NFL1000: Free-Agent Rankings for the 2017 TE Market

NFL1000 ScoutsFeatured ColumnistFebruary 9, 2017

NFL1000: Free-Agent Rankings for the 2017 TE Market

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    Welcome to Bleacher Report's NFL1000 free agency preview, a series where we'll use the power of the 17-man NFL1000 scouting department to bring you in-depth analysis of every NFL free agent this offseason. In this installment, lead scout Doug Farrar, tight end scouts Marcus Mosher and Mark Schofield and dive into this year's TE class.

    The scope of what NFL teams demand from tight ends has changed dramatically over the last decade. 

    As spread offenses took over the league in the first decade of the new millennium, more and more big receiver tight ends versus blockers came into the league.

    Former basketball players and 270-pound athletic freaks who could beat safeties downfield on seam routes became the norm rather than the exception. Inline blockers were still in demand—and the occasional do-it-all tight end would arrive—but the split between the two types of tight ends was more stark than ever before.

    Now, in today's NFL, you see teams taking those designations even further. Franchises such as the Tennessee Titans, Pittsburgh Steelers and Atlanta Falcons run a high percentage of three-tight end formations, in which there are specialists at all three positions. There's the true receiving tight end, who can win against aggressive coverage over the middle, the short-to-intermediate receiving expert and the pure blocker. These types of players can be shuttled in and out depending on a team's strategy and its opponent. 

    In our rankings of free-agent tight ends for 2017, there's a whopping 33 players, and each player brings a specific set of attributes to the field. Only a couple of these guys are of the special do-it-all variety, but in the modern NFL, that's less of an issue than it has ever been before.

    Previous Installments:

    NFL1000 Free Agent Quarterback Rankings

    All advanced statistics courtesy of Pro Football Focus.

32. Gavin Escobar

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    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 10.9/20
    Hands: 12.9/25
    YAC: 10.3/20
    Blocking: 14.8/25
    Position Value: 6/10
    Overall: 54.9/100

                  

    NFL1000 TE Scout Marcus Mosher 

    Gavin Escobar is a possession receiver who lacks the elite athletic ability to be a hybrid tight end in the NFL, but he also struggles mightily in the running game. Defenses can dominate Escobar on the line of scrimmage with ease, as his only choice is to hold—a lot. The 26-year-old is a get-in-the-way-type blocker at best and is a liability in the running game.

    His 6'6", 260-pound size is his best trait, and he can utilize it in the red zone at times. He's not a physical tight end, as safeties and linebackers can intimidate him in the middle of the field. Escobar does show toughness at times when he is running up the seam.

    He is not a threat after the catch as his massive size and lack of athleticism limit his ability to shake defenders. As a free agent, Escobar's best hope is to catch on someone's roster as a third tight end. He has played a lot of snaps, but for Dallas few effective ones. Another problem is he's a guy who has missed time with injuries. At the end of 2015, Escobar tore his right Achilles tendon. He made it back before the 2016 season started, but he didn't play significant snaps until Week 10, after the Cowboys had suffered multiple injuries at the tight end position.  

    Escobar could return to Dallas on a one-year prove-it contract, but he will likely find more playing time elsewhere. His best fit is on a team that uses its tight end out wide or in the slot and doesn't ask much in terms of blocking. The Detroit Lions and Washington make sense for the San Diego State product.

    Doug's Quick Take 

    Escobar can best serve teams as a tight end outside the formation, and he'll do well in packages that feature two and three tight ends. Fortunately for him, there's an uptick in multi-TE sets, as the NFC champion Atlanta Falcons proved.

31. Clay Harbor

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    NFL1000 Scores 

    Route Running: 11/20
    Hands: 13.2/25
    YAC: 10.6/20
    Blocking: 14.4/25
    Position Value: 6/10
    Overall: 55.2/100


    NFL1000 TE Scout Mark Schofield 

    Clay Harbor began the 2016 season in camp with the New England Patriots, but the team released him in early October, prior to the season-ending injury to Rob Gronkowski. After being released, Harbor signed with the Detroit Lions the next day and immediately saw action. He appeared in 12 regular-season games, catching three passes on three targets for only 19 yards.

    As the statistics indicate, the Lions utilized Harbor primarily as a blocker. As a receiver, Harbor is a serviceable depth option who can run decent flat routes and find space against underneath zone coverage. In his role as a blocker, Harbor is adequate. He can provide some blocks off the wing or as an inline tight end, but he had some adjustment problems in Detroit. Early during his time there, he had some missed and unfinished blocks.


