B/R NFL Draft 400: Top Tight Ends

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterApril 17, 2015

B/R NFL Draft 400: Top Tight Ends

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    B/R

    Each spring, 256 players are drafted into the NFL, with roughly another 100 added as undrafted free agents. With close to 350 players joining the pros each year, it's tough to keep track of them.

    Everyone knows who Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota and Amari Cooper are. But what about the rest of the class? At Bleacher Report, our aim is to thoroughly cover the draft unlike any other outlet, so we're not stopping with coverage of the top 32 picks or even the top 200 picks. We're covering the top 400 draft-eligible players, with a full scouting report on each one. 

    The top 400 players have been tracked, scouted, graded and ranked by myself and my scouting assistants, Marshal Miller and Dan Bazal. Together, we have viewed a minimum of three games per player (the same standard NFL teams use), and oftentimes we've seen every play from a player over the last two years. That's led to the grades, rankings and scouting reports you see here.

    Players are graded on strengths and weaknesses, with a pro-player comparison added that matches the player's style or fit in the pros. Position by position, the top 400 players are broken down for easy viewing before the final release of a top-400 big board prior to the draft.

    In the case of a tie, players were ranked based on their overall grade.

The Grading Scale

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    At the end of each scouting report, you'll see a Final Grade that falls somewhere between 9.00 and 4.00 on a unique grading scale. This scale is derived from the firsthand teachings of Charley Casserly, Michael Lombardi and other former and current front-office personnel in the NFL. I've tweaked it this year to be more transparent, and each player receives a number grade in addition to his ranking as a result.

    This applies to all positions.

     

    Matt Miller Draft Grading Scale
    GradeLabel
    9.00Elite, No. 1 pick
    8.00-8.99 All-Pro Potential 
    7.50-7.99Pro Bowl Potential 
    7.00-7.49Top-15 Player Potential 
    6.50-6.99Rookie Impact/Future Starter 
    6.00-6.49Rookie Impact/Future Starter
    5.50-5.99Future Starter
    5.10-5.49Quality Backup
    5.01-5.09Backup Caliber
    5.00Draftable Player Cutoff
    4.75-4.99Priority Free Agent
    4.50-4.74Camp Player
    4.00-4.49Not NFL Caliber

25. Eric Tomlinson, Texas-El Paso

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press
    HeightWeightArm Length40 TimeBench Press
     6'6" 263 lbs 32 " 4.98 s 19 reps

    STRENGTHS

    Eric Tomlinson looks like he belongs to the Duck Dynasty family, but he’s a talented tight end. A classic in-line tight end with throwback skills as a blocker, Tomlinson can be a factor in the run game off the edge. At 6’6” and 263 pounds, Tomlinson definitely looks the part and can hold his own when taking on a defender head-up. He uses a wide base and has the hand size (10”) and arm length (32 ⅞”) to lock out his man when engaged. Tomlinson could be an asset on every special-teams unit as a blocker.

     

    WEAKNESSES

    Tomlinson is a limited athlete with poor mobility for the passing game. He’s ideally a run-blocker only and has very limited experience as a receiver (59 catches in 45 games). He doesn’t show the quickness off the line to be able to get cleanly or quickly into his route and lacks the speed to get separation as a receiver. The lack of athleticism shows up at the second level when Tomlinson is asked to reach linebackers. He’s really at his best blocking down on defensive ends.

     

    2014 STATISTICS

    Receptions        Receiving Yards       Touchdowns
     19 134 1


    FINAL GRADE: 4.90/9.00 (Priority Free Agent)

24. Khari Lee, Bowie State

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press
    HeightWeightArm Length40 TimeBench Press
     6'4" 235 lbs - - -

    STRENGTHS

    A small-school stud, Khari Lee had 24 NFL teams at the Bowie State pro day. Lee stood out at the Shrine Game practices and impressed with speed, agility and natural hands. Lee has quick hands, innate instincts to feel the defensive presence and the body to post up or outjump defenders for the ball. He’s a solid athlete with the versatility to play in-line, in motion, at H-back or even with his hand in the dirt at fullback. Lee has to become more refined as a blocker, but the potential and willingness are there for him to improve quickly. He has immediate upside on special teams.

     

    WEAKNESSES 

    Playing at Bowie State allowed Lee to dominate players who won’t even see NFL training camps. He has not seen linebackers who run in the 4.5-second range, and his ability to separate against that level of athlete will rely on routes and timing that he’s yet to develop. He’s not a threat with the ball in his hands post-catch, and he won’t get great separation at the top of his routes. Based on Shrine Game film—the best competition he’s faced—Lee can be rubbed off his routes by physical defenders.

