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Waldron Looking for Elite Trait in TEs at Combine

INDIANAPOLIS — Aside from the headlining quarterbacks and wide receivers, tight ends also went through their on-field workouts for the 2018 NFL Combine on Saturday.

And with that, Rams pass game coordinator Shane Waldron was on the field with the players, getting an up-close look at some of the league's incoming rookies.

While head coach Sean McVay recently promoted Waldron to help replace former offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur — who departed to become the Titans' offensive coordinator and play caller — Waldron will still keep his duties as tight ends coach.

"It just adds a little bit more to the plate, and [we'll] spread out some of the other stuff to some of the other coaches on the staff as well," Waldron said on Saturday.

Check out photos of offensive linemen and running backs at the 2018 NFL Combine

But with before he can get going on coaching tight ends in 2018, Waldron's busy scouting them. And he said the partnership between general manager Les Snead's personnel staff and McVay's coaching staff has been quite strong.

"With Les and Sean, they have such a great, open-minded communication. And you get a chance as coaches, to describe what we're looking for in each position, and I think they really listen and take it to heart," Waldron said. "And then when they're out on the road and they're looking at guys and they bring them up, we have a really similar vision as to what we're looking for."

What does that look like for tight ends? Since players at the position must be able to perform a number of tasks — pass blocking, run blocking, receiving — Waldron likes to keep his approach fairly simple.

"Every tight end is a little bit different. It's really hard to say that there's that mold of a tight end because you get these guys — some are more receivers, some are more blockers. There's a little bit different traits in each guy," Waldron said. "So, really, what I want to try to find is a guy who has one great characteristic and you see the potential to grow into the position. And like any good offense, if they're good enough to break the starting 11 there, then you find out what they're good at and you build it around that."

Last year, Gerald Everett's receiving ability stood out to Waldron in the Combine drills.

"[H]e's got elite ball tracking skills, his ability to make plays after the catch — stuff like that. So that, in my mind, was his elite trait that he had," Waldron said. "And it makes you say, 'Let's take a chance on this guy, get hm, and get him in the building, and build the offense around some of his strengths as well.'"

Saturday was the first time Waldron has watched the tight ends workout on the field at the NFL Combine. He said he'd been looking forward to it because it's a chance to see the players truly in their element.

Check out photos of head coach Sean McVay and general manager Les Snead at the 2018 NFL Combine.

"Great advantage just to be around the guys a little bit more and out of the interview setting, where maybe they've been prepped a little bit and you kind of tend to get some robotic answers," Waldron said. "But just to be around those guys, get a feel for how they'd be as teammates — I think one of the key things in any good team is that locker room continuity. So it's a chance to see, do these guys fit? And everyone fits differently at different places. So we'd like to find guys that we think will come into our locker room and continue what we've already begun to build."

Whether the Rams bring in another tight end from this year's draft class or not, Waldron said he's looking for improvement throughout a group that includes Everett, Tyler Higbee, and Temarrick Hemingway — who will be returning from a torn ACL suffered during preseason play.

"I think all of them are going to have long careers and great careers ahead of them as they keep improving each individual aspect," Waldron said. "I thought Tyler did a great job coming along as a blocker. Know he can catch the ball and keep working that way. And then Gerald, obviously, developing as a full, all-around player — he's got some great things that he can continue to work on.

"And with Temarrick, just excited because that's a guy — you can't control some of the injury things that happen and all I've seen him do is work his butt off every day in this offseason, and during the season when he's in his rehab process," Waldron added. "So I'm excited to get him back in here, when OTAs get going I can actually be around him again on the field just to see what he's been able to accomplish, because it's been awesome to watch him be so diligent in the rehab process."

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