    Doug's Quick Take

    Harbor is a decent option as an inline tight end and on special teams. He's nothing fancy, but he's a decent player.

30. Sean McGrath

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    NFL1000 Scores 

    Route Running: 11.4/20
    Hands: 13.5/25
    YAC: 10.9/20
    Blocking: 16.3/25
    Position Value: 6/10
    Overall: 58.1/100

    NFL1000 TE Scout Mark Schofield

    Sean McGrath enters the sixth year of his NFL career (three years experience) as a restricted free agent, having already tested the retirement waters once. After going undrafted out of Henderson State, McGrath signed as a free agent with the Seattle Seahawks. McGrath saw limited action for Seattle before signing with the Kansas City Chiefs. During the 2013 season, he saw significant action as Kansas City battled injuries to Travis Kelce and Anthony Fasano.

    McGrath did not report to training camp at the start of the 2014 campaign and briefly retired. He returned to professional football, however, and was signed to the Indianapolis Colts' practice squad for a bit. After that, he bounced on and off the Chargers' practice squad for the 2015 season but made the 53-man roster for 2016.

    With the Chargers having both Antonio Gates and rookie Hunter Henry, McGrath served as the third tight end last season. He saw only two targets, catching both for a total of 25 receiving yards. San Diego used him exclusively as a blocker, and he was about league-average in that role.

    McGrath would be a depth addition for any team that chooses to sign him, and he could serve as a TE3 in either zone- or power-blocking running schemes.

    Doug's Quick Take 

    McGrath may have to wait until training camp for a landing spot, but he's going to be reasonably attractive to teams with depth issues, as he's stuck on the roster in multiple offenses.

29. Brandon Williams

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    NFL1000 Scores 

    Route Running: 11.2/20
    Hands: 13.3 /25
    YAC: 10.5/20
    Blocking: 16.5/25
    Position Value: 6/10
    Overall: 57.5/100

           

    NFL1000 TE Scout Marcus Mosher 

    Brandon Williams has bounced around the NFL and is now on his third team since 2015. Williams is a super-athletic receiving tight end who just hasn’t been able to find a role in the NFL. In 2016, he competed with rookie Nick Vannett for the third tight end spot in Seattle's offense. In four years in the NFL, Williams has played in 45 games but has only caught six passes for 80 yards.

    However, with No. 2 tight end Luke Willson also set to hit the free-agent market, the Seahawks could offer Williams a cheap one-year deal to stay on as the third tight end. Williams isn't a particularly good blocker, but he can be effective as a player who can get in the way in space because of his athletic ability. Williams will turn 30 in October, and his time is running out to be a useful NFL tight end.

     

    Doug's Quick Take

    Williams is good for the occasional flash play in practice, but he hasn't maxed that out in game situations. Depth player only.

28. Logan Paulsen

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    NFL1000 Scores 

    Route Running: 10.9/20
    Hands: 13.1/25
    YAC: 10.4/20
    Blocking: 16.9/25
    Position Value: 6/10
    Overall: 57.3/100

    NFL1000 TE Scout Marcus Mosher

    Logan Paulsen started 12 games for the Bears in 2016 after playing six years with the Washington Redskins. He is a blocker only who saw just 10 targets all year and converted three of them for 15 total yards. He's accumulated just 816 receiving yards since entering the league in 2010.

    Even after starting tight end Zach Miller went down in Week 11, Paulsen failed to register a single catch for the rest of the season.   

    But at 6'5", 268 pounds, Paulsen can serve as an extra inline blocker or on the move. His size and his power allow him to stay on his team's active roster every week. Paulsen is a reliable option as an exclusive blocking third tight end, and teams such as the Oakland Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers may be interested in the soon-to-be 30-year-old from UCLA.     


    Doug's Quick Take

    With more and more teams looking for receiving tight ends, there's still a need for guys who can stay inline and block as part of the offensive line. Paulsen fills that need, which is why he'll land on a roster in 2017.

27. Brandon Myers

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    NFL1000 Scores 

    Route Running: 11.3/20
    Hands: 13.3/25
    YAC: 10.7/20
    Blocking: 16.4/25
    Position Value: 6/10
    Overall: 57.7/100

    NFL1000 TE Scout Marcus Mosher 

    It's been three years since Brandon Myers has eclipsed 200 receiving yards in a single season. Once a nice piece in Oakland and for a year with the New York Giants, Myers has significantly dropped off in terms of his route running and his ability to make plays after the catch. He just doesn't have the speed or the quickness to get open on a regular basis. He was only a blocker in Tampa Bay last season, albeit an average one. The 31-year-old's best football comes when he in can block in space, not inline.


