NFL Draft 400: Ranking the Draft's Top TEs

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterApril 4, 2017

NFL Draft 400: Ranking the Draft's Top TEs

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    The 2017 NFL draft class features elite talent at the top of the board in Myles Garrett and Leonard Fournette. After that? This is one of the deepest classes in the six years I've been scouting at Bleacher Report.

    Stacking the board top to bottom for the 2017 class was no easy task. There are a legitimate record-breaking number of first-round talents on my board. Outside of Round 1, it was easy to imagine putting 60 of the top players into the top 40. If you can't find starters in Round 4 of this class, you're doing it wrong.

    So who is the best overall? How about the best at each position? The goal of the NFL Draft 400 series is to figure that out.

    The top 400 players were tracked, scouted, graded and ranked by me and my scouting assistants, Marshal Miller and Dan Bazal, and Connor Rogers. Together, we viewed tape of a minimum of three games per player (the same standard NFL teams use). Oftentimes, we saw every play by a prospect over the last two years. That led to the grades, rankings and scouting reports you see here.

    Players were graded on strengths and weaknesses, with a pro-player comparison added to match the player's style or fit in the pros. The top 400 players will be broken down position by position for easy viewing before the 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 in our top 400.

Matt Miller's NFL Draft Grading Scale

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    At the end of each scouting report, you'll see a final grade that falls somewhere between 4.00 and 9.00. This scale comes from the teaching I received from Charley Casserly, Michael Lombardi and other former and current front office personnel in the NFL. I tweaked it this year to be more transparent, and as a result, each player received a number grade as well as a ranking.

    This applies to all positions across the board.

    Matt Miller's NFL Draft Grading Scale
    GradeLabel
    9.00Elite—No. 1 pick
    8.00-8.99All-Pro—Rare Talent
    7.50-7.99Round 1—Pro Bowl Potential
    7.00-7.49Round 1—Top-15 Player Potential
    6.50-6.99Round 2—Rookie Impact/Future Starter
    6.00-6.49Round 3—Rookie Impact/Future Starter
    5.80-5.99Round 3-4—Future Starter
    5.70-5.79Round 4—Backup Caliber
    5.60-5.69Round 5—Backup Caliber
    5.30-5.59Round 6—Backup Caliber
    5.10-5.25Round 7—Backup Caliber
    5.00Priority Free Agent
    4.50-4.99Camp Player

19. Pharaoh Brown, Oregon

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    Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-ConeShort Shuttle
    6'6"255 lbs4.82s7.24s4.46s

    POSITIVES

    Pharaoh Brown is a gigantic target with more length than even the top tight ends in this class. He's also a significant red-zone presence who can box out defenders. He has the upside to develop as a true inline blocker and safety valve in short-yardage situations. Brown has a basketball background that shows up in how he attacks the ball in the air, and his size is perfect for a red-zone post-up player. He can be a classic Y-tight end.

    NEGATIVES

    He never returned to full form after a brutal leg injury in 2014. He lost that premium athleticism and was an average-at-best threat after the catch. He also can drop easy passes. Brown has been tied to multiple off-the-field incidents, including a domestic violence investigation in which he wasn't arrested or charged and locker room fights with teammates, per the Daily Emerald. Maturity and decision-making are a sizable question mark. Brown doesn't show great on-field instincts, and a lack of athleticism leads to struggles in separation.
     

    PRO COMPARISON: Ryan Griffin, Houston Texans

    FINAL GRADE: 4.99/9.00 (Undrafted Free Agent)

18. Blake Jarwin, Oklahoma State

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    Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-ConeShort Shuttle
    6'5"246 lbs4.72s7.29sN/A

    POSITIVES

    Blake Jarwin played all over the formation for Oklahoma State in 2016. He's lined up both in-line and in an H-back role (in the backfield and in the slot) and has produced as a pass-catcher despite a limited role in the offense. Jarwin has the athleticism to be a matchup player in the pros. He could easily play as a flex tight end or even a fullback in the right scheme. A tough player with a high work ethic, he has the tools to become a more prolific pass-catcher at the next level than he was in college. His improvement over the last three seasons is worth noting. He has cleaned his game up immensely and is making more plays in traffic and with higher consistency.

