Whole Nine Sports

Top 5 Tight Ends in the NFL Draft and Where They Should Go

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Who needs a TE? Well here are some teams: Lions, Falcons, Jags, Broncos, Steelers, Saints, and now the Pats after future HOFer Gronk has retired. The TE class this year is an interesting one, so here are my top five, and when each of those teams listed needs to draft one.

Here are my top 5 Offensive Lineman, with no order:

TJ Hockenson – TE (Iowa)

T.J. Hockenson is THE tight end of the draft. Not much can be said about weaknesses in traits for him, or any lack of ability with how much of an elite athlete he is.

His route running is great, big catch radius, and has a high motor during run block. I mean hell, he doesn’t quit on a play even after the whistle has blown! He wants to make sure to get the job done no matter the assignment.

In regards to his catching ability, he is as elite as they come. Ability to adjust his body on poorly thrown balls, wonderful at catching through traffic, and hands that refuse to let the ball hit the ground. He is ready for the NFL folks, and should be a day 1 starter.

Draft Prediction: Patriots trade up into the top 10 – Green Bay Packers – pick 12, or Atlanta Falcons – pick 14

Favorite Tape: 2018 Iowa v Wisconsin

Noah Fant – TE (Iowa)

Noah Fant, and his counterpart T.J. Hockenson were a dynamic duo at Iowa. Both are great at blocking, and have a great skill set for receiving. What I love about Noah though, is his ability to step up in the latter half of a game.

Against Penn State (2018) he showcased how great of a blocker he can be. Not a single of his blocks were shed, and neither allowed the defender he was pushing around to tackle the RB.

As for his receiving skills, they are great with some room to improve. Route running at times can be sloppy, but he will continue to grow. Once in the NFL I do expect him to be able to be a standout at TE1 for a team with a decent QB. If you watched any of Iowa’s games last year you will know that he did not have a decent, even average QB throwing to him (sorry Nate Stanley).

Draft Prediction: Denver Broncos – pick 10, or Pittsburgh Steelers – pick 20

Favorite Tape:  2018 Iowa v Penn State

Irv Smith Jr. – TE (Alabama)

Irv has decent explosion off the line, which helps with his run blocking abilities as well as beating defenders out of a route. He is able to create separation despite not being a speedster down the field.

If you are in need of a tight end that can turn a 3 yard catch into 15 with his YAC, then Irv is your guy. His vision helps him immediately be able to attempt to get out of a tackle, or make a move that gets him a few extra yards down the field.

I do see him as being a very dominant blocking tight end once he is in the NFL, but there is a very high ceiling in terms of growth to be a dominant receiving tight end. I would love to see more of his ability in high point, contested passes.

Draft Prediction: New England Patriots – pick 32, Jacksonville Jaguars – pick 38, or Detroit Lions – pick 43

Favorite Tape: 2018 Alabama v Clemson

Josh Oliver – TE (San Jose State)

Josh Oliver has more receptions (56) in 2018, then he had attempts thrown his way in all of 2017 (54). Josh is more of a receiving tight end in every aspect, which means, he needs to work on his run blocking. Badly. Doesn’t have a strong anchor when setting a block, or footwork that can keep up with the defender.

Although his blocking needs work, his receiving was outstanding in his 2018 season. He had 709 yards receiving with 4 touchdowns. The previous year? He only had 296 yards receiving. He showed great improvement from the previous year in his route running and aggressiveness after the catch.

He does seem coachable and with the right schemes can be a proven tight end in the NFL.

Draft Prediction: Denver Broncos – pick 125, Atlanta Falcons – pick 137, or Pittsburgh Steelers – pick 141Favorite Tape: 2018 San Jose State v Utah State (best available)

Dax Raymond – TE (Utah State)

Although there is a question mark for Dax after breaking his hand, he does have the skill set to be a good receiving tight end. May not be a TE1 for a team, but a definite TE2 entering the NFL.

Functional route running, stronger on options or screen plays in blocking, and decent on YAC.

Could work on his run block, especially when attempting to lead up the middle. Sometimes over commits on a defender, which leads to him missing a block, or failing to move his feet to keep with a defender. While there are a few things for Dax to work on, he is still a decent TE coming into this draft.

He will be older (24) once starting his rookie season which helps bring a more mature attitude to a team, but could be a concern in terms of being able to develop into what a team wants him to be at an older age.

Draft Prediction: New England Patriots – pick 56, New Orleans Saints – pick 62, or Atlanta Falcons – pick 79

Favorite Tape: 2018 Utah State v Michigan State