    Doug's Quick Take

    At this point in his career, Myers may struggle to land on a roster. His skill set is too limited.

26. Dominique Jones

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    NFL1000 Scores 

    Route Running: 11.4/20
    Hands: 14.4/25
    YAC: 10.6/20
    Blocking: 16.2/25
    Position Value: 6/10
    Overall: 58.6/100


    NFL1000 TE Scout Mark Schofield 

    Veteran tight end Dominique Jones went undrafted in 2011 after a strong college career at Division II Shepherd University. He began his professional career with the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the United Football League, followed by a stint with the Reading Express of the Indoor Football League.

    Jones bounced around various squads before his second stint with the Dolphins this past season. When Cameron Jordan went down with an injury, Miami signed Jones. 

    The Dolphins' Week 9 contest against the New York Jets provided a glimpse at Jones' ceiling as a tight end. He caught three passes on four targets for 42 yards and a touchdown, his first-ever in the NFL. The scoring play came on a 3rd-and-goal situation at the Jets' 1-yard line; Jones ran a serviceable route and was able to secure the catch in space for the touchdown.

    He has moments where he displays some ability both at the catch point and after the reception, as he did on a fourth-quarter catch-and-run at the 11:54 mark in that Week 9 game. He can also be a consistent blocker. But his best moments bring him to the level of an average to above-average option at the tight end position.

    In Jones and Dion Sims, the Dolphins have two unrestricted free agents at the position. Because of Sims' youth (25 years old) and his ability, Jones might be the one to leave Miami. He would be a depth signing for most NFL teams and could find a home in San Francisco. 


    Doug's Quick Take 

    Jones does have some upside as a receiver, but his run-blocking ability is what teams will find attractive. He'd be best-served in a run-heavy offense that utilizes multiple players at the position.

25. Rhett Ellison

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    NFL1000 Scores 

    Route Running: 11.2/20
    Hands: 13.7/25
    YAC: 10.7/20
    Blocking: 17/25
    Position Value: 6/10
    Overall: 58.6/100

    NFL1000 TE Scout Marcus Mosher 

    Rhett Ellison returned in 2016 from a gruesome patellar tendon injury he suffered during Week 17 of the 2015 campaign. He isn't a receiving threat, as he played 15 games in 2016 and only caught nine passes.

    His best fit is as an H-back who can win on the line of scrimmage or off the line in the slot or backfield. Whenever Ellison is inactive or not in the game, there is a noticeable difference in the Vikings rushing attack. However, his lack of receiving ability makes him a one-dimensional tight end who won't garner a lot of interest in the free-agent market.  

    At 28, Ellison could be someone the Vikings re-sign on a one-year deal. He can contribute on special teams and in multiple ways on offense as a blocker. Or a team that is looking for a reliable H-back, such as Dallas and Washington, could likely get Ellison cheap in the later portions of free agency.

     

    Doug's Quick Take 

    As a run-blocker and yards-after-catch receiver with a high catch rate from short passes, Ellison is a quality option for several NFL teams. 

24. Phillip Supernaw

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    NFL1000 Scores 

    Route Running: 11.4/20
    Hands: 13.6/25
    YAC: 10.6/20
    Blocking: 17.2/25
    Position Value: 6/10
    Overall: 58.9/100

    NFL1000 TE Scout Mark Schofield

    A restricted free agent this offseason, Phillip Supernaw served as the third tight end for the Tennessee Titans in 2016. After bouncing around with the Houston Texans, Baltimore Ravens and Chiefs, Supernaw found a home in Tennessee prior to the 2015 season and appeared in all 16 games, catching three passes on four targets. In the 2016 campaign, he was a reserve behind Delanie Walker and Anthony Fasano, playing in 15 games and catching four passes on five targets for 62 yards.

    As a receiver, Supernaw is limited. He can be effective on quick routes in the flat or curls against underneath zone coverage. His best role is that of a blocker, and his grade on the year is well above average for the tight end position in that trait.

    In a Week 15 win against the Chiefs, he was a very effective blocker, particularly when the Titans used 13 personnel with all three tight ends on the field. Supernaw is also a contributor on special teams, making a tackle on a kickoff in that contest.

    He can also line up in the backfield, as he did in Week 16 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He executed a good lead block from that alignment on the first play of the second quarter, helping DeMarco Murray gain eight yards on a run to the left edge.