    NEGATIVES

    Jarwin's straight-line speed and agility are iffy. He doesn't pop off the tape as a runner, and with limited size and strength, he needs to play fast. Without the lower-body strength to hold his ground as a blocker, Jarwin needs to be used on the move to get an angle and push defenders off the line of scrimmage. Going back to 2015, he was dropping a number of passes on limited targets. The lack of production in the Cowboys offense can be chalked up to scheme, but it's also discouraging that he couldn't do more as a receiver.
     

    PRO COMPARISON: Jake McGee, Los Angeles Chargers

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Undrafted Free Agent)

17. Hayden Plinke, UTEP

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press
    Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-ConeShort Shuttle
    6'4"264 lbs4.93s7.60s4.62s

    POSITIVES

    Originally signed to Boise State, Hayden Plinke transferred to Portland State before landing at UTEP. A two-year starter for the Miners, Plinke posted eight touchdowns in 2016 and showed his value as a red-zone target. With big hands and an NFL frame, he can work in-line or in a flex position. As a route-runner, he's not pulling away from defenders down the field, but he can do damage on underneath routes and could produce on drags and fade routes. Plinke has solid three-down skills for a team that wants a second or third tight end that can line up all over the formation.

    NEGATIVES

    A lack of speed is a major issue for Plinke's projection to the next level. Running a 4.97 at the combine will turn teams off immediately. The ability to run away from NFL linebackers is in doubt after Plinke struggled to consistently get away from college defensive backs. His drops are too often seen on film, and there are questions about if he'll be able to make contested grabs in the pros. Average hands and bad speed won't help Plinke's stock. Poor overall athleticism is the major obstacle to Plinke having an NFL career.
     

    PRO COMPARISON: Brandon Myers, Free Agent

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Undrafted Free Agent)

16. Antony Auclair, Laval

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press
    Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-ConeShort Shuttle
    6'5 1/2"256 lbs4.89s7.30s4.37s

    POSITIVES

    A Canadian prospect, 17 NFL teams traveled to watch Antony Auclair and his teammates work out at the school's pro day. After a strong showing at the 2017 East-West Shrine Game, the 6'6", 254-pound Auclair has plenty of buzz building. An in-line prospect with good blocking effort and a strong foundation of technique, Auclair can become a three-down player in the NFL with development. His movement skills are also impressive. He's an easy mover and has enough burst to get into his route with separation. As a drive blocker, he latches on with long arms and has the lower-body strength to move defensive ends to the second level. Auclair is a hands-catcher with a natural ability to pull in the ball. In space, he's a natural runner with yards-after-catch potential.

    NEGATIVES

    A lack of play against top competition is the biggest question mark. Auclair did look the part on film and in the Shrine Game, but even then, it was against second-tier talent. As a route-runner, he's very limited and very raw. Auclair will need his passing game completely built up at the pro level. Most of the grabs on film are made in space, and he has to show he can make plays in traffic. Auclair doesn't have great natural athleticism and his ability to beat coverage with speed or quickness remains to be seen.
     

    PRO COMPARISON: Maxx Williams, Baltimore Ravens

    FINAL GRADE: 5.10/9.00 (Developmental Player—Round 7)

15. Eric Saubert, Drake

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press
    Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-ConeShort Shuttle
    6'5"253 lbs4.67s7.29sN/A

    POSITIVES

    One of the more impressive tight ends in the class on the hoof, Eric Saubert looks the part at 6'5" and 253 pounds with 33 ½” arms and the strength to rep out 225 pounds 22 times. Saubert has impressive straight-line speed and can attack the defense down the field. He's a touchdown machine with excellent vision with the ball in his hands. He's athletic attacking the ball and makes the difficult catch away from his body and in the air. A very good athlete, Saubert can be developed into something solid.

