April 26, 2017

2017 Tight End Prospects

#88 O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama

QB / RB / WR / TE / OT / IOL / EDGE / DL / LB / CB / S

Another very strong positional group from top to bottom. This tight end class should produce plenty of starters. While not necessarily considered a premium position, O.J. Howard and David Njoku will be first round choices, while Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram will also be in the mix.

Prospect rankings are based on film breakdown provided by Draft Breakdown with a minimum of 3 games watched per prospect in most cases. Measurables, athletic testing, future roles and projections are also taken into effect.
Injuries, off the field issues, etc. will mot be taken into consideration. These rankings are based on talent and projections on the field. Players are grouped into "tiers" to separate them. Players that I project as early round picks will be placed in the "All-Pro"/"Pro Bowl" tiers for example. Prospects that I saw limited film of or was unable to watch at all will not be ranked, but listed under "Other Notable Prospects". Specifically, prospects well known in the scouting community and draft sites like CBS Sports and Pro Football Focus will be listed here.

Tier One: All-Pro Prospects

1. O.J. Howard
Experience: Senior | School: Alabama
Height: 6-6 | Weight: 251 lbs.
Hand Size: 10" | Arm Length: 33 3/4" | Grade: Top 15

40 Time: 4.51 | Bench: 22 | Vertical: 30" | Broad: 121"
3 Cone: 6.85 | 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.16 | 60-Yard Shuttle: 11.46

Analysis: Howard has all of the tools to be an all-pro tight end. Prototypical size and length, excellent speed and athleticism for an NFL tight end. True inline TE who was able to show his versatility at 'Bama, lining up in the slot, outside, and even in the backfield as an "H-Back". Dynamic. Can go over the middle. Has reliable hands and can make things happen after the catch. Very effective inline blocker and can get to the second level easily. Also effective blocking out on the perimeter. Highly coveted prospect who looks like a top 10 lock.

Tier Two: Pro Bowl Prospects

2. David Njoku**
Experience: Sophomore (RS) | School: Miami
Height: 6-4 | Weight: 244 lbs.
Hand Size: 10" | Arm Length: 35 1/4" | Grade: Round 1

40 Time: 4.64 | Bench: 21 | Vertical: 37.5" | Broad: 133"
3 Cone: 6.97 | 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.34 | 60-Yard Shuttle: N/A

Analysis: Freakish athlete at the tight end position. Fits the mold of what a lot of NFL teams are looking for. Dynamic tight end who can consistently create separation with his speed, and can box out defenders with his frame to make contested catches. Really looks comfortable working from the slot, more so than when playing inline, though he is still very effective here as well. Much better run blocker than I expected, though should work on sustaining blocks a little longer. Can seal and get to the second level with relative ease. Needs to eliminate the concentration drops. Not the most polished, but the tools and upside are there, and he's already a really good player.

3. Gerald Everett
Experience: Senior | School: South Alabama
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 241 lbs.
Hand Size: 8 1/2" | Arm Length: 33" | Grade: Round 2

40 Time: 4.62 | Bench: 22 | Vertical: 37.5" | Broad: 126"
3 Cone: 6.99 | 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.33 | 60-Yard Shuttle: N/A

Analysis: Another ridiculous athlete for the tight end position. Smaller tight end who shows some of the strength necessary to play in line, but is a hybrid tight end/receiver. Weapon. True redzone threat. Makes tough, contested catches. Attacks the ball away from his body. Arguably the best tight end in space/after the catch in this draft class. Very elusive for a tight end, and breaks a good amount of tackles. Not a sharp route runner. Will need some work. Shows willingness as a blocker, but is not very effective at this stage. Is an effective cut blocker though. Has moved up into day 2 consideration.

