NFL Draft

2018 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Penn State TE Mike Gesicki

From now until the 2018 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

#88 Mike Gesicki/TE/Penn State 6’5″ 247 Lbs

The Good

-Huge catch radius with strong, consistent hands
-Long strider that is very athletic on the move
-Loose hips with explosion in and out of cuts
-Gest on top of defenders in a hurry with good build-up speed
-Uses his size and length to his benefit as a leaper
– Showcased nuanced route running in final year at PSU

 The Bad

-Soft blocker who appears unwilling to engage defender in run game
-Doesn’t consistently show explosive athleticism on tape, compared to testing numbers
-Long, lanky frame that looks more like WR than TE
-Below average play strength for the position, which hinders him against physical coverage


-New Jersey High School Player of the Year, and school’s all-time leading scorer in basketball (1,867 points)
-State slam dunk contest winner; four-time letter-winner in volleyball in high school
-Finished his career with at least one reception in 27 straight games
-Ranked No. 9 in Penn State history with a Penn State tight end-record 129 catches
-Capped his career at No. 17 on Penn State’s career receiving yards chart with a Penn State tight end-record 1,481 yards
-Hauled in a Penn State tight end-record 15 career receiving touchdowns to rank tied for No. 9 in school history at the conclusion of his senior season

Tape Breakdown

Well, Mike Gesicki sure is a flashy pass catcher and a nuanced route runner. Unfortunately for Gesicki, that sounds more like a receiver than a tight end in the NFL.

After blowing up the NFL Combine in early March, Gesicki became a huge name in the NFL draft community, but it’s important to know that he’s way more of a wide receiver than he is an in-line tight end.

Gesicki is a big-play threat who put up monster numbers for the Nittany Lions the last two seasons, but he’s the prototypical move tight end for today’s game. He’s a nuanced route runner and has some impressive skills in the air.

Just don’t ask him to be much of a blocker.

After watching 15 games of Gesicki’s career at Penn State, I’ve come away with the notion that Gesicki really dislikes contact as a blocker, and really doesn’t have the want-to to even be passable in that area.

Look at the two clips above.

Against Pitt in 2016, he comes across the formation as the kick-out block. Watch his lower half. It stops completely before contact, almost as if he’s afraid of the impending contact.

Check out the second clip now. He gets absolutely steamrolled by the Indiana defender. Again, no base, no play strength and no willingness to even hold up as a blocker. It’s cringe worthy.

Fortunately for Gesicki, he makes up for it with his pass-catching skills.

With his huge frame, Gesicki has a massive catch radius, which helped out Trace McSorley a ton the last two seasons in Happy Valley. Just put it in his vicinity, and chances are he’ll come down with the ball.

Check out the catch above for a thrilling Rose Bowl matchup with USC two seasons ago.

First off, I like the way he glides into his route, sort of rocking the defensive back to sleep. Yes, he gets away with a bit of a push off on the play, but he gets his head around quickly to locate the football and go full extension for the score.

Not many tight ends are doing that in this class.

Prior to last season, Gesicki certainly wasn’t much of a route runner, as he excelled on his athleticism alone to make plays on the ball. In his final season at Penn State, Gesicki started to become more nuanced as a route runner, which allowed him to create separation in his routes.

He focused on the small details in his routes, and his numbers took off for the Nittany Lions.

Against Nebraska here at home, Gesicki comes out of the slot and works his way up the field, drawing the attention of the Huskers’s safety. At the top of his stem, Gesicki has a nice head fake to the outside, while jabbing outside with his left foot to work back to the middle.

The head fake freezes the safety for just a second, allowing Gesicki to slip inside of him for the touchdown.

Gesicki certainly has the height, speed and length to excel at the position in the NFL for a long time, but if he continues to make improvements as a route runner, he’s going to be a major force to reckon with.

Just don’t ask him to be an in-line tight end or h-back at the next level, like Penn State asked him to do the last two years. Split him out wide and let him work. He’s way more of a receiver than tight end at this point in his career.

Don’t try to change him to fit your offense; adjust to him and flourish.

Projection:  Early Day 2

Games Watched:  vs. Army (’15),  at Pittsburgh (’16), at Indiana (’16), at Michigan (’16), at Michigan State (’16), vs. USC (’17), at Northwestern (’17), vs. Indiana (’17), vs. Michigan (’17), at Ohio State (’17), at Michigan State (’17), vs. Rutgers (’17), vs. Nebraska (’17), at Maryland (’17), vs. Washington (’17)

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Trayvon Henderson Josh Rosen Ronnie Harrison Kallen Ballage Cedric Wilson Jr.
Micah Kiser Will Hernandez Leighton Vander Esch Josh Allen   Harold Landry
Marquis Haynes  Tremaine Edmunds Kerryon Johnson Lorenzo Carter  Sony Michael
Kyzir White  Rashaan Evans  Tegray Scales  Isaac Yiadom  Jeff Holland
 Rashaad Penny John Kelly Bo Scarbrough  Roquan Smith  Durham Smythe
 Mark Walton  Josey Jewell  PJ Hall  Dorian O’Daniel  Josh Adams
 Leon Jacobs  Marcus Davenport  Jack Cichy  Royce Freeman  Nick DeLuca
 Vita Vea  Darrel Williams  Mason Rudolph  Shaun Dion Hamilton  MJ Stewart
 Derwin James  Kameron Kelly Justin Reid Sam Hubbard Da’Ron Payne
DaeSean Hamilton Nyheim Hines Arden Key Hercules Mata’afa Jason Cabinda
Marcus Allen Michael Gallup Jessie Bates III Kemoko Turay Genard Avery
Hayden Hurst Dallas Goedert Andrew Brown Allen Lazard Davin Bellamy
Phillip Lindsay Jalyn Holmes DJ Chark
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