Why Florida's Jordan Reed Is the NFL's Next Aaron Hernandez

Alessandro Miglio@@AlexMiglioFeatured ColumnistApril 5, 2013

The comparisons are inevitable for Jordan Reed and Aaron Hernandez.

Both tight ends hail from the same school, just two years apart. "Undersized, pass-catching tight end" is a common description. They are both dynamic after the catch. Neither is a good blocker.

Someone mentioned Jordan Reed from FL. Love him on tape. Chance to be next "Joker" TE in NFL. Very similar to Hernandez.

— Greg Cosell (@gregcosell) March 14, 2013

#UF TE Jordan Reed ran unofficial times of 4.63 and 4.62 seconds. Both good times for him. The Aaron Hernandez comparisons can continue.

— Dion Caputi (@nfldraftupdate) February 23, 2013

#Florida TE Jordan Reed is the prototypical, off the line or JOKER Y. In the mold of former Gator Aaron Hernandez, Reed is a plus athlete

— Alex Brown (@ABXXV25) January 4, 2013

Is the comparison skin deep, or will we see Hernandez 2.0 when Reed comes into the league?

Let's start with the measurables. Hernandez is 6'1" and 245 pounds. Reed is just an inch taller and 236 pounds, a nearly negligible difference. Hernandez ran the 40-yard dash in 4.58 seconds at his pro day, a bit faster than Reed's official time of 4.72 seconds at the combine.

The two are obviously similar from a physical standpoint

Hernandez was projected to go higher in the 2010 draft, eventually falling to the fourth round. Reed might not be so lucky with such a strong tight end class and tape that does not quite hold up to Hernandez's.

Like an alligator in the Everglades, though, Reed is hiding in the weeds. Taken by the right team with the right idea, he can have a Hernandez-like impact right away.

Of course, one player was part of a national championship team in a high-octane offense while the other has had to deal with the likes of John Brantley and Jeff Driskel at quarterback. Yet Reed was able to show what he could do on many occasions.

The Swiss army knife qualities Hernandez possesses drew Bill Belichick to him, who couldn't resist taking him in the fourth round of a draft where he already had taken Rob Gronkowski in the second.

New England has seemingly utilized Hernandez in every which way but quarterback. He has been a true joker for Tom Brady and that offense, and opposing defenses weren't laughing. He has lined up all over the field, even taking traditional handoffs at time.

Jordan Reed has a lot of those qualities. As the tweets above show, the Gators utilized him as a joker too, with great success when they could get him the ball.

His biggest issue is strength, where Hernandez was better coming out of college.  He needs to get stronger lest his blocking deficiencies be magnified at the next level.

How similar are the two? The following is a pair of scouting reports for Hernandez and Reed, with the names redacted:

[Player A] will probably be a part-time contributor in his first year or two as he continues to add more muscle and get stronger. However, his athleticism, ball skills and experience detaching from the formation and lining up as a wide receiver will make him an intriguing matchup piece and will give him a role to ease into until he becomes a full-time player. 

[Player B] is far from the most complete tight end in the draft, but he may be the best receiving tight end. A pure pass catcher, [Player B] is a wide receiver in a tight end’s body. He has the quickness, football smarts, and physical ability to create separation and make plays at the next level. Though he’ll probably play more of an H-back role for an NFL team, that doesn’t mean he won’t be a solid contributor. If [Player B] can land on a team that likes to spread the defense out and doesn’t ask him to block much, he could have himself a very nice NFL career.

While Jordan Reed does compare to Aaron Hernandez favorably, the latter had an edge in speed and strength heading into the NFL. This means Reed will likely fall farther and take more time to develop.

Maybe it was a concerted effort to recruit similar players, or perhaps it is simply a coincidence, but the best comparison for Aaron Hernandez in the 2013 draft is Jordan Reed. Given the right opportunity, he will have similar success.