(SportsNetwork.com) - Nick O'Leary probably doesn't fit in a world where Jimmy Graham and Julius Thomas are the prototypes, but the former Florida State tight end will carve out his own niche in the NFL.
Every team needs "glue guys," something former Vikings coach Mike Tice explained to me back in 2004 when taking about underrated, jack-of-all-trades running back Moe Williams.
"You probably can't win with 53 like him," Tice said of Williams, "but you sure can't win without one."
At just 6-foot-3 with a stumpy body and an average athletic skill set, O'Leary, who is probably best known for being the grandson of golfing icon Jack Nicklaus, is that type of player.
He sure isn't what NFL teams are looking for when prospects are running around and lifting weights in UnderArmour compression shirts, but when you pop in the tape, O'Leary just looks like a football player, a throwback to another era who is the epitome of what an H-back is supposed to be, a versatile option who can line up inline, in the backfield or in the slot.
The stopwatch says O'Leary is not a vertical seam threat nor does he have the natural size or strength to dominate NFL-level defenders as a blocker. He'll never create a Graham-like separation when running routes and most scouts look at O'Leary's physique and figure he's maxed it out.
"Golf would have been better on my body," O'Leary joked. "(But) I love football. I love contact."
And that love of the game has made O'Leary greater than the sum of his parts.
As a receiver, he very strong hands and great instincts, understanding space and how to sit down in zone coverage. As a blocker, O'Leary can run lead- isolation from the backfield or handle anything on the line thanks to solid technique, decent feet and a nasty disposition as well as the willingness to play to the whistle.
Perhaps most importantly, though, O'Leary is regarded as coachable and willing to do whatever it takes to help his team, attributes that are coveted by any coach on any level.
"I feel like I can do it all," he said. "People say my route running is not that good. I feel like it is. There are a lot of guys at Florida State who weren't able to cover me, and guys we played against. We'll see how it is."
To be fair to his detractors, there is a ceiling with O'Leary, and he will never be a superstar in the NFL due to his athletic limitations. Even at Florida State, where he was a legitimate star playing with a host of top-tier talent, including the likely No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft, quarterback Jameis Winston, O'Leary managed just six catches of over 25 yards during his time in Tallahassee.
"We had a great run and it was a lot of fun," O'Leary said of his time at FSU. "(Jimbo Fisher) is a great coach. He teaches everybody the little things that other coaches don't probably -- how to be good on and off the field."
And if that isn't enough and football doesn't work out, there's always that old Nicklaus fallback.
"We talk a lot," O'Leary said of his famous pop-pop. "It's all about carrying yourself. We talk more as grandfather to grandson. We did (play golf) every once in a while. When I play a lot, I shoot in the 70s."
The Sports Network's top 10 tight ends:
1. - Maxx Williams, Minnesota
2. - Clive Walford, Miami (Fla.)
3. - Nick O'Leary, Florida State
4. - Ben Koyack, Notre Dame
5. - Tyler Kroft, Rutgers
6. - Jeff Heuerman, Ohio State
7. - Jesse James, Penn State
8. - MyCole Pruitt, Southern Illinois
9. - Blake Bell, Oklahoma
10. - Nick Boyle, Delaware