It is rare for the NFL to see a player come into the league with wide receiver skills in an offensive tackle’s body. Joseph Fauria is listed at 6’7” 255lbs and looks just enormous on a football field. From his feet to his arms to his frame, everything about him suggests he could have been a prototypical offensive tackle, but he chose to be a tight end. The nephew of former NFL tight end Christian Fauria plays the position like an athletic power forward and if people sleep on his athleticism, he will make them pay for it. He has been productive and has a lot of upside in the NFL. His draft stock could fluctuate quite a bit in the upcoming months depending on how he interviews with teams and how much he decides to commit to the game, especially when it comes to blocking. He can start making his case that he is more committed in the Holiday Bowl before he has a week of practices at the Shrine Game as well as interviews to convince teams he will make blocking a priority. As it is, Fauria is an athletic freak that has a few marketable skills that could make him have a long productive career, but if he commits himself to being a complete tight end, he has the chance to be a superstar in the league and go early on day two.
Fauria has proven to be a red zone nightmare for the opposition. Because of his sheer size, his precise body control even in the air, and his ability to go up and get the ball at its highest point, he can easily post up against defenders and short of bringing a ladder, the defender is basically left to try to knock the ball out of his hands when he tries to bring it into his body. Fauria has caught 11 touchdowns this season which is 9 more than any of his teammates. One in every four of Fauria’s catches has been for a touchdown. UCLA has put him out wide or in the slot to isolate him against smaller defenders to create opportunities for him in addition for using him as an inline tight end taking up a ton of real estate in the middle of the field. In so many ways, Fauria just looks like an 8th grader playing against 5th graders as a receiver.
While his greatest impact is in the red zone and that is likely where he will be an immediate threat in the NFL, Fauria has shown to able to make plays all over the field. His 41 catches for 578 yards are good enough for second on the team in both categories. What makes Fauria crazy in terms of his potential is the fact he is a much bigger YAC threat than people would expect. He has good short area quickness and can make defenders miss both laterally and by leaping over them on occasion. It would be nice to see him use more power as a runner to take advantage of his 255lbs but getting YAC from a target like that is a bonus as it is.
When it comes to blocking, Fauria has the ability to block well and will occasionally do it and show a nice mean streak when doing it, but between inconsistent technique that makes him work harder than he has to and an attitude that often times suggests he could not care less about it, he has not proven he can be relied on to do the job. There is nothing physically that prevents him from being tremendous as a blocker. He has quick feet, moves well laterally, and he is more than strong enough to get push in the running game, so if he gets to the NFL and decides to make blocking a priority, he could be fantastic inline. Too often he is satisfied just to be in the way and will catch defenders as opposed to attacking them. And if he continues this lackadaisical blocking in the NFL, he is a giant tight end that can only be used as a joker and that would be extremely disappointing.
For a comparison to a current NFL player, Fauria is awfully similar to current New Orleans Saint Jimmy Graham in terms of their triangle numbers (Graham is listed at 6’7” 265lbs). Jimmy Graham played basketball for the Hurricanes for a few years before moving to football. He had reasonable production, but was more of an athletic projection than proven commodity coming into the league but did go in the 3rd round. Fauria is far more of a known than Graham and has a much better resume, but may not be able to do as much as Graham has in the NFL, particularly from a speed stand point. Graham has obviously benefited from playing for the Saints and with Drew Brees, so it will be interesting to see where Fauria ends up in the NFL to see if the comparison holds up beyond their height and weight and the general area where they will be drafted.
Joseph Fauria has received and accepted an invitation to play in the East West Shrine game. Between what he has already done, the upcoming bowl game against Baylor, and the Shrine game, these will be the best opportunities for him to raise his draft stock. If he can convince teams he is serious about being a better blocker, it could elevate him a round or two in the draft. While he could surprise in his workouts, teams basically already know what they are getting from him physically. A power forward style tight end that has become a hot commodity in the NFL, provided they will block. If teams are not convinced he will be a committed blocker in the NFL and is only a red zone threat at joker, he could easily find himself still available on the third day of the draft. Fauria has all the talent in the world and could become a superstar in the NFL if he just gets out of his own way. He has the ability to be as any of the potential underclassmen tight ends that could be in this draft and is the best senior available. Even in the worst case scenario, Fauria should be a productive tight end that can score a lot of points in the league. The sky is the limit for Fauria, but the floor is wherever he decides to set it. If he can dedicate himself to blocking and become a complete tight end, there is nothing preventing him from going in the second round with his talent and potential. If he does fall, a team will get themselves a productive weapon but might have themselves a steal if they can light a fire under him.
Videos courtesy of Draftbreakdown.com