    Supernaw is a perfect TE3 for the Titans, given their offensive style of play, and it is likely he remains with them. If he does leave Nashville, the San Francisco 49ers are a potential landing spot, given how new head coach Kyle Shanahan likes to use 13 personnel. Also, depending on how the Chiefs address the tight end position, Kansas City could be a destination.


    Doug's Quick Take

    Agreed that Supernaw is an ideal fit in a multi-TE offensive line like Tennessee's, Atlanta's or San Francisco's. He's a good short-yardage cog in that capacity.

23. Darren Fells

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    NFL1000 Scores 

    Route Running: 11.6/20
    Hands: 13.9/25
    YAC: 11.1/20
    Blocking: 16.3/25
    Position Value: 6/10
    Overall: 58.9/100

    NFL1000 TE Scout Marcus Mosher 

    At 6'7", 281 pounds, Darren Fells is a glorified tackle who will occasionally go out on pass routes. However, he is much more athletic than what his size may suggest. Yearly, Fells makes a few plays in the passing game that make you wonder what his true ceiling is. But in three NFL seasons, Fells has only caught 40 passes in the pass-heavy offense of Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians.

    Fells turns 31 in April, but I suspect Arizona will try to retain the former basketball player from UC Irvine as he enters restricted free agency. Fells is clearly the No. 2 tight end in Arizona, but that might change if Troy Niklas can stay healthy.

    Fells' best fit is in a power-running game on a team that uses multiple tight ends. He would fit in well in Oakland or Tennessee, as both teams use a lot of man-blocking schemes. Fells can be useful in the red zone at times because of his size, but make no mistake—Fells is a blocker first.  


    Doug's Quick Take

    Fells allowed just one pressure in 36 pass-blocking snaps last season, and he's best suited to that role. Anything more than pass-blocking is gravy. 

22. Brandon Bostick

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    NFL1000 Scores 

    Route Running: 11.5/20
    Hands: 14.1/25
    YAC: 10.9/20
    Blocking: 16.9/25
    Position Value: 6/10
    Overall: 59.5/100

    NFL1000 TE Scout Mark Schofield 

    After a strong college career for Division II Newberry College as a wide receiver, Brandon Bostick went undrafted in the 2012 NFL draft. He signed with the Green Bay Packers as a free agent, spending his rookie year on the practice squad. As a second-year player, Bostick earned a spot as the third-string tight end and caught one touchdown pass.

    He is perhaps most known for misplaying an onside kick in the 2015 NFC Championship Game against the Seahawks, allowing Seattle to complete its comeback. After being released by the Packers, Bostick signed with the Vikings and then the Cardinals, but he failed to make either team's roster. He found a home with the Jets this season after being signed to their practice squad in late 2015.

    Bostick is primarily a blocking tight end. The Jets used him sparingly in the passing game this past season; he caught eight passes on 11 targets for only 63 yards. He lined up primarily as an inline tight end but also in the wing and as a fullback on some running plays.

    He was effective at chipping edge-rushers before releasing to the flat, so he provides some help in pass protection. As a run-blocker, Bostick graded above-average this season. He is familiar with both power- and zone-blocking schemes, as well as blocking in the running game from the fullback spot.

    Bostick would be a depth signing for most NFL rosters.

     

    Doug's Quick Take 

    Mostly a blocking tight end, Bostick might be a more efficient receiver in an offense that distributes the ball to the short and intermediate areas in a more accurate fashion than the Jets did in 2016.

21. David Johnson

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    NFL1000 Scores 

    Route Running: 11.6/20
    Hands: 14.3/25
    YAC: 11.1/20
    Blocking: 17.1/25
    Position Value: 6/10
    Overall: 60.1/100

    NFL1000 TE Scout Mark Schofield 

    Selected in the seventh round of the 2009 NFL draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers, David Johnson is on his second stint with the organization. He played in 15 games as a rookie in a reserve role and then in all 16 games with Pittsburgh in his second season. In 2011, he caught his first touchdown pass in a game against the Tennessee Titans.

    But after suffering a torn ACL, Johnson was placed on injured reserve. He then spent some time on the Chargers practice squad before returning to the Steelers on a one-year deal last May.

    Johnson is a blocking tight end for the Steelers, and he is effective in that role. Blocking for Le'Veon Bell can be tough, as his patience as a running back requires his blockers to hold their blocks for extended periods of time. But Johnson scored well above-average in that trait this season.