     

    2014 STATISTICS

    Receptions        Receiving Yards       Touchdowns
     34 389 1


    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Backup)

23. Casey Pierce, Kent State

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press
    HeightWeightArm Length40 TimeBench Press
     6'4" 242 lbs - - -

    STRENGTHS

    An H-back-style tight end with good movement skills, Casey Pierce can help in the run game, passing game and special teams. A Senior Bowl invitee, Pierce showed good route-running potential and stood out as a blocker both in the run and passing games. He is feisty and works his tail off for positioning. Pierce showed soft hands when his chest was to the quarterback, and he does a good job of making himself a target on comebacks and crossing patterns.

     

    WEAKNESSES

    Pierce is an average-to-below-average athlete who will struggle to get vertical separation in the NFL. Pierce doesn’t impress as a deep route-runner and struggles to pull the ball in away from his frame. His catch radius is limited. He’s a tweener who doesn’t have the speed to play true tight end. With limited agility and speed, Pierce looks more like a No. 3 tight end with special-teams upside.

     

    2014 STATISTICS

    Receptions        Receiving Yards       Touchdowns
     60 641 6


    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Backup)

22. E.J. Bibbs, Iowa State

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    Orlin Wagner/Associated Press
    HeightWeightArm Length40 TimeBench Press
     6'2" 258 lbs 31 " - -

    STRENGTHS

    A productive, experienced tight end with in-line traits, E.J. Bibbs has value as a second tight end. He’s a smart, aware player in space and can sit down and make himself a target against zone coverage. Bibbs does a good job of coming out of his stance cleanly and has sharp, crisp cuts on his routes. He proved himself to be a solid red-zone threat despite not having great height (6’2”) and uses his big hands (10 ¼”) well to secure the ball away from his frame.

     

    WEAKNESSES

    Bibbs is a limited athlete who lacks the burst or long speed to attack the defense. A knee injury affected him all season, but his 2013 tape still showed that lack of athleticism. Bibbs isn’t a good enough blocker to be a two-down tight end, either. He has a narrow base and short arms (31 ⅛”) that put him at a disadvantage when head-up on a defender.

     

    2014 STATISTICS

    Receptions        Receiving Yards       Touchdowns
    45 382 8


    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Backup)

21. Jean Sifrin, UMass

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    Elise Amendola/Associated Press
    HeightWeightArm Length40 TimeBench Press
     6'5" 245 lbs 33 " 4.84 s -

    STRENGTHS

    A first-team All-MAC player in his one year at UMass, Jean Sifrin has natural hands and athleticism. He fits the mold of the “basketball” tight end and has the length and height to threaten defenses vertically. He has a huge catch radius with soft hands and swagger when the ball is in the air. He owns the football when it’s within his reach and makes amazing catches over the top. He’s quicker than he is fast and has buildup speed to get vertical and separate against MAC defenses. He plays faster than he’s timed.

     

    WEAKNESSES

    Sifrin has had a long road to this point. He’s 27 years old and left UMass a year early for the draft after dropping out of high school and earning his GED while working to support his girlfriend and their son. He was discovered playing flag football at ASA College and lined up for its football and basketball teams thereafter. He was then dismissed from school for undisclosed reasons, enrolled at El Camino Junior College and found his way to UMass for one year.

    On the field, he’s predictably raw and already hitting his athletic peak at 27 years old. His football IQ is low, and he’s been allowed to win with athleticism instead of precise route-running or reading of the defense. He will not give you upside as a blocker, and his 245-pound frame is maxed out, which means he won't add much more weight or power. With poor timed speed, there are concerns about his ability to separate from defenders. He could develop into something special as a move tight end, but how long will it take before he can acclimate to NFL-style routes and defenses?

     

    2014 STATISTICS

    Receptions        Receiving Yards       Touchdowns
     42 642 6


    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Backup)

20. Gerald Christian, Louisville

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    Jim Rogash/Getty Images
    HeightWeightArm Length40 TimeBench Press
     6'3" 244 lbs 32 ½" 4.87 s 28 reps

    STRENGTHS

    A productive, experienced tight end with a wide-receiver build, Gerald Christian has the hands to make plays. He comes off the ball cleanly and is a solid route-runner with good balance and body control to get out of his break. He’s a concentrated, consistent pass-catcher with big hands (10 ¾”) and the confidence to make plays away from his body. He adjusts to poorly thrown passes and tracks the ball well over his head. Christian is a smart, aware, NFL-ready mind with experience in a pro-style offense.

