The Virginia Tech Hokies have just one player participating in the 2020 NFL Combine this week. That is tight end Dalton Keene, who announced last month he was forgoing his final season of eligibility to enter the 2020 NFL Draft.
On Monday, Keene weighed in, and from all accounts, stacked up pretty well.
Keene was a three-year starter for the Hokies at tight end. He posted modest numbers, catching 59 passes for 748 yards and eight touchdowns. What you don’t see in those numbers is how Keene improved each year.
As a freshman, Keene caught 10 passes. As a sophomore, he caught 28 passes for three scores, while catching 21 passes for five touchdowns in 2019. While his receptions went down in 2019, his productivity went up.
Keene was often the top target of Hendon Hooker in the red zone. In addition to his duties at tight end, Keene also lined up as a fullback, H-back and even as a slot receiver. He also carried the ball 11 times last season. His versatility is something that has gotten him noticed at the Combine.
Some position requests made by teams (player has to accept):— NFL Draft (@NFLDraft) February 26, 2020
TE ➡️ RB
WR ➡️ TE
WR ➡️ RB
RB ➡️ WR
On Wednesday, it was reported Keene was asked to work out at running back, likely meaning some teams liked his potential as a fullback option at the next level. With more NFL teams searching for players who can serve in a variety of roles, this makes sense. Keene can help out at tight end, fullback or at H-back. Plus, he can help on special teams, too.
While speaking at the Combine, Keene reflected on his time in Blacksburg, as transcribed by Evan Watkins of 247Sports.
Oh that was huge for me. Especially going in as a freshman and making an impact right away. I started 38 out of 39 games, so I got a ton of experience there. That was huge for me. I got some great coaching, I can’t say enough good things about my time there.
Keene played in every game during his three years in Blacksburg, becoming an immediate starter as a true freshman. That’s impressive.
Keene will make plenty of fans this week at the NFL Combine, especially during one-on-one interviews and once they see him work out. Unlike many players who shine during Combine week, Keene’s actual tape will impress, too.
Keene will be missed in Blacksburg, but here’s hoping for a long and successful NFL career.