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Florida State's Nick O'Leary wins Mackey Award

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Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press
Florida State's Nick O'Leary is the winner of the 2014 John Mackey Award, given to the nation's top tight end.

Florida State senior Nick O'Leary on Wednesday won the John Mackey Award, given to the nation's top tight end.

The other finalists were Miami senior Clive Walford and Minnesota sophomore Maxx Williams.

O'Leary -- who is Jack Nicklaus' grandson -- is second on the Seminoles (13-0), who meet Oregon in the Jan. 1 Rose Bowl in a playoff semifinal, with 47 receptions, 614 receiving yards and six TD catches. Four of his TD catches have come in the past three games.

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While he is an excellent college tight end, O'Leary (6-foot-3, 235 pounds) isn't necessarily considered an excellent pro prospect. He lacks size, though he does have good hands and does a nice job of finding holes in zone defenses. Walford (6-4, 258) is considered a better pro prospect; he is bigger and faster than O'Leary, has become a more proficient blocker this season and occasionally can get deep.

Williams (6-4, 250) is a third-year sophomore who is draft-eligible. He is a good blocker with 54 career catches in an offense heavily geared toward the run. His dad, Brian, played 12 seasons as a center for the New York Giants.

This is a down year for tight ends when it comes to the draft, with NFL Media analyst Charles Davis writing that "the cupboard is closer to bare than we've seen in some time" at the position. The most draft-worthy tight end appears to be Michigan's Devin Funchess, who announced Tuesday he was entering the draft a year early. Funchess (6-5, 230) played wide receiver for the Wolverines this season, but his best NFL position appears to be tight end.

A tight end has been selected in the first round in 13 of the past 15 drafts, with Eric Ebron going 10th overall in the 2014 draft, to the Detroit Lions.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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