     

    WEAKNESSES

    A finesse receiver with good hands but very poor speed for the NFL, Christian doesn’t have the twitch to get open at the line of scrimmage or the speed to separate and pull away from pro defenders. He’s too small to play in-line (6’3”, 244 pounds) and isn’t physical at the catch point. Christian, who was originally at Florida before transferring to get more playing time, plays like a wide receiver with offensive-tackle speed. The hands and mental aspects are all there, but Christian doesn’t possess the traits to get open against NFL defenses.

     

    2014 STATISTICS

    Receptions        Receiving Yards       Touchdowns
     32 384 5


    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Backup)

19. A.J. Derby, Arkansas

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    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images
    HeightWeightArm Length40 TimeBench Press
     6'4" 255 lbs 30 ½" - 15 reps

    STRENGTHS

    Fast and tough, A.J. Derby impresses on film. He’s a natural receiver and uses his hands very well to pluck the ball out of the air. He’s a former quarterback and linebacker with NFL bloodlines (dad and uncle), and he plays with that toughness when the ball is in his hands. Derby can create after the catch (see him against Alabama) and get low to run over safeties in the open field. He projects best as a move tight end and could see time at H-back or fullback if motioned around pre-snap. Derby is a low-floor, high-ceiling player with impressive athleticism and toughness.

     

    WEAKNESSES

    Derby has been a limited starter at Arkansas and missed the final two games of his senior year due to a knee injury. With just eight starts in his career, he’s a very raw, inexperienced player in every respect. He doesn’t yet understand timing on breaking routes and does get lost in zone coverage at times. As an in-line blocker, he’s a non-factor due to a lack of technique in his hand placement and timing. The potential is there, but he’s not ready to be left on the edge in the run game.

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Ryan Griffin, Houston Texans

    Derby has big potential, but he’s incredibly raw, too. That draws a comparison to Ryan Griffin—another high-upside athlete who needed time to develop in the NFL.

     

    2014 STATISTICS

    Receptions        Receiving Yards       Touchdowns
     22 303 3


    FINAL GRADE: 5.05/9.00 (Backup)

18. Matt LaCosse, Illinois

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
    HeightWeightArm Length40 TimeBench Press
     6'6" 250 lbs - - -

    STRENGTHS 

    A speedy tight end with a 4.64-second 40 at his pro day, Matt LaCosse could make an immediate impact in the NFL. He’s big (6’6”, 250 lbs) with the feet to get off the line quickly and into his route. On film, LaCosse looks every bit of his 4.6-second speed and has the gear to take the top off the defense and push safeties deep. LaCosse can take away inside leverage from defenders with an outside release and has the strength to run through hand contact. As a pure catcher, he has soft hands and is able to adjust to make tougher grabs away from his body. LaCosse offers upside as a blocker in the run game and is a very willing player but needs technique work.

     

    WEAKNESSES

    LaCosse didn't show great production or see many reps at Illinois and wasn’t a featured player in its offense. That led to just 38 career catches. He’s raw as a route-runner and right away could be little more than a seam-buster or dump-off player. LaCosse will have to improve his strength to effectively beat jams from NFL linebackers, and making transitions in traffic with hands all over him will be an issue until he gains strength.

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts

    LaCosse has size and athleticism but needs time to develop. When looking at style and upside, he’s Jack Doyle with a little more speed.

     

    2014 STATISTICS

    Receptions        Receiving Yards       Touchdowns
     14 117 3


    FINAL GRADE: 5.09/9.00 (Backup)

17. Devin Mahina, BYU

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    Kent Horner/Getty Images
    HeightWeightArm Length40 TimeBench Press
     6'6" 251 lbs - - -

    STRENGTHS

    A talented pass-catcher, Devin Mahina has NFL potential. Working up the seam, he adjusts well to the ball thrown over his shoulder and has awareness to track the ball to either side of his frame. He’s athletic enough to come off his route and spot underthrown balls. After the catch, Mahina is quick enough to pick up positive yards, and he’ll run over defenders who try to go low on him. He is not a great blocker but is solid on the move and coming off angles. Mahina was invited to the Senior Bowl and stood out against the competition there.

     

    WEAKNESSES

    Mahina plays soft too often, and it affects his ability to earn respect from defenses. He doesn’t maintain blocks and lets defenders beat him with their hands at the point of attack. The easy catch is sometimes too hard for Mahina, who is a bit of a bobbler. His separation is just average, and he doesn’t play up to his 6’6” frame to high-point and take the ball away from smaller defenders. Mahina has to learn to use his size to his advantage.

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Chase Ford, Minnesota Vikings

    A good athlete with potential as a move or in-line tight end, Mahina’s athleticism and style are reminiscent of Chase Ford.

