Ohio State football | Nick Vannett aims to emulate Rob Gronkowski's game
INDIANAPOLIS – Nick Vannett is embracing a new nickname.
The Ohio State tight end has seen himself referred to on Twitter as "Baby Gronk" after New England star Rob Gronkowski.
"I'm going to do my best to keep that going because that's a helluva comparison," Vannett said at the NFL combine today.
The Westerville Central product said he studied tape of Gronkowski in the offseason.
"He can go down the field vertically and create mismatches and make a play in the pass game as well as block an in-line D-end," Vannett said. "There's not much he can't do. That's who I want to be.
"I'm not to that point yet, but I'm working to get to his level."
Vannett had only 19 catches and zero touchdowns in 2015 in an Ohio State offense loaded with offensive playmakers.
"That's the first thing, when I meet with these teams, they always (say), 'We feel like you're underutilized,'" Vannett said. "I always smirk when I hear that. We have so many threats at Ohio State. It's kind of hard for them to spread the ball around to every one of us."
But he believes the pass-catching ability he flashed at the Senior Bowl and his improved run blocking his final year as a Buckeye makes him the most complete tight end in the draft.
"I felt I was a big contributor of why the offense was very successful especially in the run game," Vannett said. "I felt I made a lot of the key blocks that helped spring Zeke (Elliott) free.
"Even though I had only 19 catches and didn't score a touchdown I still feel I made clutch plays when they needed to be done. I'm very happy with the season I had."
His mission this week is simple.
"I just want to show everybody that I'm the best tight end in the draft,"
Vannett is projected as a third-round pick with a chance to go in the second round. Gronkowski was a second-rounder in 2010.
Gronkowski has become known as much for his off-field partying antics as his athletic prowess. That's where the nickname might not fit.
"I'm not as crazy as him, by any means," Vannett said.