INDIANAPOLIS — There are plenty of tight ends that Trey McBride could have picked as a hero and influence.
Jason Witten. Antonio Gates. Travis Kelce. Rob Gronkowski.
So who was McBride’s childhood hero?
“Joel Dreessen, a guy from my hometown, he played eight or nine years in the league, he’s a guy I really looked up to my whole life,’’ the 6-foot-4, 260-pound McBride said Wednesday at his NFL Combine press conference.
Small town Colorado kids stick together. Especially kids from Fort Morgan, which boasts an inordinate active pipeline to the NFL. Dreessen played eight years in the NFL, including two with the Broncos. In 2012, he caught a career-most 41 passes from Peyton Manning with 5 touchdowns.
Ryan Jensen, an eight-year center, Super Bowl champion and Pro Bowler who snapped to Tom Brady for two years is from Fort Morgan.
“Just a blue-collar place where a lot guys just … you put your head down and work hard and good things will happen,’’ McBride said. “I’ve had a lot of guys I can lean on for advice so very thankful they came before me.’’
Like Dreessen, McBride played his college ball at Colorado State. While Dreessen had a good enough career to become a sixth-round draft pick of the New York Jets in 2005, McBride had a far more accomplished four years. A unanimous first-team All American this past season. The John Mackey Award winner as the top college tight end in the country after McBride recorded an astounding 90 catches for 1,121 yards.
He’s got a chance to be the first tight end selected in the draft, although McBride will have competition from Coastal Carolina’s Isaiah Likely, Ohio State’s Jeremy Ruckert and Texas A&M’s Jalen Wydermeyer.
“It’s a dream come true, really,’’ McBride said. “It’s something you dream of your whole life and to be the first guy taken would be an unbelievable honor and something I’m continually working at to try and achieve that goal.”
McBride is represented by agent CJ Laboy, who did a good job of getting his latest client rehearsed for his Combine interviews. In recent years, the draft-eligible prospects have been taught to express confidence.
“I think I’m a playmaker, a winner and a guy that can catch the ball,’’ McBride said. “Very tough strong hands, and physical and gritty in the run game as well.”
He doesn’t figure to be on the Broncos’ radar as they already have two receiver-strong tight ends in Noah Fant and Albert Okwuegbunam. Besides, the Broncos have several other positions of greater need.
Among McBride’s most impressive characteristics is he’s coachable. The CSU Rams were a mess last year under since-fired head coach Steve Addazio, yet McBride kept the focus and had a spectacular senior season.
“Just trusting the coaches believing in what they’re doing, but most of all really thanking the coaches for believing in me and giving me an opportunity to put me in successful positions,’’ McBride said. “I was just trying to bring the guys together and work together as a team, because ultimately I can’t do what I do without my teammates.”
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