     

    2014 STATISTICS

    Receptions        Receiving Yards       Touchdowns
     20 244 3


    FINAL GRADE: 5.09/9.00 (Backup)

16. C.J. Uzomah, Auburn

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
    HeightWeightArm Length40 TimeBench Press
     6'5" 264 lbs - - -

    STRENGTHS

    A versatile tight end who impresses when he walks into the room, C.J. Uzomah can line up in-line, in the slot, in the backfield or at wide receiver. The Auburn offense asked him to be a chess piece, and he filled the role well. Uzomah’s background as a wide receiver shows up in his ability to haul in contested catches. He has soft hands and is determined to make the ball his.

     

    WEAKNESSES

    Uzomah wasn’t invited to the combine, which is a concern given his athleticism and program size. The Auburn offense did him no favors, and he was never featured in the passing game, which makes him a very raw route-runner heading to the NFL. As a blocker he gives effort, but his base is way too narrow and his recovery skills poor. Uzomah isn’t NFL-ready but has NFL upside. He’s a gamble who could pay off.

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Anthony McCoy, Seattle Seahawks

    Raw but athletic, Uzomah and Anthony McCoy share similarities.

     

    2014 STATISTICS

    Receptions        Receiving Yards       Touchdowns
    11 145 3


    FINAL GRADE: 5.09/9.00 (Backup)

15. Cameron Clear, Texas A&M

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images
    HeightWeightArm Length40 TimeBench Press
     6'5" 277 lbs 33 " 4.98 s -

    STRENGTHS

    A huge tight end, Cameron Clear has the strength and length to be a factor on the edge. Clear is a massive man but moves well for his size and frame, showing good quickness in space and enough shake to get separation from linebackers. He comes off the ball well and has buildup speed to get into his route. He has the feet and hips to break off routes cleanly. In the blocking game, he has length and size and flashes a lot of potential if he can improve his technique (hand placement, timing).

     

    WEAKNESSES

    Clear is a former JUCO player with limited experience and no reps in a pro-style blocking scheme. Clear doesn’t jump off the film as the most engaged or aggressive player. He was a spot player at A&M and never played as well as he looks on the hoof. Off-the-field issues are notable, as Clear was kicked out of Tennessee after an arrest for felony theft (he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor) in 2012. A move to offensive tackle may be in the cards, as Clear already has the height and length and is nearly heavy enough (6’5”, 277 lbs, 33 ⅝” arms).

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars

    A huge tight end with surprising athleticism, Clear could be a present-day Marcedes Lewis or even make the move to offensive tackle.

     

    2014 STATISTICS

    Receptions        Receiving Yards       Touchdowns
     5 34 0


    FINAL GRADE: 5.09/9.00 (Backup)

14. Nick Boyle, Delaware

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press
    HeightWeightArm Length40 TimeBench Press
     6'4" 268 lbs 33 " 5.04 s 20 reps

    STRENGTHS

    A Senior Bowl invitee from Delaware, Nick Boyle had a good enough week in Alabama to attract the attention of NFL teams. Boyle has the ideal NFL frame at 6’4” and 268 pounds and uses his length and hand size well in the passing and run games. As a blocker, Boyle looks good. He uses a wide base and understands how to incorporate his length and hand size. He’ll keep his feet churning through the block to sustain contact and leverage. When thrown to, Boyle has soft hands and looks the ball in comfortably. While he doesn’t bring much juice after the catch as a runner, he is physical and will look to truck defenders.

     

    WEAKNESSES

    Boyle lacks the fluid, fast feet of today’s tight ends. He has below-average speed and isn’t a threat to work up the seam or after the catch. Boyle is heavy-footed and won’t shake defenders in his route tree or with the ball in his hands. He’s robotic throughout the route and doesn’t show the body control to hide his routes well. When utilized as a blocker, he’s hot and cold and will let defenders beat him on a second effort.

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit Lions

    Athletically limited, Boyle will never win a footrace, but he’s physical and capable of playing on all three downs, like Brandon Pettigrew does.

     

    2014 STATISTICS

    Receptions        Receiving Yards       Touchdowns
     37 304 4


    FINAL GRADE: 5.09/9.00 (Backup)

13. Jesse James, Penn State

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press
    HeightWeightArm Length40 TimeBench Press
     6'7" 261 lbs 33" 4.83s 26 reps

    STRENGTHS

    A big, physical tight end with impressive workout numbers, Jesse James is a high-potential prospect. At 6’7” and 261 pounds, James has the frame to out-position smaller linebackers and safeties for the ball and the catch radius to extend over the top. James’ film shows him making the ridiculous catch, and he has top-level hand strength and concentration. James has big upside to become a better pro than college player, as he features the size and hands to attack the seam and stand out in the end zone.

