Welcome to the NFL, Tyler Kroft and Michael Burton.
The two Scarlet Knights were drafted higher than expected at this past weekend's NFL Draft, with Kroft going in the third round (85th overall) to the Cincinnati Bengals and Burton in the fifth (168th overall) to the Detroit Lions.
The Bengals' selection of Kroft sparks a Rutgers reunion, as he joins former Knights Mohamed Sanu, Kevin Brock and Clark Harris in Cincinnati. According to reports, Sanu played a key role in the Bengals' drafting of Kroft.
Jon Hayes said Mo Sanu came up to his room on Thursday and said "let's add another Scarlet Knight to our team."— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) May 2, 2015
Tyler Kroft was the third (fourth, if you count Michigan WR/TE tweener Devin Funchess) tight end selected in the draft, going seven spots ahead of Ohio State's Jeff Heuerman.
The Bengals' tight end position is in flux, with Jermaine Gresham on his way out and Tyler Eifert dealing with injuries. Kroft possesses both the blocking skills and pass-catching ability to be an every-down player and could be a starter for Cincinnati by the middle of the season.
Running back Jeremy Hill emerged late last season and the Bengals transitioned to a more run-based attack. If Cincinnati continues that into 2015, Kroft could see a lot of action on short-yardage downs. And with Sanu and all-pro A.J. Green lined up on the outside, Kroft should have plenty of room to work in the middle of the field.
To take pressure off of Andy Dalton, Cincinnati will likely run a lot of two-tight end, power-running sets. Those sets will feature Kroft, as he was one of the better blockers in the tight end class. Out of these sets comes a lot of play-action passes, which Kroft excels in due to his quickness and athleticism.
Cincinnati's recent tight end selections, such as Gresham, Eifert and Chase Coffman, have not lived up to the potential, but hopes are high for Kroft.
Michael Burton was the second true fullback selected in the draft, behind only Jalston Fowler of Alabama, who went in the fourth round.
Detroit's selection of Burton raised some eyebrows, as the Lions' offense has rarely featured a fullback in the past. However, Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, who has stressed the need for a consistent running game, raved about Burton during his draft press conference.
"Strong guy. Smart player. Tough," said Lombardi of Burton. "He's everything you want in a fullback."
Aside from being a run blocker, Burton could see a lot of action around the goaline, similar to how the Packers use John Kuhn. He has the size and burst to be effective on fullback dives, while also possessing the soft hands and quickness to be a factor in the passing game, as evidenced by the video below.
Kroft and Burton were both drafted higher than expected for good reason. They are your typical hard-working lunchpail guys, but have the athleticism and size to create mismatches at the next level.
They should both see plenty of action in their rookie seasons and have the potential to be the next Scarlet Knights to have successful NFL careers despite not being round one selections.