With the 2014 NFL Draft only a few months away, we reached out to some of the draft prospects we believe the Green Bay Packers could target in May. We’ve already heard from plenty of great draft prospects this week like Stephon Tuitt and Yawin Smallwood, but today, we hear from a tight end prospect that seems to be made for Green Bay, Colorado State’s Crockett Gillmore.
Gillmore started 35 games at tight end in his four years at Colorado State and was a reliable passing target in the Rams offense, recording 111 receptions and eight touchdowns in his collegiate career.
The Texas native was also named first-team All-Mountain West and put on the John Mackey Award watch list for Most Outstanding Tight End in NCAA Division I for his strong 2013 performance (47 rec, 577 yds, 2 TDs). Gillmore also turned some heads in Mobile with his excellent performance in the Senior Bowl.
At 6-foot-6 and 260 pounds, Gillmore offers a big receiving target in the middle of the field, but he is also known for being an excellent run blocker. It’s Gillmore’s combination of size, receiving ability, and affinity to block that will intrigue plenty of NFL teams come draft time.
To learn more about Gillmore, we reached out to him, and I had the privilege to speak with him over the phone.
Q. Tell us a little bit about your background. Where did you grow up, and how did you get into football?
CG: I’m from Bushland, TX. It’s a small town less than a thousand people. Since I was little all I wanted to do was play football. Football is big in Texas. I grew up watching the Packers, Cowboys, and Redskins play, and I have always loved the game. I also have three older bothers and we played football a lot together growing up. I always tried to compete with my brother Austin, who’s only two years older than me and the closest in age. I played football with Austin in high school, and he was a junior when I was a freshman and joined the team. We were always about the same size, but he was the best in his class and always the strongest. In football, I was always trying to compete with him and just trying to match his speed and quickness. My older bothers just helped me out tremendously. They kept me competitive and challenged me.
Q. What led you to play tight end for Colorado State?
CG: The coaches at Colorado State were watching some film on my brother and a defensive end a couple of years older than me at our high school. They noticed me on the film and I was just a sophomore playing defensive end. I also played a little bit of wide receiver. They just kept me on their radar from then on, and I ended up being recruited there as a defensive end. In my sophomore year at Colorado State I switched to tight end.
Q. You played in both the Shrine Game and Senior Bowl. You had a busy couple of weeks in January. Tell us a little bit about how this experience was for you.
CG: It was unbelievable. I went home for Christmas after our bowl game only for four or five days, and I then I went to California to train until the Shrine Game. For the Shrine Game I traveled to Florida for the week and then I went back to California again to continue training. At the time, I didn’t know I was going to be in the Senior Bowl. My agent told me I wasn’t one of the tight ends invited. When I was in California training I got the call in the middle of the week to go to the Senior Bowl because a player got injured, so I headed straight out to Mobile, AL, to practice with the team for a bit and play in the game on Saturday. It was a lot of flying back and forth, but it was an awesome experience. I was exhausted, honestly, but it was a lot of fun.
Q. Where you surprised when you got the call to go to the Senior Bowl?
CG: I was really surprised they called me for the Senior Bowl. I thought I should have got the invite originally, but you take what you can get. I knew I could compete with those players. I got the call and felt I was excited to play with such great players in Mobile. When I got there, I decided to just go there and do what I do. Just go down there and relax and play. I ended up leading the game in receiving. I put together a good game. My forte is catching the ball, but as a senior I became more of a blocker because of the offense we were running at Colorado State. I wasn’t utilized as much in the passing game, at least not in the way I know I can be. The Senior Bowl just gave me a chance to showcase my pass catching ability a bit.
Q. Do you think you surprised some people with your performance in Mobile?
CG: The teams that have been watching me throughout the season knew what I am capable of, but I’m sure there were some teams who haven’t been watching me that may have been surprised with my performance at the Senior Bowl.
Q. For people you haven’t seen you play in college, how would you describe the type of tight end you are?
CG: I’m a guy that’s going to play to the whistle. I’m not going to be just standing around at the end of plays. I’m a tough, aggressive player that plays with a defensive player’s mentality. I play all out when I step on the field. My mindset is if it’s fourth and one then we’re getting two. I believe in always doing everything extra, whether it’s running, conditioning, or practice. I just try to give max effort. That’s just the way I am. I play with a chip on my shoulder and try to give it everything I got.