     

    WEAKNESSES

    James is a very tall player coming off the ball and makes himself a big target for press coverage. He’s not a twitchy, quick player and lacks sudden burst off the snap. The high-cut frame and limited athleticism result in stiff movement. When asked to stay in and run-block, he's solid but doesn't have a great motor. He won’t give you much after the catch and is a spot receiver with end-zone potential.

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Scott Chandler, New England Patriots

    A big, long tight-end target with average athleticism, James is comparable to Scott Chandler but with greater potential.

     

    2014 STATISTICS

    Receptions        Receiving Yards       Touchdowns
     38 396 3


    FINAL GRADE: 5.25/9.00 (Quality Backup)

12. Randall Telfer, USC

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press
    HeightWeightArm Length40 TimeBench Press
     6'4" 250 lbs 33 ½" - 20 reps

    STRENGTHS

    One of the more aggressive players in this year’s class, Randall Telfer loves contact. Telfer looks the part on the hoof and has the frame of an NFL tight end. Telfer gives total effort as a run-blocker and wins most battles there. He’s a smart technician lined up next to the offensive tackle and shows a good, strong punch and the power to drive-block in the run game. Telfer is as aggressive when asked to run after the catch. He’s powerful with the ball in his hands and has enough agility to pick up tough yards. He’s scheme-flexible and a smart, hard-working player.

     

    WEAKNESSES

    Limited production (65 catches) will be a red flag on Telfer’s scouting report and fuel the belief that he’s a one-dimensional player. Telfer doesn’t have great play speed or flexibility, and that shows up when he’s asked to separate as a route-runner. He lacks fluidity and loses body control when breaking off his routes. Drops were an issue when Telfer was targeted, which wasn’t often.

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Richard Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

    A solid athlete with good blocking skills and raw receiving talent, Telfer’s size and style match that of Richard Rodgers coming out of Cal.

     

    2014 STATISTICS

    Receptions        Receiving Yards       Touchdowns
     21 197 2


    FINAL GRADE: 5.25/9.00 (Quality Backup)

11. James O'Shaughnessy, Illinois State

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    TIM SHARP/Associated Press
    HeightWeightArm Length40 TimeBench Press
     6'4" 245 lbs - - -

    STRENGTHS

    A small-school stud with eye-catching traits, James O’Shaughnessy’s name is heating up as the draft approaches. O’Shaughnessy has plus-speed for his size (6’4”, 245 lbs) and works well off the line of scrimmage. More impressive is his agility, which helps him avoid pressure at the line and fight through traffic at the next level. He’s a clean catcher with soft hands, great concentration and a feel for timing when the ball is in the air. He can be a downfield threat and will be a jump-ball weapon in the end zone.

     

    WEAKNESSES

    O’Shaughnessy wasn’t invited to the Senior Bowl or combine, and he has not been tested against NFL-caliber talent. On film, he is not a great route-runner and is too top-heavy when making cuts and breaking off his route stem. As a blocker, he’s not NFL-ready and needs to build pro-level strength. O’Shaughnessy’s awareness and instincts as a route-runner aren’t there yet.

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Vance McDonald, San Francisco 49ers

    A raw player with good athletic and technique upside, O’Shaughnessy is similar to Vance McDonald.

     

    2014 STATISTICS

    Receptions        Receiving Yards       Touchdowns
     29 544 9


    FINAL GRADE: 5.29/9.00 (Quality Backup)

10. Nick O'Leary, FSU

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
    HeightWeightArm Length40 TimeBench Press
     6'3" 252 lbs 29 ¾" 4.93 s 21 reps

    STRENGTHS

    A tough, gritty player who shows up in big spots, Nick O’Leary made plays when Florida State needed them most. He’s tough as a blocker, and if he gets the angle on a defender, O'Leary can ride him through the whistle. O’Leary is a beast against zone coverage, finding weaknesses and soft spots and sitting down to make himself a target. He shows his numbers to the quarterback and is a very passer-friendly target who slides through coverage to get open. When the pass is thrown his way, O’Leary exhibits strong, sure hands and won’t put the ball on the ground.

     

    WEAKNESSES

    O’Leary doesn’t match baseline standards for speed, agility or arm length. At FSU, he often found himself open after the pocket broke down and he adjusted his route—and that will only go so far in the NFL. As a route-runner, O’Leary doesn’t have the rapid footwork or loose hips to break free from coverage. He can be neutralized by linebackers and will be dominated by safeties in man coverage. The best-case scenario for O’Leary is an offense that lets him move pre-snap like an H-back or move tight end.

