With the NFL draft drawing even closer now and the scouting combine underway in Indy, time for us to turn our attention to another set of draft prospects and like some other classes, the tight end class is loaded this year with athletic pass catchers and run blockers. Today we are looking at the tight end role and some of the top in the class this year.
1 O.J. Howard | Alabama | 6′ 6″ , 249 lbs.
Howard is a matchup nightmare with his combination of size and athleticism. He was used heavily as a blocker by Alabama’s run heavy offense. As a result, he hasn’t put up big numbers at Alabama but scouts are still very intrigued with what he may be able to do. He has been described by scouts as being athletic like Jimmy Graham and is projected right now to be a top fifteen pick in the draft.
2 Jake Butt | Michigan | 6′ 6″ , 250 lbs.
Butt suffered a torn ACL a few weeks ago at the Orange Bowl but despite this he is still one of the most complete tight ends in the draft class this year. He is a solid blocker and scouts have been raving about his ability to work downfield. Howard is arguably better going downfield however Butt is not far behind him and is just as reliable. Unfortunately for Butt his availability for his rookie season is in question but he is solid in the position and could be picked up as a work in progress towards next season.
3 David Njoku | Miami | 6′ 4″ , 245 lbs.
Not as complete a player as the two ahead of him but he is arguably better than both as a pass catcher. Incredibly athletic and can stretch the field. He is expected to run a 4.6 or better at the combine and last season he caught 43 passes for 698 yards and 8 touchdowns. His blocking skills leave a bit to be desired and he is far from the best but scouts have described him as “willing” when it comes to the block and that is always a good thing. He has only been playing tight end for two years after he was previously tried at wide receiver and linebacker. Another mismatch headache for opposition teams.
4 Bucky Hodges | Virginia Tech | 6′ 7″ , 245 lbs.
One of the tallest tight ends in the draft and a massive receiving threat that will present mismatch headaches for oppositions next season. Has also been described as similar to Jimmy Graham and will be a big threat in the red zone. Another player who transitioned and has only been playing tight end for a few years when he transitioned from quarterback. But even at that, he is described now as a wide receiver trapped in a tight ends body. He is a fast tight end and tracks the ball well in the air.
5 Jordan Leggett | Clemson | 6′ 5″ , 260 lbs.
Leggett was a big part of the passing attack at Clemson with a big frame and athletic ability which helped him make big plays regularly. He isn’t a fantastic blocker and is considered more a dynamic weapon after the catch where he averaged 16.8 yards in 2016. However he has referred to himself as lazy in the past and he seems to sometimes only bring passion to the big games. He has elite stats for the position but his effort and commitment will be questioned and he will need to show scouts he can give more consistently.