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Paul To Follow In Shannon Sharpe's Footsteps

Posted May 16, 2012

Comparing a second-year receiver to a Hall of Fame tight end is risky, but head coach Mike Shanahan likes the resemblance.

In his rookie training camp, Niles Paul was trying to learn the playbook while competing for a crowded receiver roster spot.

Going into his second season, Paul has mastered the playbook, but will be competing for a spot with the tight ends.

Paul made the position switch this offseason after impressing coaches with his receiving skills and physicality at the line of scrimmage.

“He is in the tight end group now,” head coach Mike Shanahan told ESPN 980.  “He’s a 4.5 guy in the 40, he has excellent hands, and he gives you a chance to have a difference-maker at the tight end position.”

In order to make the transition, coaches asked Paul to add about 15 pounds of muscle this offseason.  

At 6-2, 235 pounds, Paul now fits the exact dimensions of another famous receiver-turned-tight-end, whose bronze bust resides in Canton.

"I hate to compare anyone to a Hall of Fame player, but Shannon Sharpe came into Denver exactly the same height and about five pounds less than Paul weighs," Shanahan said.  "He was a receiver out of Savannah State, and we moved him over to the tight end positon."

Under Shanahan, Sharpe blossomed from a seventh-round pick with 99 yards in his rookie campaign, into a tight end with three Super Bowl rings and a trio of NFL records when he retired.

Like Sharpe, Paul was held under 100 yards in his freshman campaign, and will be given a chance to carve a niche for himself at tight end.

He already has the faith of his head coach, who envisions a playmaker on offense and special teams.

“He’s extremely physical, which people saw last year on special teams,” Shanahan said.  “Niles has the mindset to be an excellent player.  I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t make the transition very easily."

Paul was receptive to the change, and is just looking forward to more playing time in 2012.

“I’ve always been a guy who, wherever they put me, I’m going to play as hard as I can to the best of my ability," he said.  "I feel there’s a lot of room for me to grow, and there’s some potential I have yet to show."

Paul will get his first full-team opportunity at tight end in OTA's next week.