he would extend for the ball outside his frame better (lets the ball absorb into his body too much, resulting in quite a few drops when he double-catches)...Has good leaping ability, but needs to develop timing to win more jump balls (prefers to catch the ball in stride rather than reach and pluck it)...Better in the short area, as he has trouble tracking the ball in flight on deep routes (does not swivel his head well to look the ball in over his shoulder)...Also a poor cut blocker, as he fails to execute good angles to get out and neutralize second-level defenders...Can retain plays, but despite good academics and knowledge to play multiple positions, he needs more than a few reps to retain...Must improve his footwork, as he will take false steps in transition and sometimes breaks off his route too early...His weight-room strength fails to translate to the football field, as he generates just a passing hand jolt and will get held up by a strong press, as he does not get good hand placement in attempts to separate at the line of scrimmage...Has good timed speed, but runs a bit erect, lacking crisp cutting ability to come out of his breaks cleanly...Has had minor injury issues, but will play through pain (played with a shoulder tear for the second half of 2006, but still caught 37 passes in his final eight games after sustaining the injury)...Despite his quickness, he is not considered a deep threat that can challenge the secondary often (adequate cutting ability is the main culprit). Compares To: ERIC JOHNSON-New Orleans...As a move-oriented H-back, Keller will bring decent value in the middle rounds of the draft. Like Johnson, he is really more of a big possession receiver. He doesn't love to block and doesn't show great desire to combat for the ball in a crowd. He uses his body well to settle in the soft areas on the field and does a good job working back to the quarterback on broken plays. When he gets a clean release off the snap, he shows the light feet to get into his routes. Still, he needs to show better cutting agility out of his breaks. If your team has a physical blocker at this position and you're looking for a complimentary intermediate-range receiver, Keller could fill that role. If you are looking for a complete, physical blocker at the position, you might be looking elsewhere.
C
Grade Title
9.00-10 Once-in-lifetime player
8.00-8.99 Perennial All-Pro
7.50-7.99 Future All-Pro
7.00-7.49 Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.50-6.99 Chance to become Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.00-6.49 Should become instant starter
5.50-5.99 Chance to become NFL starter
5.20-5.49 NFL backup or special teams potential
5.01-5.19 Better-than-average chance to make NFL roster
5.00 50-50 Chance to make NFL roster
4.75-4.99 Should be in an NFL training camp
4.50-4.74 Chance to be in an NFL training camp
No Grade Likely needs time in developmental league.
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