     

    PRO COMPARISON: James Casey, Denver Broncos

    A limited athlete but a potential chess piece for the offense, O’Leary could carve out a spot like James Casey has and be a productive pro.

     

    2014 STATISTICS

    Receptions        Receiving Yards       Touchdowns
     48 618 6


    FINAL GRADE: 5.30/9.00 (Quality Backup)

9. Ben Koyack, Notre Dame

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    Joe Raymond/Associated Press
    HeightWeightArm Length40 TimeBench Press
     6'5" 255 lbs 32 " - -

    STRENGTHS

    A three-down tight end with top-tier blocking prospects, Ben Koyack has a real shot to be better in the NFL than he was in South Bend. As a blocker, Koyack will impress. He uses his length well and has big, strong, heavy hands to punch and stun defenders. He can come at defenders from an in-line position, in motion or cracking down from the slot. As a receiver, Koyack didn’t see a ton of targets, but when thrown to, he flashed soft hands and confidence in his catch radius. As a route-runner, he shows immediate potential up the seam and on sideline routes.

     

    WEAKNESSES

    Koyack has very limited production (44 career catches) and very few starts, as he was behind players like Troy Niklas at Notre Dame. Koyack is a limited athlete who won’t run away from defenders and is not a threat after the catch. He’s looks tight when asked to execute on breaking routes and has to perfect his ability to plant and go out of breaks.

     

    PRO COMPARISON: John Carlson, Arizona Cardinals

    A big, strong tight end with tools to block and catch, Koyack possesses traits very much like another former Notre Dame tight end, John Carlson.

     

    2014 STATISTICS

    Receptions        Receiving Yards       Touchdowns
     30 317 2


    FINAL GRADE: 5.30/9.00 (Quality Backup)

8. Tyler Kroft, Rutgers

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    Mel Evans/Associated Press
    HeightWeightArm Length40 TimeBench Press
     6'5" 246 lbs 33" - 17 reps

    STRENGTHS

    A versatile athlete who played tight end (two years) and wide receiver (one year) at Rutgers, Tyler Kroft is a tough matchup for defenses. Kroft is quicker than he is fast and gets going with good buildup speed. He has the body to add more muscle and is still a green player at tight end. Kroft can line up in the slot, in the backfield or in-line to attack the defense. A very strong blocker, he is both willing and tough at the point of attack and will nag defenders through the play; he looks to dominate the block. Kroft is the type of athlete teams want running the seam, and his height makes him a threat in the end zone on jump balls or fade routes.

     

    WEAKNESSES

    Kroft alleges that he was injured by combine doctors and wasn’t able to participate in any drills in Indianapolis because of it. This is the same ankle he sprained during the team’s bowl game. With a 4.75-second 40-yard dash post-injury, Kroft’s workout speed isn’t enough to convince that he’ll stick at wide receiver. He’s a tweener with tight-end speed and a wide-receiver body. The issue there is that, without power or speed, he struggles to free himself from pressure at the line of scrimmage. Kroft’s hands in the open field are inconsistent, especially when he’s asked to pull balls in thrown away from his body.

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Owen Daniels, Denver Broncos

    An average athlete with good quickness and size, Kroft has the tools to be a long-term starter. Athletically and style-wise, he’s an Owen Daniels clone.

     

    2014 STATISTICS

    Receptions        Receiving Yards       Touchdowns
     24 269 0


    FINAL GRADE: 5.35/9.00 (Quality Backup)

7. MyCole Pruitt, Southern Illinois

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press
    HeightWeightArm Length40 TimeBench Press
     6'2" 251 lbs 33 ½" 4.58 s 17 reps

    STRENGTHS

    An athletic, speedy tight end with move tight-end traits, MyCole Pruitt will excite teams looking for a vertical threat. Pruitt was a stud at the FCS level, earning All-American honors in 2013 and 2014. He’s been highly productive, notching 13 touchdowns in 2014 and 221 total catches in four years. He’s a clean catcher with soft, big hands (10 ¼”) and good concentration in traffic. He’s confident in his catching ability and extends well away from his frame to make plays on the ball. Pruitt can play in-line, in motion or flexed out from the formation. He’s a solid blocker with sound fundamentals when asked to close down in the run game.

     

    WEAKNESSES

    Pruitt isn’t as explosive on the field as he showed at the combine. And while among the most productive tight ends in college football, he was playing against subpar competition and hasn’t proved himself against NFL talent. As a route-runner, he has to match the speed and agility of his workouts, as his footwork and hip flexibility are a bit stiff and mechanical on film. The biggest question here is effort. Pruitt taps out too often and doesn’t have that nonstop motor you want.