    NEGATIVES

    Saubert's hands are a weakness—and that's not great when your job is to catch the football. He's a classic "move" tight end and has big hands (10 ⅜”), but he struggles to make clean catches. As a blocker, he doesn't make much of an impact. He doesn't want to be involved in the run game and needs to be kept wide away from the formation. He's a glorified wide receiver. Saubert's routes need refined, but there he has the athleticism to show progress. He has to learn to play to his size.
     

    PRO COMPARISON: Jace Amaro, Tennessee Titans

    FINAL GRADE: 5.10/9.00 (Backup Caliber—Round 7)

14. Darrell Daniels, Washington

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
    Combine Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-ConeShort Shuttle
    6'3"247 lbs4.55s7.09s4.47s

    POSITIVES

    A former wide receiver, Darrell Daniels is a tremendous athlete with high-end straight-line speed for the tight end position, a gigantic wingspan and meat hooks for hands. He can work over the top of a defense but also snag short-yard receptions with YAC ability. He developed into an extremely solid run-blocker from his sophomore to his senior year, and he has experience on special teams covering kicks. Daniels made a late transition to tight end and still has upside at the position. He is a project, but his athleticism could make him a sleeper in this class.

    NEGATIVES

    He never secured a full-time role playing the majority of snaps. He can't be relied on in pass protection with poor technique, and he's a raw route-runner with a limited tree. Daniels doesn't show great physicality for the position and wants to live in space away from the formation. Despite running a 4.55 in the 40-yard dash at 6'3", 247 pounds, he doesn't routinely pull away from defenders both in his route and with the ball in his hands. Athletically he's a monster, but his play leaves you wanting a lot more.
     

    PRO COMPARISON: Chris Gragg, Free Agent

    FINAL GRADE: 5.25/9.00 (Developmental Player—Round 7)

13. Cole Hikutini, Louisville

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    Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-ConeShort Shuttle
    6'4 1/2"247 lbs4.79sN/AN/A

    POSITIVES

    A transfer from Sacramento State, Cole Hikutini only played one year of football in high school. At Louisville, he's been a stud pass-catcher and "move" tight end prospect for the past two years. At 6'4" and 247 pounds, Hikutini has the size for the flex position. An attacker when the ball is in the air, he shows impressive athleticism when he's adjusting to jump balls. He has the length and leaping ability to be an asset high-pointing passes. Big hands (10") allow Hikutini to pluck the ball out of the air and make difficult grabs. With the ball in his hands, he's quick and can get to his second gear to pull away from defenders in YAC situations.

    NEGATIVES

    He's really just a one-year wonder without the film history to show his development. His effort and strength are lacking when it comes to blocking. Hikutini best projects as a "move" tight end or H-back and will not be a fit in-line as a pro tight end. He doesn't have the base strength or length to be effective there. As a route-runner, there's some stiffness at the top of the stem. Hikutini doesn't show that loose-hipped shake needed to beat coverage when the defender is in his pocket.
     

    PRO COMPARISON: Luke Stocker, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    FINAL GRADE: 5.25/9.00 (Backup Caliber—Round 7)

12. Michael Roberts, Toledo

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    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-ConeShort Shuttle
    6'4 1/2"270 lbs4.81s7.05s4.51s

    POSITIVES

    The first thing you notice about Michael Roberts is his huge hands at 11 ½”. They fit well on a 6'4", 270-pound frame that's bursting with athleticism. While not straight-line fast, he is smooth and strong. A two-year producer at Toledo, Roberts is a chain-mover and does a great job making plays in traffic. He brings a huge catch radius to the field and knows where the first-down marker is. He's quick and gets into his route with urgency. Cuts from Roberts are so much more athletic than you expect from his frame, and he displays the flexibility and quickness to get in and out of breaks. Roberts is big enough to be a great threat in the red zone with his size, catch radius and ability to go up to attack the ball.

