Fauria has excellent measurables. He is freakishly big at 6í8, 252lbs (he could pass for 6í10 on film), and he has excellent speed for his size. He only runs an average 40 (4.82), but he looks much faster on film. However, thanks to that height, 252lbs isnít that big, and he could definitely afford to as some bulk. Physically, Fauria is very similar to Jimmy Graham.
Fauria has decent stats. In 2011, his first season as a starter, Fauria had 39 catches for 481 yards while maintaining an decent 12.3 yards per catch. He really came on toward the end of the season, getting at least 36 yards in each of the final 5 games. He also had 6 receiving touchdowns.
There are some character issues surrounding Fauria. Under the advice of a Buffalo Bills scout, Iíve decided Iím going to avoid forming opinions on a playerís character, simply because I really canít comment on a players character without meeting him or his coaches. However, Fauria had to transfer from Notre Dame to UCLA
for downright mysterious reasons. Fauria claims he was suspended for a semester for something minor (ďyouíd laugh if you knew [what it was]ď), and he left Notre Dame afterwards. Beyond the strange circumstances surrounding the Notre Dame exit, he also doesnít dominate as a blocker as much as you would think he would. Itís not that he doesnít care about football: he almost seems scared of blocking, and he doesnít block with a mean streak. I really donít want to question his toughness, but Iíd like to see more a mean streak from him as a run blocker.
Fauria is a good receiver. Maybe his biggest issue is that he plays in a strange offense that might not translate to yardage in the NFL. UCLA uses the pistol, typically with 1 back and 2 tight ends on opposite sides of each other. Neither tight end lines up on the line of scrimmage, so Fauria often gets yards running crossing routes in that are actually in his own backfield. Seriously. Fauria runs crossing routes behind the line of scrimmage in UCLAís offense. It works pretty well for him, but he wonít be running routes anything like that in the NFL. Fauria also isnít a great route runner, thanks to poor fundamentals and tight hips. On the other hand, Fauria has excellent hands and is impossible to beat on a jump ball. He seems to catch everything he touches (though he will trap passes against his frame), his speed makes him tough to cover, and his combination of height, long arms, and leaping ability makes him a nightmare for defenses on jump balls, especially in the red zone. He also is a major threat after the catch, often doing ridiculous hurdles over smaller defenders and using his power to run over defensive backs.
Fauria is a really poor blocker, namely because of terrible fundamentals. He has never had forward momentum going into a block in his life. He plays on his heels, and his typical stance is horrible unbalanced. A majority of his body weight is behind him, so it is simply easy to just push him down. He absolutely needs to try to learn how to get the slightest bit of forward momentum into his blocks, or defenders that are way smaller than he is will continue to run him over on a regular basis. When he is blocking, he looks like he is sitting down on an imaginary chair; almost all of his body weight is behind is feet and it is very easy for a defender to simply tip him over. He needs to bend at the waist and keep more of his body momentum going forward. Right now, Fauria is a terrible blocker.
As mentioned before, I said Fauria seems very similar to Jimmy Graham. I truly think that, in college, they are identical players. Like Fauria, Graham was physically gifted, but incredibly raw (especially as a blocker) coming out of college. Graham was loaded with physical ability but didnít know how to play football. Same with Fauria. But hereís the difference: Graham had an excuse for being raw out of college. He only spent one season on Miamiís football team. He spent most of his time at Miami as a forward on the basketball team. He was on the team from 2005-2009. 2010 was the only season in which he played football. It was the first time Graham had played football in 5 years. It shouldnít come as a surprise that his fundamentals were terrible. It had been years since he played football. Graham has since improved his fundamentals and turned into one of the best tight ends in the NFL. But why are Fauriaís fundamentals so poor? I donít know. He has no excuse. Heís been playing football nonstop for years. Either he struggles with coaching, or he struggles to change the poor fundamentals that have been a part of his game for most of his career. Again, in college, Fauria and Graham were very similar. But it might be tougher for Fauria to improve on his mistakes.
NFL Comparison: Jimmy Graham. But that might not be a good thing
Grade: 77 (worthy of an early 3rd round pick)
Projection: 86 (will be a mid second round pick)