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Ben Watson, New Orleans Saints

    An elite athlete with big potential as a receiver, Pruitt has Ben Watson-like traits and upside.

     

    2014 STATISTICS

    Receptions        Receiving Yards       Touchdowns
     81 861 13


    FINAL GRADE: 5.40/9.00 (Quality Backup)

6. Rory Anderson, South Carolina

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    Stephen B. Morton/Associated Press
    HeightWeightArm Length40 TimeBench Press
     6'5" 244 lbs 32 ¼" - -

    STRENGTHS

    An athletic, moving tight end with eye-opening speed, Rory Anderson can keep defensive coordinators up at night. Anderson can stretch the field vertically and has the goods to take the top off the defense. He adjusts to the ball well and has high-pointing ability on jump balls. After the catch, he’s dangerous with the ball in his hands and moves more like a wide receiver than a tight end. Teams will love his versatility and the fact that he’s a mismatch with alignment flexibility. Anderson is a classic seam-buster at tight end.

     

    WEAKNESSES

    Injuries limited his career at South Carolina. In 2014 alone, he tore both triceps muscles, and he missed the season opener in 2013 with a hamstring injury. That led to just 19 starts for Anderson in college. He’s raw as a route-runner and so far wins with speed over body control. As a blocker he’s limited, and his 244-pound frame struggles to hold up at the point of attack. Durability issues aside, he has to get stronger to play in-line in the NFL. Anderson’s understanding of angles and leverage is poor in the blocking game.

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Virgil Green, Denver Broncos

    A linear athlete with game-changing speed, Anderson compares very well to Virgil Green athletically but has higher potential as a prospect.

     

    2014 STATISTICS

    Receptions        Receiving Yards       Touchdowns
     22 260 1


    FINAL GRADE: 5.40/9.00 (Quality Backup)

5. Blake Bell, Oklahoma

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press
    HeightWeightArm Length40 TimeBench Press
     6'6" 252 lbs 33 " 4.80 s 14 reps

    STRENGTHS

    A former starting quarterback at Oklahoma, Blake Bell earns respect for making a selfless move to tight end before his senior season. Bell has natural footwork and is a top-tier athlete at tight end. He’s a power player with good body control and leg drive to get into his routes and pick up yards post-catch. He played some in-line tight end, showed a willingness to block in the run game and is athletic enough to play some fullback or H-back, depending on the system. Bell showed sure hands and a determined development throughout the season at tight end. He committed to the position and improved steadily.

     

    WEAKNESSES

    Bell is the most raw of all the tight ends in this class. The Oklahoma offense protected him as a route-runner, and he needs time to familiarize himself with a full route tree. He doesn’t flash great breakaway speed and may need to lose some weight if asked to be a move tight end so that he can gain quickness. Bell is not ready to be an in-line NFL blocker and needs to be coached up on angles, leverage and hand placement.

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Troy Niklas, Arizona Cardinals

    An athlete with a big frame and soft hands, Bell is an even comparison to Troy Niklas in terms of style and upside.

     

    2014 STATISTICS

    Receptions        Receiving Yards       Touchdowns
     16 214 4


    FINAL GRADE: 5.45/9.00 (Quality Backup)

4. Wes Saxton, South Alabama

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    G.M. Andrews/Associated Press
    HeightWeightArm Length40 TimeBench Press
     6'3" 248 lbs 32" 4.65 s -

    STRENGTHS

    A plus-level athlete with big potential, Wes Saxton is a player to keep an eye on as a sleeper. He’s quick, he's strong and he has the second-gear speed to take the top off the defense. Saxton gets into his route quickly and has the balance, body control and footwork to break off routes and leave coverage behind. Saxton is at his best when moving before the snap and offers versatility as a tight end, fullback or H-back prospect. He has a big catch radius and isn’t afraid of traffic, showing the confidence in his hands to extend and pull the ball in cleanly.

     

    WEAKNESSES

    Saxton started only eight games in 2014 and arrives at the pro level having played limited snaps. It’s an immediate concern that he wasn’t a dominant player at a smaller school and that he regressed in his final season. Saxton won’t appeal to teams looking for an in-line tight end. As a blocker, he’s below average and has to rely on the formation or pre-snap motion to get an angle on defenders. His effort in the run game leaves something to be desired. He’s a raw player winning with athleticism and hasn’t developed technique as a route-runner or blocker.