    NEGATIVES

    Roberts must prove he's more than a big body. As a blocker, there's not much to see despite his size. Effort and drive must be fixed before his technique and leverage are cleaned up. He can be stiff and heavy-footed at times in his route tree and isn't great at 90-degree cuts to the sideline. A perfect world has Roberts running fade routes and boxing out in the end zone.

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Dion Sims, Chicago Bears

    FINAL GRADE: 5.75/9.00 (Rotational Player—Round 4)

11. Jonnu Smith, Florida International

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    Don Juan Moore/Getty Images
    Combine Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-ConeShort Shuttle
    6'3"248 lbs4.62s7.12s4.18s

    POSITIVES

    An explosive athlete from a small school, Jonnu Smith turns heads on film. At 6'3" and 248 pounds he didn't burn up the track with a 4.62 time in the 40-yard dash but plays much faster with a great jump off the line of scrimmage. Smith was a four-year producer at FIU and was only injured once (sprained knee as a junior). As a route-runner, he's excellent in a straight-line and has the quickness to take the top off a defense. Lining up in the middle of the field, Smith can tear up Cover 2 defenses and understands how to sit down in space and make himself a target. His routes are silky smooth and he shows the feet, hips and body control to beat NFL coverage.

    NEGATIVES

    Smith is too loose with his hands and doesn't properly attack the ball. He'll let the pass get into his frame and likes to belly-catch. Tough defenders can ruin his day by throwing off his timing and path. He'll need to toughen up to play in-line but mostly projects as a flex tight end. As a route-runner he has to work on breaking routes and the timing of his steps. Smith is a project but a very good athlete and could become a Day One impact as a second tight end.
     

    PRO COMPARISON: Vance McDonald, San Francisco 49ers

    FINAL GRADE: 5.80/9.00 (Future Starter—Round 4)

10. Jordan Leggett, Clemson

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    Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-ConeShort Shuttle
    6'5 1/2"258 lbs4.71s7.26s4.53s

    POSITIVES

    A prototypical tight end, Jordan Leggett (6'5", 258 lbs) has NFL size and produced well in an offense that asked him to be a blocker and a receiver. A natural receiver, Leggett routinely makes grabs in traffic and is able to pull the ball in away from his frame. He uses his length well and has massive (10 ⅜”) hands. When Leggett is dialed in, he can be a tremendous threat up the seam and in the red zone. He gets his head around quickly to locate the ball and uses his frame and length to maneuver to the ball. Leggett moved all around the Clemson offense and is ready to step into an NFL scheme thanks to his versatility.

    NEGATIVES

    Leggett's stiffness and lack of agility are noticeable on film. He doesn't have the loose hips to make sharp cuts and lacks the foot speed to tear away from coverage. His effort is low at times, especially as a blocker, and scouts have questioned his work ethic. He can take himself out of games at times, and his usually big, strong catch radius will disappear against marginal talent but show up again against teams like Alabama. The inconsistency from Leggett can be maddening. Overall, he has to show more toughness and more drive to compete in a loaded tight end class.
     

    PRO COMPARISON: Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans

    FINAL GRADE: 5.99/9.00 (Future Starter—Round 4)

9. Jeremy Sprinkle, Arkansas

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    Ed Zurga/Getty Images
    Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-ConeShort Shuttle
    6'5"252 lbs4.61s7.10s4.53s

    POSITIVES

    A four-year producer at Arkansas, Jeremy Sprinkle looks the part on the hoof. At 6'5" and 252 pounds, he has great arm length (34 ½”) and hand size (10 ¾”). In the Arkansas offense, Sprinkle came alive in his senior season as a three-down player. You immediately fall in love with his effort and drive. He's an in-line tight end willing to sacrifice himself as a blocker in the run game. He sells out completely for the ball in the air, too. His buildup speed lets him run away from coverage in the SEC, and he shows enough foot quickness and balance to be a threat on cuts. After the catch, Sprinkle has a mean streak. There's some old-school Jeremy Shockey to his game..