    In the passing game, Johnson saw only 11 targets in 2016, making seven receptions for 80 yards. He can occupy space underneath or in the flats, and he is able to stay in on passing downs and help with pass protection.

    Depending on the health of Ladarius Green, as well as the contract status of Xavier Grimble, Johnson may remain in Pittsburgh next season and continue his role as a blocking/third tight end. If the Steelers let Johnson leave, he would be a sufficient depth signing for a team like the 49ers that needs to fill that position.

     

    Doug's Quick Take

    Johnson isn't a deep target, but he did display a good sense of routes and openings in Pittsburgh's offense. That and his blocking acumen will make him a desirable target for run-heavy teams. 

20. Kellen Davis

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    NFL1000 Scores 

    Route Running: 12.1/20
    Hands: 14.4/25
    YAC: 11/20
    Blocking: 17/25
    Position Value: 6/10
    Overall: 60.5/100

    NFL1000 TE Scout Mark Schofield 

    Davis was a highly regarded prospect coming out of Michigan State, with great size (6'7", 265 lbs) for the position. At the 2008 NFL Scouting Combine, Davis posted a 4.60-second 40-yard dash, which might have propelled him to a high draft pick.

    But he slid to the fifth round, where the Bears took him at No. 158 overall. With Greg Olsen in front of him, Davis never developed into the player some thought he could become.

    After being released by the Bears, he signed with the Seahawks prior to the 2013 season and earned a Super Bowl ring with Seattle, albeit while serving in a limited role. He signed with the Giants for the 2014 season but was released during final cuts. He was picked up by the Lions and spent the year on the practice squad. Davis then was picked up by the Jets and saw limited action. Last year, he played in eight games but did not tally a reception and was only targeted once.

    Davis is most effective as a blocker, scoring above-average in that category. However, the tight end suffered an elbow injury against the Cleveland Browns and was waived by the Jets. Given his age (31) and the limitations to his game, it is likely Davis is at most a depth signing for any team that picks him up next year.


    Doug's Quick Take 

    Davis could well have to wait for training camp, or an injury, to get his shot to stick on a roster in 2017. Like every other Jets tight end, he was limited by the overall offensive philosophy. 

19. Alex Ellis

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    NFL1000 Scores 

    Route Running: 11.2/20
    Hands: 14.2/25
    YAC: 11.0/20
    Blocking: 17.7/25
    Position Value: 6/10
    Overall: 60.0/100

    NFL1000 TE Scout Mark Schofield 

    Signed by the Tennessee Titans as an undrafted free agent after the 2016 NFL draft, Alex Ellis was claimed off waivers by the Jacksonville Jaguars after the final roster cuts. Ellis was on the practice squad until injuries at the tight end position forced the organization to activate him in November. He appeared in six games for the Jaguars, with only three receptions for a total of 11 yards. As a receiver, Ellis is at best a league-average player who runs OK routes but will not gain separation and does not flash after the catch.

    Jacksonville used him primarily as a blocker, and in that capacity Ellis was strong. He showed some of this ability in Week 16 against the Titans. On a 1st-and-10 play at the 8:59 mark of the second quarter, Ellis executed a strong block on the play-side edge of a run by Chris Ivory. On the next play, Ellis was able to get in front of a tunnel screen to Bryan Walters, helping spring that play for a quick six-yard gain. Later in the same quarter, at the 2:45 mark, Ellis was one of the lead blockers on a running back screen to Ivory that went for 19 yards, showing again his blocking prowess.

    Ellis looks to be a serviceable TE3 who can be counted on as an extra blocker when the offense uses 13 personnel. He will need to refine his pass-catching traits to become more valuable. But given his youth (23), he would be a valuable depth signing for some teams. Because of the season-ending injuries to Marcedes Lewis and Julius Thomas, it is most likely Ellis returns to the Jaguars.

     


    Doug's Quick Take 

    Ellis has potential as a second tight end in offenses with varied route concepts with designed openings and teams that prefer to employ more than one tight end in base formations.

18. Matt Lengel

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    NFL1000 Scores 

    Route Running: 11.3/20
    Hands: 14.5/25
    YAC: 11.0/20
    Blocking: 16.5/25
    Position Value: 6/10
    Overall: 59.3/100

    NFL1000 TE Scout, Mark Schofield 

    Lengel spent his rookie season on the Cincinnati Bengals' practice squad. He went undrafted in 2015 after an interesting college career. Lengel began his collegiate play at Northeastern University in Boston but was allowed to transfer when the school shuttered its football program.

