Whole Nine Sports

2020 NFL Combine Preview: TE

Brycen Hopkins Combine
Brandon Olsen
Follow him on Twitter @WNS_Brandon
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Combine week is finally here and tomorrow night is the start of testing. Tight ends are one of the first positions to test as they’ll be in the Thursday evening group with quarterbacks and wide receivers. From 4-11 PM EST they’ll be on the field in Indy in front of front office personnel, media, and the entire nation. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this years tight end class, allow me to introduce you to some players I think are worth noting here:

Harrison Bryant, Florida Atlantic

Harrison Bryant

In 2019, Harrison Bryant became the first ever Group of Five player to win the John Mackey award, given to the top tight end in the nation every year. With one of the most balanced skillsets in this year’s class, Harrison Bryant could improve his stock significantly if he shows out in Indy. With more effort than technique as a blocker, Bryant still has some things to work on but he offers a ton of upside a starting tight end at the next level.

Hunter Bryant, Washington

Hunter Bryant Combine

As new-school as you could get at the tight end position, Hunter Bryant (no relation to Harrison), offers a ton of receiving ability but leaves a lot to be desired as a blocker. Bryant could be comparable to a less athletic Evan Engram who would likely benefit from playing more of a big slot role as opposed to in-line.

Josiah Deguara, Cincinnati

Josiah Deguara Combine
Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

One of the top blockers in the class, Deguara reminds me of a more athletic Rhett Ellison. He isn’t going to wow anybody with his athleticism but his blocking ability along with his sure hands makes me confident that he’ll at the very least be a reliable role player in the NFL. He’s also versatile enough to move around the formation, as we saw him work out at fullback in Mobile for the Senior Bowl and could find himself in a fullback/H-back role in the NFL.

Brycen Hopkins, Purdue

Brycen Hopkins

Going into this season, Brycen Hopkins was thought of as the consensus TE1. Throughout the season the feelings alternated positively and negatively, but the positives remained the same; Brycen Hopkins is a legitimate vertical threat at tight end. Hopkins is someone who’s expected to dominate some of the drills at the Combine and improve his stock.

Cole Kmet, Notre Dame

Cole Kmet Combine
Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

A little bit of a surprise early entry, Cole Kmet got immediate TE1 hype when he declared for the Draft. Kmet is a project still, there’s no doubt about that in my opinion. He’s young and athletic enough to operate, but he’s still raw albeit with a high ceiling. Kmet might be the first tight end off the board, but I’d hope he winds up with a team that knows how to develop tight ends.

Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri

Albert Okwuegbunam Combine

Another very athletic option from the tight end spot, Okwuegbunam is another player who at the beginning of the season was thought of as an early round tight end. Unfortunately, Okwuegbunam hasn’t developed as much as most anticipated at the start of the season. Albert O is still a raw tight end that offers plenty of speed and vertical ability, but he has limited blocking ability and his route-running leaves a lot to be desired.

Jared Pinkney, Vanderbilt

Jared Pinkney
(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

We got to see Jared Pinkney down in Mobile for the Senior Bowl and he impressed more than I expected. Capable of working over the middle of the field with the willingness to block, Pinkney looks to be more of an h-back or maybe even the occasional big slot.

Stephen Sullivan, LSU

Stephen Sullivan
Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Sullivan can make a claim to be the most athletic tight end in this year’s class, seeing that he was a wide receiver before this past season. He didn’t produce much this past season behind Biletnikoff Award winner Ja’Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson, Terrace Marshall, and Thaddeus Moss, but Sullivan should be a weapon in the right offense. To play him in-line would likely be the worst way to use Sullivan, but throwing him in the big slot or moving him around the formation could make him a red zone machine.

Adam Trautman, Dayton

Adam Trautman Combine
Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Trautman is someone that 3 months ago was completely off of every radar in the NFL Draft community. When he was issued a Senior Bowl invite, people started watching and recognizing that Trautman could be a legitimate baller at the next level. Trautman has solid speed, willingness to block, and might have been chiseled from stone. With all of the tools to be successful paired with NFL coaching, Trautman has the potential to develop into a productive starting tight end at the next level.