    NEGATIVES

    Sprinkle was cited for unlawful concealment after attempting to shoplift during the team's visit to a Belk store as part of a promotional visit before the Belk Bowl—a game he was given a $450 Belk gift card for participating in. He was subsequently suspended. On the field, Sprinkle doesn't show consistent hands. He has to improve his ability to look the ball in and make contested catches away from his frame. His stiffness and lack of great speed could limit his ability to get open in the NFL. An ankle injury suffered in 2016 limited him for much of the season.
     

    PRO COMPARISON: Garrett Celek, San Francisco 49ers

    FINAL GRADE: 5.99/9.00 (Future Starter—Round 4)

8. George Kittle, Iowa

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    Matthew Holst/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-ConeShort Shuttle
    6'4"247 lbs4.52s6.76s4.07s

    POSITIVES

    A technician with top-level athleticism, Kittle explodes off the snap looking to bury his assignment as a blocker right through the whistle. He fits every positive Iowa stereotype, including his mindset, killer instinct and desire. Kittle can get out in front to set up screens or help runners get to the second level of the field. He displayed impressive straight-line speed at the NFL Scouting Combine with a 4.52 40-yard dash. You'll be hard-pressed to find him dropping a catchable pass on film, even though he wasn't featured in the Iowa offense that relied heavily on the ground game. Kittle's numbers weren't great in college (22 catches in 2016), but his wiring and athleticism are fantastic. He's a natural fit as an in-line tight end or even playing some H-back given his movement skills and strength. Kittle projects as a better pro than college player.

    NEGATIVES

    Kittle will struggle to remain as an in-line tight end at the next level due to size. He displays his best asset as a blocker, but overaggression can allow him to get beat at times. While he possesses straight-line explosiveness, he fails to be shifty in and out of routes and may need to be utilized mostly over the middle or up the seam. Ideally, Kittle can become more of a technician as a route-runner to shore up some inconsistent and sloppy routes.
     

    PRO COMPARISON: Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams

    FINAL GRADE: 5.99/9.00 (Future Starter—Round 4)

7. Gerald Everett, South Alabama

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press
    Combine Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-ConeShort Shuttle
    6'3"239 lbs4.60s6.99s4.33s

    POSITIVES

    A big-bodied, smooth athlete who tested at an elite level for the position, Everett is built like a tight end but runs like a wide receiver. He's an absolute mismatch player who has too much speed for linebackers to handle and can win with size against defensive backs. Everett is a relatively reliable pass-catcher who maximizes his catch radius. A threat in the open field, he forced 24 missed tackles in 2016, per Pro Football Focus. He's a high-effort blocker who consistently fights through the whistle. His red-zone potential is untapped and could explode with better QB play. Everett is a naturally gifted athlete who has been able to make plays on effort and ability thus far. He's a natural with the ball in his hands and could be a dynamic target in an open offense.

    NEGATIVES

    Everett will be strictly a move tight end in the pros. He wins routes with speed and athleticism over technique, which could simplify his early role. At a small school, Everett had average production in 2016 (717 receiving yards). He has small hands (8 ½") and a thin, lean body that could require more strength (especially in his lower body). As a technician, Everett has to get better as a route-runner. He's a little lazy with his cuts and doesn't show great anticipation or timing on breaking routes. He wants to box out and play in space, but against NFL linebackers and safeties he won't be able to play that game without better routes.
     

    PRO COMPARISON: Jared Cook, Oakland Raiders

    FINAL GRADE: 6.40/9.00 (Future Starter—Round 3)

6. Jake Butt, Michigan

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
    Combine Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-ConeShort Shuttle
    6'5 1/2"246 lbsINJINJINJ

    POSITIVES

    One of Michigan's team captains, Jake Butt has great hands with only seven career drops on 164 targets over last three seasons, per Pro Football Focus. He's a big red-zone target who displays a large catch radius and the ability to go up and win at the catch point. Butt is a quarterback's best friend with a 72 career completion percentage when targeted. He lives over the middle of the field to move the chains. He's a fearless, selfless player who can be a reliable safety valve for an NFL offense quickly when fully recovered from ACL surgery he had in January. He understands timing and leverage as a route-runner and has a knack for creating space to fit the football into. As a route-runner, he’s not particularly fast or sharp, but he does a great job of boxing out defenders to create space. He has big, natural hands to make plays in traffic.