    Lengel transferred to Eastern Kentucky, appearing in 37 games, but suffered two injuries to his right knee, including an ACL tear. He was waived by the Bengals at the start of the 2016 season. But when the Patriots lost both Rob Gronkowski and Greg Scruggs to injury, he was added to their roster near the end of the season.

    Lengel appeared in the final six regular-season games for the Patriots, and during that stretch he saw only three targets. He did catch one of those for an 18-yard score against the New York Jets. On that play, he ran a seam route and was able to secure the catch at the goal line in a contested-catch situation.

    He has been used primarily as an extra blocker or to spell Martellus Bennett for a play or two. In that Jets game, he saw a decent number of snaps (24) and executed some solid blocks on the edge in power schemes.

    Depending on the health of Gronkowski and the contract status of Bennett, Lengel likely returns to New England as a depth piece, given his status as an exclusive-rights free agent. If he leaves New England, some potential landing spots include the Tennessee Titans, Atlanta Falcons or San Francisco 49ers.

     


    Doug's Quick Take 

    When Gronkowski suffered his season-ending back injury, the Patriots scrapped the 2TE model and added receivers to their passing formations. Thus, we haven't seen a ton of what Lengel can do on a consistent basis. However, he's been dynamic on special teams, and the Patriots always appreciate that.

17. Erik Swoope

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    NFL1000 Scores 

    Route Running: 11.9/20
    Hands: 14.4/25
    YAC: 10.7/20
    Blocking: 16.1/25
    Position Value: 6/10
    Overall: 59.1/100

    NFL1000 TE Scout Mark Schofield 

    In the mold of Jimmy Graham and Antonio Gates, Erik Swoope decided to pursue professional football after a collegiate career in basketball. While at the University of Miami, Swoope was a reserve power forward for the Hurricanes, appearing in 110 games and making 27 starts over four years.

    He went undrafted in 2014 (NFL), and the Colts signed him as a free agent. After spending the bulk of two years on the practice squad, he was elevated to the active-duty roster in the final weeks of the 2015 season.

    This year, Swoope finished training camp as the third tight end on the roster and appeared in all 16 games. Down the stretch, he became more of a factor in the passing game and enjoyed his best statistical performance against the Vikings in Week 15 (50 yards and a touchdown).

    The score came on a wheel route, where he was lined up as an inline tight end but was able to get separation on the downfield route. That game against Minnesota also showed his versatility at the tight end spot, as he lined up in the backfield, on the line and split out wide.

    Swoope is a good TE3 option for the Colts, with the ability to be a factor as a receiver or a blocker. Given he is an exclusive-rights free agent, he likely returns to Indianapolis. He has the potential to develop into a solid TE2 option for some teams, but with both Jack Doyle and Dwayne Allen in front of him, that may not happen in Indianapolis.

    If he does move, the Miami Dolphins could be a good landing spot.

     


    Doug's Quick Take 

    The Colts threw deep passes to their tight ends just 14 times last season, and Swoope led all three tight ends with 72 yards on just two catches. He could flourish in that role if given more of an opportunity.

16. Levine Toilolo

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    NFL1000 Scores 

    Route Running: 11.4/20
    Hands: 13.6/25
    YAC: 11.1/20
    Blocking: 18.2/25
    Position Value: 6/10
    Overall: 60.3/100

    NFL1000 TE Scout Marcus Mosher 

    By all accounts, Levine Toilolo was on the roster bubble back in August. With Jacob Tamme set as the starter, Toilolo was competing with Joshua Perkins and Arthur Lynch for the third tight end spot behind Tamme and rookie Austin Hooper. But Tamme eventually was lost for the season due to injury and Hooper wasn’t quite ready to take the starting role. Toilolo finished the season with the most snaps out of all the tight ends with 572, compared to 400 for Hooper.

    Toilolo is a massive target at 6'8", 265 pounds, but he has never been able to translate that size into much success in the receiving game. Toilolo managed to catch only 13 passes all year for 264 yards and two touchdowns. He’s too big and athletic to only have six career touchdowns in four years.

    Where Toilolo made strides in 2016 was in his blocking. He found a role as an edge-blocker on the line of scrimmage in Kyle Shanahan's zone-blocking offense. He’s not a dominant run-blocker by any means, but he can be useful in this area.

    At just 25, it wouldn’t shock me if Toilolo got a few looks in free agency. He can contribute in the run game, and his size and athletic ability will have some coaches believing they can get more out of him.