4. Evan Engram
Experience: Senior | School: Ole Miss
Height: 6-4 | Weight: 235 lbs.
Hand Size: 10" | Arm Length: 33 1/2" | Grade: Round 2

40 Time: 4.42 | Bench: 19 | Vertical: 36" | Broad: 125"
3 Cone: 6.92 | 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.23 | 60-Yard Shuttle: N/A

Analysis: Engram has an intriguing skill set. He doesn't have ideal measurables for an NFL tight end, and does not project as an in line tight end. He projects as more of a dynamic "move" tight end who can be very effective working from the slot and complimenting another established Tight End. He's not an effective run blocker and probably never will be, and he struggles with drops and making contested catches. Can be a lazy route runner at times as well. Can be a real weapon for an NFL team as a mismatch. Will be bigger than most safeties and much faster than most linebackers. Excellent speed and athleticism should allow him to be a deep threat.

Tier Three: Future Starter Prospects

5. George Kittle
Experience: Senior (RS) | School: Iowa
Height: 6-4 | Weight: 251 lbs.
Hand Size: 9 1/4" | Arm Length: 33 1/8" | Grade: Round 3

40 Time: 4.52 | Bench: 18 | Vertical: 38.5" | Broad: 132"
3 Cone: 6.78 | 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.55 | 60-Yard Shuttle: N/A

Analysis: What he lacks in quickness and burst, he makes up for with straight-line speed and freakish athleticism. Kittle is arguably the best run and pass blocking tight end in this class. He could be considered a bit raw as a receiver, but he knows how to get himself open, has reliable hands, and has the ability to gain extra yards after the catch. He has a prototypical frame for an inline tight end, but could also be used as a move tight end. That kind of versatility helps his draft stock.

6. Jake Butt
Experience: Senior | School: Michigan
Height: 6-6 | Weight: 251 lbs.
Hand Size: 10" | Arm Length: 32" | Grade: Round 3

40 Time: N/A | Bench: N/A | Vertical: N/A | Broad: N/A
3 Cone: N/A | 20-Yard Shuttle: N/A | 60-Yard Shuttle: N/A

Analysis: Damn good football player. Smooth tight end. Can get in and out of his breaks. Will work back to the quarterback. Great awareness. Knows where the first down marker is seemingly all the time. Strong hands. Will thrive in contested situations. Not an elite athlete, but above average. Will make his money as an inline player who will be a red zone target and possession receiver. Foundation is there to be a really good blocker, just needs to play a little stronger and lower his pad level. Will likely fall to the third day after tearing his ACL in Michigan's bowl game.

7. Jordan Leggett
Experience: Senior | School: Clemson
Height: 6-6 | Weight: 260 lbs.
Hand Size: 10 3/8" | Arm Length: 33 1/2" | Grade: Round 3

40 Time: 4.75 | Bench: 18 | Vertical: 33" | Broad: 119"
3 Cone: 7.12 | 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.33 | 60-Yard Shuttle: 12.06

Analysis: While not quite as athletic as some of his counterparts, Leggett finds ways to get him self open. He has ideal measurables for the tight end position, and strong, reliable hands to match. Has just as much versatility as some of the other players in this group. Needs to show more consistent effort and aggression to reach his full potential.

Tier Four: Developmental Starter Prospects

8. Bucky Hodges*
Experience: Junior (RS) | School: Virginia Tech
Height: 6-6 | Weight: 248 lbs.
Hand Size: 10 1/8" | Arm Length: 32 1/2" | Grade: Round 5

40 Time: 4.57 | Bench: 18 | Vertical: 39" | Broad: 134"
3 Cone: N/A | 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.45 | 60-Yard Shuttle: 12.08

Analysis: Raw prospect who will need time to develop. The payoff could be huge, but he will likely be viewed as a risk/reward prospect. Great build and athleticism for the tight end position. Can get himself open, but has inconsistent hands and doesn't consistently make contested catches. Shows a lot of promise as a run blocker. Tons of upside, just needs time to learn the position.

9. Adam Shaheen*
Experience: Junior (RS) | School: Ashland
Height: 6-7 | Weight: 278 lbs.
Hand Size: 9 5/8" | Arm Length: 33 1/2" | Grade: Round 5

40 Time: 4.79 | Bench: 24 | Vertical: 32.5" | Broad: 121"
3 Cone: 7.09 | 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.38 | 60-Yard Shuttle: 12.38

Analysis: Shaheen is raw, but he has a ton of upside. 6-6 1/2, 278 lbs. Big bodied tight end who is a very good athlete for his size. Raw as a blocker and route runner. Better blocker than I expected, but needs to improve his technique and play strength. Can find soft spots in the defense and use his frame to box out defenders and make the catch. Will be too big for defensive backs and too quick for most linebackers. Level of competition is a big question mark.