    NEGATIVES

    Butt tore his ACL in the Michigan bowl game—the second tear on that same knee. How well he can recover his movement skills will be questioned even though he was never known for his speed and agility. Butt is a mediocre athlete that must win with size and technique over speed and agility. Lack of strength shows in poor blocking, where he loses at the point of attack and struggles to gain leverage. Butt is a throwback to the days of big, strong tight ends that weren't super-athletes. He'll be a chain-mover but not a game-changer.
     

    PRO COMPARISON: Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys

    FINAL GRADE: 6.40/9.00 (Future Starter—Round 3)

5. Adam Shaheen, Ashland

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    Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
    Combine Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-ConeShort Shuttle
    6'6 1/2"278 lbs4.79s7.09s4.38s

    POSITIVES

    A massive junior entry from Ashland, Adam Shaheen has been turning heads since he first announced his declaration. At 6'6" and 278 pounds, Shaheen has a lean, chiseled frame with athletic movements and great strength. You can see the basketball background when you watch Shaheen work out, which we did at the Pensacola EXOS facility. He has exceptional length but carries himself like a much lighter player. He knows how to win with size, length and leverage. At Ashland, Shaheen dominated and showed his versatility by moving all over the formation to find matchups. As a blocker, he's big and long and has the tools to become a threat as an in-line tight end. His awareness and instincts as a blocker were highly regarded. Athletically, it's not crazy to see some Rob Gronkowski here.

    NEGATIVES

    A lack of play against top-level competition will be the biggest question mark. Shaheen dominated in the Great Lakes Conference, but he wasn't facing NFL competition. Right now he's more athlete than player and must refine his route-running and blocking technique. Learning to adjust to physical coverage may be a chore for Shaheen after he was so much more dominant than his competition in college. As a blocker he needs to show a lot more effort and concentration. Too often he played smaller than his size and appeared to want to be a fade-route player only.
     

    PRO COMPARISON: Crockett Gillmore, Baltimore Ravens

    FINAL GRADE: 6.45/9.00 (Future Starter—Round 3)

4. Bucky Hodges, Virginia Tech

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    Michael Shroyer/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-ConeShort Shuttle
    6'6"257 lbs4.57s7.05s4.29s

    POSITIVES

    A tight end who played some wide receiver in 2016, Bucky Hodges is an ideal fit in a flex tight end role. He's able to move around the formation as an athlete and can be a tough matchup for defensive backs given his size and speed. At 6'6" and 257 pounds, Hodges has better size than most “flex” tight end prospects. He's an easy mover with a natural running motion and has shown the athleticism to make big plays down the field—both after the catch and as a route-runner. Hodges is a great player up the seam, and he showed in college that he's able to fight off bracket coverage and understands how to use his size to high-point the ball. With enough burst and pure straight-line speed to beat defenders off the line, Hodges can be used right away as an NFL tight end. With excellent football IQ and a knack for finding space, the former Virginia Tech tight end is a finished product.

    NEGATIVES

    Hodges' film doesn't show a ton of shake in his hips and feet. He's a straight-line guy and can struggle to beat coverage if he doesn't win from his initial burst. His speed is more build-up than sudden. Playing in a variety of roles at Virginia Tech may have kept Hodges from ever developing his route tree. Too often he's rounding routes and trying to win by simply posting up defenders. Dropped passes are a common occurrence on his film.
     

