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Washington Redskins UDFA profile - Matt Flanagan, TE, Rutgers & Pitt

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Is this the big blocking tight end the Redskins have needed for so long?

NCAA Football: Rice at Pittsburgh Don Wright-USA TODAY Sports

This guy looks like the missing link. He’s not a burner nor an explosive athlete, but he does the dirty work in the run game. He doesn’t have much of a route tree outside of pop passes up the seam, shovel passes, and flare outs. All I know from the cut ups is that DBs and linebackers want nothing to do with him on their run fits.If he can make the contested catch in the intermediate zones, he’ll make the roster as a reserve TE/special teamer or practice squad player.

BnG

Flanagan came to Pitt for his senior year after spending three seasons at Rutgers. He didn’t post huge numbers as the Panthers’ passing game struggled most of the season. But he did catch 17 passes for 160 yards, which were both career highs, and his 17 grabs were tied for fifth on the team. Flanagan wasn’t expected to be selected in the draft so this is hardly a disappointment for him. Good to see that he’ll get a chance to continue his career in Washington.

Anson Whaley, Cardiac Hill

Matt Flanagan has an unlikely profile for an NFL prospect.

Flanagan started his career at Rutgers as a walk-on before earning a scholarship. A 6-foot-6, 260-pound New Jersey native, Flanagan was used sparingly in his three seasons with the Scarlet Knights. He had six catches for 29 yards in his final season at Rutgers after highs of 11 receptions, 110 yards and three touchdowns as a redshirt sophomore.

Norfolk State v Rutgers Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images

He graduated from Rutgers, earning his degree, and wanted to pursue a master’s degree in research-based science.

“Being a biological sciences major, in order to pursue a doctorate degree — which is something I plan on doing — I need to get started on my thesis at the same university,” Flanagan said then. “In most scientific communities, it’s accepted to start another research project at a different school and keep going through dissertation.”

Flanagan [was] part of a select group of Rutgers students studying at the Aresty Research Center. He ... spent three years researching with the hopes of publishing findings on the effects of Creatine supplementation on osteoblast differentiation.

In other words, [they are investigating] how the supplement, popular among body builders and made famous by MLB sluggers like Mark McGwire, impacts the cells that synthesize bone.

“I started to ask questions,” Flanagan said. “If it is so positive and beneficial for your muscular health, what can it do to other cells in your body? There is plenty of documented data about what it does, not only to your body, but also to your brain. One of the really interesting thoughts that I had is: What can it do for bones?”

So Matt Flanagan moved on to the University of Pittsburgh, but he still had a year of eligibility remaining as a football player. This is how his arrival at Pitt was described by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

When Pat Narduzzi tweeted his usual commitment alert after Saturday’s scrimmage, it seemed Pitt had a new recruit in the fold.

Turns out, it’s not a high school prospect but a grizzled veteran of college football.

Matt Flanagan announced Monday afternoon on Twitter that he will graduate from Rutgers and transfer to Pitt, making him immediately eligible in the fall for his final season.

Flanagan is now 23 years old, and an undrafted free agent tight end under contract to the Washington Redskins.

Norfolk State v Rutgers Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images

As you can tell from the comments and news reports above, he has had a very limited career as a pass catcher. Here’s a quick look at his career statistics:

It doesn’t appear that Flanagan is likely to supplant Jordan Reed or Vernon Davis as a pass-catcher, but he may bring a skill that the Redskins need.

He appears to be a willing blocker.

There’s not a lot of film available on Matt Flanagan, but the highlight reel below shows a guy who looks like he can haul in a pass if he it comes his way, and has the ability to move defenders out of the way.

Here’s what Gibbs4potus had to say about Washington’s undrafted free agent tight end after watching this film.

An overview of his college career

Matt Flanagan played in 12 games in 3 years at Rutgers, where he caught 18 passes. Flanagan caught 11 of those passes — including 3 touchdowns — during his sophomore season at Rutgers. He may of shown promise that season but my guess is that injuries derailed his career somewhat.

After graduating, Flanagan was able to transfer to Pittsburgh for his final year of eligibility. He had his best season statistically with 17 receptions but was limited to only 8 games. He also didn’t catch a touchdown in 2017, so his college career totaled 35 receptions, 295 yards and 3 touchdowns in 20 games over 4 years.

The (almost) invisible man

Finding film of Flanagan was an adventure.

His agency put out a 4 minute highlight reel of him mostly blocking. There were no downfield catches in the short accumulation of plays so my best guess is that Flanagan didn’t have any.

A willing blocker

Looking further, I found tape of Flanagan’s teammate, Brian O’Neill vs Syracuse and I was able to watch Flanagan some in that game. He is a good blocker and uses good form and technique. He appears to be too high when he is blocking, but he is 6’6” and was usually blocking smaller players on the perimeter of the play.

Despite weighing 260lbs, Flanagan has a sleight build. He could obviously add bulk and muscle to his frame with an offseason in the Redskins strength and conditioning program, and I believe that increased size could help Flanagan develop into a good blocking tight end in the NFL.

Limited route tree, but reliable hands

I was also able to watch a short clip of Max Browne, the Pitt quarterback, vs Rice, and saw a few plays with Flanagan. The other clip I watched was of Marcus Allen of Penn State and Flanagan had even more plays in that game.

The only passes that I saw going to Flanagan were shovel passes behind the offensive line, and passes into the flat with the quarterback rolling out. He didn’t drop any of those passes, but had limited runs after the catches. His career average per catch of 8.7 yards reflects that of a short passing game target.

How would he fit with the Redskins?

I think Flanagan has the potential to develop into a 3rd TE used primarily in blocking situations. He might also have some value in the red zone due to his height.

Barring injury to a player ahead of him, I don’t see any way that Flanagan makes the 53 man roster. Even in the event of multiple injuries, there are better options on the Redskins 90 man roster than Flanagan and in the event of multiple injuries, the Redskins are likely to seek a trade to acquire a player ready to play in real NFL games.

Even making the Redskins practice squad may be tough for Flanagan. Manasseh Garner has experience with the team and also played at Pitt. Flanagan has a big size advantage over Garner though and the Redskins need better blocking from the tight end position so I give Flanagan an edge over Garner to make the practice squad for now. Training camp and the preseason games will determine the winner.

Let’s take a look at some of Matt’s Twitter feed:

Poll

As UDFAs go, rate Matt Flanagan

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    A
    (46 votes)
  • 27%
    B
    (140 votes)
  • 49%
    C
    (251 votes)
  • 12%
    D
    (65 votes)
  • 1%
    F
    (9 votes)
511 votes total Vote Now

Poll

How good are the chances that Matt Flanagan is on the Redskins roster in 2018?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    Pretty strong
    (21 votes)
  • 10%
    Above average
    (53 votes)
  • 30%
    50/50
    (156 votes)
  • 55%
    Unlikely
    (289 votes)
519 votes total Vote Now