As I am starting to wrap up the finishing touches on quite a few of these draft prospects, I’ve started to run each player through my own personal grading scale and rank my top 10 prospects. I will try to get two position groups out a week (one offensive, one defensive) leading up to the grand finale of the enormous wide receiver class. For this article, I want to focus on probably the most disappointing position in fantasy football last season, the tight end. This class is the perfect class to find a starter or contributor in.
I want to address the pro comps. Before the comments erupt on this, I want to say this: The pro comps are *NOT* a projection on his pro career or me saying who the player will turn out to be. These comps are based on play style and profile.
With the top two guys, T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant, both of Iowa, it was the very first time I have ever had two teammates *tie* for the #1 position on my grading scale. Both elite players that win in different ways in styles.
T-1. T.J. Hockenson, Iowa
What more do we need to say about Hockenson? He is an elite well-rounded playmaker at a position that had a clear down year this NFL season. His skill set as a receiver and an ability to pancake like IHOP makes Hock a favorite to be a top-tier starter very early.
Pro Comp: Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles
T-1. Noah Fant, Iowa
Hockenson’s teammate, Fant is the more diverse playmaker of the two. Fant’s calling card is ridiculous athletic ability and catch radius. His mismatch ability is the reason why I think Fant might be the first TE taken, as a team will love to use him as a weapon over the middle and in the red zone.
3. Irv Smith, Alabama
I feel like Irv is getting overlooked in this class, but make no mistake, Irv deserves a shot at TE1. He’s an elite route-runner and a dominant run blocker. He isn’t as athletic as Fant and he doesn’t offer great contested catch ability like Hockenson, but Irv offers a great well-rounded mismatch target who can be a clutch target for a quarterback.
Pro Comp: Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
4. Dawson Knox, Ole Miss
Knox won’t have any fans on the production side of Draft Twitter, but make no mistake, Knox is a great weapon who just never got much of a chance at Ole Miss. Knox is another dynamic athletic mismatch in this class. He isn’t much as a blocker yet and still needs to expand his route running ability, but make no mistake: Knox will have a better pro career than college one.
Pro Comp: Eric Ebron, Indianapolis Colts
5. Donald Parham, Stetson
A physically imposing monster, Parham makes the game look easy at the FCS level, completely dominating the opposing defense with his physicality and athletic ability. Measuring in at the Senior Bowl at a ridiculous 6’8″, 243 pounds, and featuring 10 ½ inch hands and a wingspan of 84 inches, Parham offers an incredible physical profile. He’s raw as a route-runner, but he completely dominated everyone on tape. His Combine testing will be key for his stock and he’ll need to test well to keep this ranking, but his tape shows a potential freak.
Pro Comp: Martellus Bennett
6. Jace Sternberger, Texas A&M
You know this class is stacked when a guy as athletic as Jace Sternberger is 6th on the list. Sternberger offers a mouth-watering blend of size and athletic ability to pair with his great hands. I want to see more of him as a blocker and a route-runner, but Sternberger has top potential in the pros.
Pro Comp: Vance McDonald, Pittsburgh Steelers
7. Dax Raymond, Utah State
Raymond is a mismatch weapon who is a surprisingly refined route-runner. Dax displayed consistent separation ability at Utah State and was a very effective chain mover. I do have concerns about using him full time as a TE1 but he can be an effective TE2 and red zone weapon.
Pro Comp: Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
8. Josh Oliver, San Jose State
Oliver is a raw athlete playing the position, but he offers a good profile and ball skills to develop into something down the stretch. Right now I would say he stays as a TE2 or even TE3, but he’s got serious TE1 upside down the road.
Pro Comp: Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams
9. Isaac Nauta, Georgia
Isaac Nauta is the epitome of rock solid and well-rounded but isn’t a standout elite player in any traits. He’s a dependable TE2 target for a team, but I don’t believe he will have TE1 upside at the next level
Pro Comp: Rhett Ellison, New York Giants
10. Kaden Smith, Stanford
Kaden Smith isn’t flashy, but like Nauta, he gets the job done. He’s got a great catch radius and is a force as a blocker, but he isn’t a super great mismatch weapon as an athlete or route-runner, as he doesn’t create any consistent separation. Kaden will likely be an effective red-zone weapon and TE2, but that is it.
Pro Comp: C.J. Fiedorowicz
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