    PRO COMPARISON: Devin Funchess, Carolina Panthers

    FINAL GRADE: 6.60/9.00 (Rookie Impact—Round 2)

3. Evan Engram, Ole Miss

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    Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images
    Combine Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-ConeShort Shuttle
    6'3"233 lbs4.42s6.92s4.23s

    POSITIVES

    A flex tight end with wide receiver size and speed, Evan Engram can be the perfect matchup problem for defenses as a move tight end or H-back in the pros. His versatility will win him points with NFL scouts. A senior entry, Engram understands space well and has the burst to move well with or without the ball through traffic. He displays the acceleration to attack the ball in the air or to fly past defenders when he's running with the ball. An easy-moving athlete, Engram is an ideal projection to a slot position as a pass-catcher. He knows how to play above the rim and uses his size, speed and flexibility well as an athlete down the field. In an offensive system that will feature his tools in space, Engram could be a very prolific pass-catcher early in his career.

    NEGATIVES

    A lack of size is the biggest question mark for Engram. Because he's 6'3" and 234 pounds, he’ll be considered by some teams as not a fit given their offensive system. Engram is not a blocker and should never be utilized as an in-line player. As for route running, the Ole Miss system was simplistic and did not allow him to develop as a technician. Engram can get beat up in the middle of the field, and his lack of bulk can be a negative in traffic. He'll likely have a wide range of draft grades, with some teams potentially valuing him much higher than others because of fit.
     

    PRO COMPARISON: Jordan Reed, Washington

    FINAL GRADE: 6.95/9.00 (Rookie Impact—Round 2)

2. David Njoku, Miami (FL)

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    Joel Auerbach/Getty Images
    Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-ConeShort Shuttle
    6'4"246 lbs4.64s6.97s4.34s

    POSITIVES

    An absolute freak athlete at the position, David Njoku has great length at 6'4" with top-to-bottom door-frame wingspan to match. He's explosive in and out of his routes and has proved to be a vertical threat who can work the seam with speed. A mismatch nightmare, Njoku is a freight train in the open field with momentum. He has the ability to jump out of the gym and over defenders with the ball in his hand or for the contested catch. An alpha attitude and mindset on the field make Njoku a leader in the locker room. He can get outside and up front as an aggressive blocker in the run game. Perhaps the best quality—Njoku treats every catch and run like it's his last and will excel with scripted touches in the pros. Njoku, a redshirt sophomore entry, has plenty of time and room to grow into an elite pass-catching tight end.

    NEGATIVES

    Concentration can be an issue for Njoku, who had five drops on 69 targets in 2016, per Pro Football Focus. At this time, he can't be used as an in-line tight end but has room to add mass to his 246-pound frame. His struggles in pass protection, where he'll lose leverage and be overpowered, can be fixed but will keep Njoku away from a true blocking position in his rookie season.
     

    PRO COMPARISON: Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks

    FINAL GRADE: 7.20/9.00 (Top-15 Player Potential—Round 1)

1. O.J. Howard, Alabama

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    Don Juan Moore/Getty Images
    Combine Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-ConeShort Shuttle
    6'6"251 lbs4.51s6.85s4.16s

    POSITIVES

    O.J. Howard is a can't-miss tight end prospect. Blessed with excellent physical and athletic traits, he developed into a complete three-down player at Alabama. Howard grades as the best run-blocking tight end in the 2017 draft class and can do damage in the passing game. At 6'6" and 250 pounds, he is an automatic mismatch with cornerbacks, safeties and linebackers given his upper-level athleticism. Howard naturally attacks the ball as a receiver and consistently makes hands catches away from his frame. He understands how to elevate above the turf to make plays and is also comfortable getting physical with defenders to make traffic grabs. He's explosive, agile and tough, and the last four years at Alabama have shown his willingness to work to improve his craft and take fewer targets in an offensive system without complaining.

    NEGATIVES

    There aren't many weaknesses. Howard was never the focal point of the offense, and you could try to argue that he made many of his yards on broken plays. He doesn't always display a killer instinct on the football field and can disappear over long stretches and even be left out of the offensive game plan at times. Barring injury, Howard should become a top-tier NFL tight end early in his career.
     

    PRO COMPARISON: Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

    FINAL GRADE: 7.30/9.00 (Pro Bowl Potential—Top 10)