    Toilolo’s hands are reliable (no drops in 2016), and he's also a player who can be used on special teams (133 snaps in 2016). Toilolo best fits as a TE3 in a zone-blocking offense, such as Washington, Dallas or back in Atlanta.

     


    Doug's Quick Take 

    Toilolo had one big touchdown catch against the Seahawks in the regular season against blown coverage, but his primary function in Atlanta's offense was to run pre-snap motion to create openings and help reveal coverages.

    Kyle Shanahan might want him doing the same thing in San Francisco. However, his pass blocking is a clear issue. 

15. Mychal Rivera

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    NFL1000 Scores 

    Route Running: 12.0/20
    Hands: 14.8/25
    YAC: 10.8/20
    Blocking: 16.5/25
    Position Value: 6/10
    Overall: 60.1/100

    NFL1000 TE Scout Mark Schofield 

    After a strong career at the University of Tennessee, Mychal Rivera was drafted in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL draft by the Oakland Raiders. He immediately secured the backup tight end spot as a rookie and has been in that spot for the Raiders the past four seasons. While he has enjoyed a solid NFL career, with additions to the roster such as Lee Smith and Clive Walford, it would seem Rivera’s best chance to emerge as a true TE1 would be with another organization.

    His best statistical season came in 2014, when he caught 58 passes on 101 targets for 534 yards and four touchdowns. By comparison, Rivera saw only 25 targets (over 13 games) this season, with 18 receptions for 192 yards and a touchdown.

    When utilized as a receiver, Rivera can be effective. He has the athletic ability to challenge secondary defenders on downfield routes such as seam routes, but he's athletic enough to be effective underneath against linebackers on option or crossing routes. Teams that rely on a tight end to occupy the middle of the field (such as Green Bay) might consider Rivera.

    As a blocker, Rivera is solid. He was effective on the edges in both power and zone design and could be considered an option for Denver, as he can be effective in a zone-heavy scheme as well. 

     


    Doug's Quick Take 

    With more and more teams looking for tight ends who can win on intermediate and deep seam routes, Rivera is an interesting player. As Oakland's passing offense expands, he might do well to take a hometown discount.

14. John Phillips

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    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    NFL1000 Scores 

    Route Running: 12.6/20
    Hands:14.6/25
    YAC: 11.1/20
    Blocking: 17.8/25
    Position Value: 6/10
    Overall: 62.2/100

    NFL1000 TE Scout Mark Schofield 

    After a career at the University of Virginia that saw him become an All-ACC selection as a senior, John Phillips was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the sixth round of the 2009 NFL draft and made the roster as a reserve tight end. As he displayed this season with first the Broncos and then the Saints, Phillips is a versatile player who is perhaps best suited as a blocking tight end.

    In the passing game, Phillips is an effective outlet or checkdown receiver. He can find space underneath against zone coverage and can operate in the flats. He is also effective at chipping defenders and then releasing into a route, so he has value in the pass-protection game as well. His best statistical game in 2016 was against the Chargers, where he caught three passes for 31 yards. But his primary role is as a blocker.

    Phillips can work in both zone or power run-blocking schemes, and this coupled with his versatility makes him a depth option for most teams. Depending on how rosters shake out, he might find a home next season in Tennessee, San Francisco or with the Cleveland Browns.

     


    Doug's Quick Take 

    Phillips is not a deep receiver of any stripe, but he is a quality inline blocker.

13. Larry Donnell

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    Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

    NFL1000 Scores 

    Route Running: 13.1/20
    Hands: 15.3/25
    YAC: 11.3/20
    Blocking: 17.3/25
    Position Value: 6/10
    Overall: 62.7/100

    NFL1000 TE Scout Marcus Mosher 

    Larry Donnell wasn’t heavily used in 2016 as he was in 2014 and 2015. Donnell only logged 212 snaps this season for the Giants, as there were games where he was a healthy inactive. Donnell’s snaps have decreased each of the last three seasons; he was once a big part of the Giants’ receiving game.

    Donnell caught 15 passes in 2016 for only 92 yards. He is a big target at 6'6", 265 pounds and can be a useful inside blocker at times.

    At 28, it seems likely the Giants will move on from Donnell as Will Tye and rookie Jerell Adams consistently out-snapped him on a weekly basis. But because of his experience and his ability to contribute in the running game, it’s likely some team will scoop up Donnell as its third tight end.

    However, teams need to be aware of Donnell’s concussion history and his serious neck injury in 2015.