Q. What are the strengths of your game?
CG: I can block well, and I have good hands for the position. I can go over the middle of the field and catch the ball in traffic. That’s part of your job as a tight end. I open up the run game with my ability to catch the ball in the middle of the field. I can also force safeties to have to come down and account for me, which opens up things downfield. I try to do everything at the position well.
Q. What part of your game would you like to most improve leading up to the draft?
CG: I’m working a lot on my speed. That’s always something I’ve been working on. I’m not as fast as I should be. Some people say I don’t look fast on the field because I’m tall and run with long strides, but I know I have speed. I also know I can be faster. I’d like to work on getting down to the 4.7 and 4.6 range for my 40 time. That is where I should be at. I also just want to work on being fast out of my breaks, and just work on my core strength and having better body control.
Q. In your opinion, what is the most underrated part of your game?
CG: I can go up and get the ball. We didn’t really utilize that in college very much because I became more of a run blocker in the scheme we were running, but I believe that is one of my strengths. I was able to put that on tape during the week in Florida at the Shrine game and the week in Mobile for the Senior Bowl. So that should show teams my ability to catch the ball. Even though it was something that was underused in college, I played wide out in high school and know how to make plays in the passing game.
Q. You said earlier you played defensive end before converting to tight end in your sophomore year at Colorado State. Was this a difficult transition?
CG: At first it was tough. I was primarily a defensive player coming in, so when I first transitioned to tight end I head butted everybody and wasn’t used to using my hands. But I had great coaches, specifically the offensive line coach, that showed me how to use my hands to engage with defenders and use proper blocking technique. I also worked on getting bigger because when I first made the switch I only weighed 225 pounds. It was just a matter of learning better technique and getting bigger.
Q. How has playing defense helped you at the tight end position?
CG: Just knowing the scheme of the defense and knowing what’s going on behind you really helps, and knowing about outside pressure and about technique the defenders are using. If a linebacker has outside contain then I can really attack that edge and keep them out of the play. It just helps me with my leverage and knowing what to expect from the players you’re blocking.
Q. The Packers could be looking to draft a tight end this spring. How would you feel about playing in Green Bay, and what kind of player and teammate would they be getting?
CG: It’d be a dream come true. I’d be excited. They got a great back there. I’m a guy that’s willing to do the dirty work. They’d get a guy that can block. You got to be able to run the ball in the snow and play physical. I think I’d fit in well. It would be a great place to play. I mean, talk about a place you’d put your money to go that would be the place for sure. To play with Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, and Clay Matthews. That’d be great.
Q. Do you know much about the town or organization?
CG: I know it’s a smaller town, but I’m from a small town so I think I’d be used to it. I know it’s a good environment to play at. Coming from Texas, football is all we do, so if Green Bay is like that, I think I’d fit in. My grandparents grew up Packers fans, so I watched them a lot growing up. I watched Brett Favre and some of their great teams over the years. Between my dad being a Bears fan and my grandparents being Packers fans, I know a lot about the team and the division rivalry.
Q. What could you learn from players like Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson?
CG: I’d love to learn anything they’d be willing to teach me. They have such chemistry. The way Rodgers throws the ball all over the field. He’s just so accurate. He just hits the open receiver, and I just want to be part of it and learn from great players like these guys.
Q. Are there any NFL players you try to model your game after or have drawn comparisons to?
CG: I’ve been watching Jimmy Graham a lot because of his size. We have a similar frame. He has a few pounds on me, but I hope to be that size if not a little bigger going into the league. He’s more of a route runner and I’m more of a blocker, but the way he goes up and gets the ball and takes over a defense is something I want to try and aspire to.
Q. Who have been the most influential people in your life?
CG: I’d say my parents and my close family. My parents have been married for 33 years. I also have three older brothers and a little sister that I’m close with. Those are the people I’ve watched work hard their whole lives. They’ve been good examples for me. I try to work the same way they do.
Q. When you’re away from football, what do you like to do in your free time?
CG: I go fishing any chance I get. In Colorado they got great bass fishing. I like to take the boat out with my buddies and hit up in any lake or pond we can find. It’s relaxing and something to do to get away for a bit.
Career college stats
2013 – 47 rec, 577 yards, 12.28 avg, 2 TDs
2012 – 19 rec, 263 yards, 13.84 avg, 2 TDs
2011 – 45 rec, 468 yards, 10.40 avg, 4 TDs
2010 – 11 tackles, 2 TFL, and a sack
Film on Crockett Gillmore
Crockett Gillmore against San Jose State: 5 rec, 76 yards, and a TD