Versatile; could be a blocking or receiving tight end in the NFL
Lacks elite speed
Not overly athletic
Summary: The weakest position in the 2015 NFL Draft is the tight end class. There isn't a definite first-rounder in the group, and overall, this is a bad year for teams looking to improve at the tight end position. Receiving tight ends are valuable because they create mismatches, and many teams are seeking to add a weapon at the position as a result. With all that being the case, Walford benefits from good timing for being draft eligible.
Walford spent the last four years as a contributor for the Hurricanes. He had some production as a freshman (18-172), with a bigger impact as a sophomore with 25 receptions for 451 yards and four scores. In his junior year, Walford had 34 passes for 454 yards with two touchdowns.
Walford was at his most impressive in 2014 when he produced despite inconsistent quarterback play as Miami was starting a freshman signal-caller. The senior tight end put together 44 receptions for 676 yards and seven touchdowns. He was a real weapon in the middle of the field and showed the ability to make some impressive catches.
Walford went on to have a superb Senior Bowl. He had an excellent week that sent a real jolt into his draft stock. Walford beat defenders at the line of scrimmage and achieved separation in his route running. He showcased his soft hands and made some beautiful diving receptions. Walford was too quick for linebackers and used his size well to beat defensive backs.
For the NFL, Walford is a balanced tight end who won't be limited to running or passing situations. He is well built and a willing blocker. Walford has room for improvement, but he had a quality senior year in helping to open holes for Miami running back Duke Johnson. Walford could end up being a solid starter and a three-down player. He won't be a receiving weapon on the level of Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham, but Walford could be a good receiver who produces respectable numbers in the passing game.
In the 2015 NFL Draft, Walford could go as high as the second round and shouldn't go any lower than somewhere in the fourth round.
Player Comparison: Dwayne Allen. Allen is a faster, more athletic version of Walford. However, they have a similar playing style. Allen is a good receiver who is underestimated, and that has been the case for Walford. Allen went early in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft, and when healthy, Allen has been a better tight end than teammate Coby Fleener, who was chosen a round earlier. Walford could go in a similar range on the second day of the 2015 NFL raft.
There are a number of teams looking to add a tight end this offseason. Seattle could use an improved receiving element from the tight end position, and Walford could provide an impact for the Seahawks with one of their second-day picks.
Atlanta needs a better tight end than Levine Toilolo, who hasn't proved to be the long-term replacement for Tony Gonzalez. The Falcons missed the future Hall of Famer in 2014, and Walford would be an immediate upgrade them.
The Browns could lose Jordan Cameron in free agency, but Walford could be a quality replacement. Likewise, Denver looks poised to lose Julius Thomas, and Walford could be the best and cheapest direction the Broncos have to go.
The Texans took a tight end in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft, but selection, C.J. Fiedorowicz, is a blocking tight end. Houston wants a receiving tight end to pair with him.
In the AFC East, the Bills and Dolphins could both use a receiving tight end. Miami would be in particular need if Charles Clay leaves in free agency. Buffalo, on the other hand, needs a tight end who can be a passing weapon for their quarterback.
The Steelers could draft Walford as an understudy to veteran Heath Miller. Also, the Jaguars could move on from the disappointing Marcedes Lewis and would need a receiving tight end for Blake Bortles.