NFL Draft Scouting Report: Cole Hikutini

Tight End #18
Senior 6’5″ 248

  • 2016 Second Team All-ACC
  • High YAC production
  • Adjusts to ball well in air
  • Goal line threat
  • Only one year of solid production
  • Blocking must improve

Cole Hikutini is an athletic tight end who lead the Cardinals in receptions (50) as a Senior in 2016. Hikutini played only one year of high school football and after being a Junior College transfer, his game is still very raw. However, Hikutini is an athletic tight end, who poses match up problems for defenses, particularly in the red zone. He does his best work down the seam, where he can match up against linebackers and run through defensive backs as seen below.

This clip illustrates the matchup problem he can create. Hikutini to elusive for the linebackers a big enough to take on the safeties for extra yardage. A natural pass catcher, utilized in the correct offense that highlights his skill set he could contribute as a pass catching tight end while refining areas of his game that need improving. In breaking down Hikutini his raw skills are undeniable.

With that being said, he is still a raw route runner who wasn’t asked to run a variety of routes at Louisville despite being moved all over the field. His blocking must improve if he wants to become a “three down” tight end. His draft value is further damaged as Hikutini played little to no special teams and he must prove to NFL franchises that he can fill this role while learning to improve in the trenches and his route running.

Games Watched: 2016-N.C. State, Florida St.

Round Value: Fourth Round

Player Comparison:  Gary Barnidge.

Both being Louisville alumni is only the beginning of this comparison. Barnidge  was a 6’6″ 243 pound receiving tight end in a spread system when he graduated in 2007 who’s blocking needed work. Sound familiar? Like his predecessor, Hikutini’s pass catching is not in question. He will need time to develop into a “complete” tight end while adding strength and size to his frame.

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