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Jordan Reed, Washington

    A bit of a boom-or-bust player with big athletic upside, Saxton is Jordan Reed, minus the injuries, coming into the NFL.

     

    2014 STATISTICS

    Receptions        Receiving Yards       Touchdowns
     20 155 0


    FINAL GRADE: 5.50/9.00 (Future Starter)

3. Jeff Heuerman, Ohio State

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    LM Otero/Associated Press
    HeightWeightArm Length40 TimeBench Press
     6'5" 254 lbs 33 ¼" - 26 reps

    STRENGTHS

    A three-down tight end with receiving skills, blocking skills and crazy athleticism, Jeff Heuerman is the ultimate team player. In 2014, he took on a different role as more of a blocker to help a young offense, and did so with a fractured foot. With good speed and agility, Heuerman is a Cover 2-buster at tight end and has the arsenal to work up the field vertically. He does all that’s asked of him and is a favorite of the Ohio State coaching staff. He has the upside to be a better pro than college tight end.

     

    WEAKNESSES

    Limited production in college will raise eyebrows from scouts. Heuerman isn’t a polished route-runner coming out of head coach Urban Meyer’s offense and has to learn to be more controlled in his body lean and footwork. Heuerman did make great strides as a blocker in 2014, but he’ll still get overwhelmed at the point of attack in the run game.

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals

    A good athlete with an NFL body and solid three-down skills, Heuerman can develop into the talent that Tyler Eifert is.

     

    2014 STATISTICS

    Receptions        Receiving Yards       Touchdowns
     17 207 2


    FINAL GRADE: 5.49/9.00 (Future Starter)

2. Clive Walford, Miami (Fla.)

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    Eric Francis/Getty Images
    HeightWeightArm Length40 TimeBench Press
     6'4" 251 lbs 34" 4.79 s 20 reps

    STRENGTHS

    A silky-smooth tight end with a basketball background, Clive Walford has huge upside. Walford dominated the Senior Bowl, showing athleticism, a feel for space and a big catch radius. Walford is a very good move-blocker who can seal off the edge with an angle block and does well getting off his initial assignment to get to the second level. He effectively uses his 34-inch arms to lock out defenders and is a tough player at the point of attack. He’s a three-down tight end with the versatility to play in-line, in motion or flexed into the slot. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see an NFL team use Walford in the backfield at times if it doesn't carry a fullback.

     

    WEAKNESSES

    Walford’s senior season ended with a meniscus injury that required surgery after the regular season. He’s still very raw and almost unnatural catching the ball, and concentration lapses lead to drops (to his credit, this didn’t happen at the Senior Bowl). As a route-runner, he tends to be tall and rigid, but this is a coaching point and not a physical limitation. When corrected, his body lean will prevent defenders from reading his route.

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts

    A receiver with positional versatility and very good blocking ability, Walford is this year’s Dwayne Allen.

     

    2014 STATISTICS

    Receptions        Receiving Yards       Touchdowns
     44 676 7


    FINAL GRADE: 6.00/9.00 (Future Starter)

1. Maxx Williams, Minnesota

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    John Raoux/Associated Press
    HeightWeightArm Length40 TimeBench Press
     6'4" 249 lbs 33 ½" 4.78 s 17 reps

    STRENGTHS

    A redshirt sophomore with an NFL pedigree (his dad Brian played for the Giants, his grandfather for the Bears), Maxx Williams is the clear-cut top tight end in this class. He’s a plus-level athlete in terms of speed, strength and agility and displays the total skill set to get open and produce in the NFL. Williams has clean hands and looks the ball into his frame without hesitation or double-clutching. Williams has the speed to run away from coverage and is slippery after the catch. He plays with a chip on his shoulder and doesn’t back down from a challenge. He has enough speed and agility to attack the middle of the field and plays with enough strength to stand his ground in traffic with linebackers and safeties. Motor will never be a concern for Williams.

     

    WEAKNESSES

    Williams may be limited when it comes to scheme or role, as he’s a move tight end only and not an in-line blocker. Williams is raw and largely inexperienced, playing in just 25 games in college. He’s not yet a great route-runner and made a living with zone routes in college. He has to learn body control when breaking off his routes. At this stage, Williams is a very limited blocker. Sources with two NFL teams told us that Williams did not interview well: “Cocky, bored kid who seemed too good for us.”

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers

    A big, athletic target with the skills to post up or outrun defenders, Williams' doppelganger is Greg Olsen, then and now.

     

    2014 STATISTICS

    Receptions        Receiving Yards       Touchdowns
     36 569 8


    FINAL GRADE: 6.30/9.00 (Rookie Starter)