Birthday: June 30, 1981
Strengths: The best tight ends usually contribute in several different ways during a game – as receivers, blockers, and maybe on special teams – but how many can also help out in the pregame festivities? Minnesota’s Ben Utecht can. Scouting reports on Utecht can list “great pipes” (along with other attributes like size, speed, and hands), as he has sung the national anthem at several events in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area with his former roommate, an ex-Golden Gopher kicker.
During the game, Utecht draws rave reviews as well. An excellent all-around athlete who was a wide receiver, punter, hockey goalie, and long jumper in high school, Utecht has soft hands and the hand-eye coordination to adjust to the ball in air and make the difficult catch. His height and quickness make him a difficult match-up in coverage. Utecht did a great deal of damage to opponents over the middle of last year, and despite being slowed by a stress fracture in his foot, he finished as Minnesota’s second leading receiver. He has shown great improvement as a blocker over the course of his college career.
Areas of Concern: A converted wideout, Utecht is not and may never be an above-average in-line blocker. Even though he weighs 250 lbs., he still looks more like a big receiver than a true tight end and could stand to add some more muscle to his lanky frame.
While he is an effective receiver in the short zones and can make yards after the catch, Utecht lacks the pure speed to be a downfield threat like Tony Gonzalez or Jeremy Shockey. He may, however, be faster than he showed in 2002 due to the foot injury.
How Would He Look in Steel Blue? Utecht would thrive in a Billy Miller role for the Texans – a reliable outlet receiver who can throw a block but should not be asked to handle a defensive end or linebacker at the point of attack. His three-inch height advantage and potential to get bigger and stronger would give him an edge over Miller, who has added about as much bulk as his frame will carry. Utecht could become an NFL quarterback’s best friend thanks to his great hands and ability to find and exploit the soft spots in the coverage scheme.
(profile written by Warren DeLuca
Ben Utecht’s 2002 Stats G CTH YDS AVG TD 13 37 480 13.0 6
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