Tier Five: Quality Backup Prospects

10. Jeremy Sprinkle
Experience: Senior (RS) | School: Arkansas
Height: 6-5 | Weight: 253 lbs.
Hand Size: 10 3/4" | Arm Length: 34 1/2" | Grade: Round 5

40 Time: 4.60 | Bench: 15 | Vertical: 30.5" | Broad: 116"
3 Cone: 7.09 | 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.53 | 60-Yard Shuttle: N/A

Analysis: Big-bodied tight end who could become a security blanket. Wouldn't call him a dominant run blocker, but Sprinkle holds his blocks in the running game consistently. His hand placement could be a little more consistent, but his overall technique is solid. Needs to get a body on someone once he reaches the second level. Decent route runner at best, but won't consistently separate. After the catch ability is limited by lack of athleticism.

11. Cole Hikutini
Experience: Senior | School: Louisville
Height: 6-5 | Weight: 245 lbs.
Hand Size: 10" | Arm Length: 32 3/4" | Grade: Round 6

40 Time: 4.85 | Bench: 20 | Vertical: 34.5" | Broad: 120"
3 Cone: 7.22 | 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.57 | 60-Yard Shuttle: N/A

Analysis: Move tight end. Does not offer much as a blocker at this stage, but his sudden movements as a route runner allow him to create separation and he has the reliable hands to be an impact player in the passing game. Decent after the catch, but doesn't have great explosiveness or tackle breaking ability. Love how he attacks the ball away from his body and shows great awareness as a receiver.

Other Notable Prospects

Pharaoh Brown
Experience: Senior (RS) | School: Oregon
Height: 6-6 | Weight: 246 lbs.
Hand Size: 10 3/8" | Arm Length: 35 5/8" | Grade: N/A

40 Time: 4.82 | Bench: 24 | Vertical: 34" | Broad: 103"
3 Cone: 7.24 | 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.46 | 60-Yard Shuttle: N/A

Analysis: Freakish leg injury a few years back stunted his development. The talent is still there. While unlikely to be drafted, he could be a priority free agent who turns out to be a steal.

Michael Roberts
Experience: Senior | School: Toledo
Height: 6-4 | Weight: 274 lbs.
Hand Size: 11 1/2" | Arm Length: 33" | Grade: N/A

40 Time: 4.86 | Bench: 21 | Vertical: 30" | Broad: 110"
3 Cone: 7.05 | 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.22 | 60-Yard Shuttle: N/A

Eric Saubert
Experience: Senior (RS) | School: Drake
Height: 6-5 | Weight: 249 lbs.
Hand Size: 10 3/8" | Arm Length: 33 1/2" | Grade: N/A

40 Time: 4.68 | Bench: 22 | Vertical: 35.5" | Broad: 121"
3 Cone: 7.34 | 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.59 | 60-Yard Shuttle: N/A

Jonnu Smith
Experience: Senior (RS) | School: Florida International
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 246 lbs.
Hand Size: 9 1/4" | Arm Length: 32 7/8" | Grade: N/A

40 Time: 4.62 | Bench: 22 | Vertical: 38" | Broad: 127"
3 Cone: 4.18 | 20-Yard Shuttle: 11.57 | 60-Yard Shuttle: N/A

Ricky Seals-Jones*
Experience: Junior (RS) | School: Texas A&M
Height: 6-5 | Weight: 246 lbs.
Hand Size: 9 5/8" | Arm Length: 33 1/8" | Grade: N/A

40 Time: 4.69 | Bench: 17 | Vertical: 31" | Broad: 121"
3 Cone: 7.46 | 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.33 | 60-Yard Shuttle: 11.85

Analysis: Wide receiver at Texas A&M who will have to move to tight end in the NFL. Has always had the talent. Just didn't put it together.