Michael Egnew celebrates with teammate Jerrell Jackson in a 2010 against K-State. UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Missouri senior Michael Egnew is one of just two tight ends on the North’s roster for Saturday’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. He’ll get a lot of playing time, but word around the Senior Bowl practices is Egnew is projected as nothing more than a late round pick at best.

Part of the problem could be the lack of NFL success from former Mizzou tight ends. However, the NFL game is evolving where the tight end position is becoming a mix of good pass catchers and run blockers.

When you look at the success that tight ends Martin Rucker and Chase Coffman had at Mizzou, it hasn’t translated over to the NFL. Rucker and Coffman were great pass catchers, but in the Tigers spread offense, they weren’t asked to pass block as much. That reputation of past Mizzou tight ends could be a huge strike against Egnew who was good, but in his time at Missouri, his offensive skills didn’t jump out as much as the other two.

However, while Egnew may not have been as flashy, he has worked on being a better, well rounded tight end and admitted this week in Mobile, that he’s trying to fashion himself after New England tight end Ron Gronkowski.

When you look at “Gronk” as well as guys like New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham and San Francisco’s Vernon Davis, the value of a tight end that can block, run and catch has never been more important. Never have there been more players capable of doing all of those things. Perhaps, that’s where Egnew is different from Rucker and Coffman.

Egnew caught 140 passes for 1,285 yard and eight touchdowns in his junior and senior years. While his catches dropped from 90 to 50 from his junior to senior year, Egnew worked on growing other parts of his game, including his blocking.

That will be Egnew’s goal on Saturday, make the most of the opportunities when the ball is thrown his way, but he must also show scouts that he can block.