For teams looking for the next Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham, I think they may still be looking after the 2013 NFL Draft.
Not that there isn’t talent available but I’m not sold on any of these TE prospects as the next big thing. The ever evolving NFL game is trending towards more athletic TE’s that can flex out and block in-line well enough on run downs.
The senior class will be headlined by Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert. Eifert is a well rounded prospect that has shown improvements as a blocker, he may wind up in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Outside of Eifert the senior class is very average. Some nice blockers and a couple of interesting projects but nothing that stands out.
The junior class is led by a Stanford duo. Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo brings nice size to the position but could be one dimensional.
Here’s a look at the tight end class for the 2013 NFL Draft.
1. Tyler Eifert I Notre Dame I 6’6” I 251
Eifert is hampered by the inconsistent QB play at Notre Dame. He’s a big target with excellent hands but lacks the speed to stretch the field, ala Jimmy Graham. He has really improved as a blocker, making him a guy that could be a weapon in the pass game and run game.
DRAFT PROJECTION: 1-2
2. Ryan Otten I San Jose State I 6’6″ I 245
Otten is a pure pass catcher with excellent length and athleticism. He had a monster senior season and emerged as David Fales top target. Teams in need of a pass catching TE would be wise to look at Otten early in the draft. Otten needs to improve as a blocker but has the frame to fill out and become a serviceable blocker.
DRAFT PROJECTION: 3
3. Travis Kelce I Cincinnati I 6’5 I 260
Kelce has ideal size and the skills to become a starter at the next level. He moves better than expected for a big tight end and has the consistent hands. He’s an underrated prospect that will rise during the pre-draft process.
4. Mychal Rivera I Tennessee I 6’3″ I 244
Rivera brings a unique skill set to the position. He’s undersized for an in-line blocker. That said, he’s a physical guy that isn’t afraid to stick his nose in and will surprise many with this strength as a blocker. Probably best suited as a flex/joker TE but wouldn’t put it past him to play in-line. He’s an excellent pass catcher that is just coming into his own. A ton of upside with Rivera and could wind up being a steal if he makes it into day three.
DRAFT PROJECTION: 3-4
5. Chris Gragg I Arkansas I 6’3” I 236
Gragg excels as a pass catcher but lacks the size and strength to block in line in the NFL. The former wide receiver could get some looks as an H-back/Flex TE by NFL teams in the fourth round of April’s draft. He has posted solid numbers this season despite the inconsistencies of Arkansas.
DRAFT PROJECTION: 4
6. Jack Doyle I Western Kentucky I 6’5″ I 253 I DRAFT PROJECTION: 4-5
7. Vance McDonald I Rice I 6’4″ I 260 I DRAFT PROJECTION: 4-5
8. Zach Sudfeld I Nevada I 6’6″ I 255 I DRAFT PROJECTION: 5
9. Joseph Fauria I UCLA I 6’7” I 258 I DRAFT PROJECTION: 4
10. Phillip Lutzenkirchen I Auburn I 6’5” I 250 I DRAFT PROJECTION: 6
11. Michael Williams I Alabama I 6’6” I 270 I DRAFT PROJECTION: 5-6
12. Brandon Ford I Clemson I 6”4” I 235 I DRAFT PROJECTION: 6-7
13. Jake Stoneburner I Ohio State I 6’5” I 245 I DRAFT PROJECTION: 5
14. Kyle Juszczyk I Harvard I 6’3” I 245 I DRAFT PROJECTION: 5-6
15. Ben Cotton I Nebraska I 6’6” I 255 I DRAFT PROJECTION: 5
1. Zach Ertz I Stanford I 6’6” I 249
Ertz has flourished as Stanford’s lead TE with Coby Fleener heading to the NFL. He’s a big target that has improved as a blocker this season. Ertz’s leaping ability combined with size makes him a major redzone threat. If he declares early he could be a name you hear called early on day two.
2. Gavin Escobar I San Diego State I 6’6″ I 255
3. Jordan Reed I Florida I 6’3” I 243
4. Levine Toilolo I Stanford I 6’7” I 263
5. Dion Sims I Michigan State I 6’5” I 281
6. Chase Clement I LSU I 6’5” I 251