     


    Doug's Quick Take 

    Donnell can still make hay on the occasional deep route, and if he stays healthy, he could find a statistical rebirth in an offense more well-rounded than the one designed by Ben McAdoo.

12. Anthony Fasano

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    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    NFL1000 Scores 

    Route Running: 11.7/20
    Hands: 14.4/25
    YAC: 11/20
    Blocking: 18.3/25
    Position Value: 6/10
    Overall: 61.4/100

    NFL1000 TE Scout Mark Schofield 

    Anthony Fasano first came on the scene with the Miami Dolphins as part of their Wildcat attack and was effective in that role. The past two seasons with the Titans, he has served as more of a blocking tight end, while Delanie Walker handles the majority of targets at the position.

    In that role as a blocker, Fasano was effective. He can handle both zone- and power-blocking schemes, including making some good reach blocks on defensive ends. He was also adept at executing slice blocks to the backside on split zone designs.

    In the passing game, Fasano has capable hands and runs decent routes in the quick game. He was limited to only 83 receiving yards on the year, despite appearing in all 16 games, but he managed to catch two touchdown passes. This is more a factor of scheme and usage by the Titans than it is a reflection of Fasano's ability. In the right system, he can still be an effective receiving threat.

    If Fasano is not re-signed, some potential suitors include the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos. Fasano would fit in with the zone-blocking scheme of the Broncos and could add some depth behind Travis Kelce in Kansas City.


    Doug's Quick Take

    There aren't many tight ends on the market who can do everything required of the position at an above-average level, and that's what makes Fasano interesting. He does well in the short-to-intermediate passing game, blocks well and can get open on the occasional deep route.

11. Luke Willson

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    NFL1000 Scores 

    Route Running: 12.6/20
    Hands: 14.5/25
    YAC: 12/20
    Blocking: 17.3/25
    Position Value: 6/10
    Overall: 62.4/100

    NFL1000 TE Scout Marcus Mosher 

    Luke Willson has always been an enigma in Seattle. He can make incredible plays in both the passing and running game, and his athletic ability is easy to see. But in four years in Seattle, Wilson was never able to top 400 receiving yards. 2016 was his worst statistical season as he only caught 15 passes for 129 yards.

    When the Seahawks selected Nick Vannett from Ohio State in the third round in the 2016 draft, the writing was on the wall for Willson. Willson was mainly used as a blocker in 2016, but that’s not where his strength is. He’s much better when he’s a receiving option out of the slot, matched up against linebackers. His ability to make plays down the field has always been a strength as he can be a true seam-ripper in the right situations.    

    Willson is a fantastic athlete with great size at 6'5", 252 pounds who runs in the 4.5 range. Teams that love to collect athletes such as the Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals might be interested in Willson. He also has experience as a willing blocker.

     


    Doug's Quick Take 

    In a system with more expansive concepts, Willson could be a No. 1 tight end. Consider that the Seahawks still haven't figured out how to use Jimmy Graham and you get an idea of what Willson could do in the right offense. He might be the steal of this free-agent class.

10. Jermaine Gresham

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    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 12.6/20
    Hands: 14.9/25
    YAC: 11.6/20
    Blocking: 16.3/25
    Position Value: 6/10
    Overall: 61.3/100

          

    NFL1000 TE Scout Marcus Moshe

    Gresham will turn 29 before the 2017 season, and it's obvious he has fallen off. Despite playing over 800 snaps in Bruce Arians' pass-first offense, Gresham was only able to catch 37 passes for 391 yards and two touchdowns, despite seeing more than 60 targets. That's the reason why Gresham was on the field, as he struggled mightily as a blocker.

    After starting off the season strong, Gresham became a liability in the run game and was forced off the field for Darren Fells in run situations. The veteran doesn't have the athleticism to block linebackers or the strength to handle defensive linemen on the edge. Gresham was a better blocker in 2015, so it's fair to wonder if a knee issue that bothered him for most of the year was a factor.

    The lack of explosiveness as a receiver combined with his struggles as a blocker hurt his value on the open market. Ideally, Gresham will find a home as a No. 2 to a well-rounded No. 1 who can handle all of the blocking duties, both on the line of scrimmage and in the slot.

    Gresham is a declining player with little upside, but teams looking for a veteran presence may be interested in the Oklahoma product. Look for Gresham to return to the Cardinals on a cheap deal or sign with a team in the deeper portions of free agency.

                      

    Doug's Quick Take

    He's not a great blocker, and he doesn't test defenses deep, but if you're looking for a tight end who can get open underneath on a consistent basis, Gresham is a decent option.

9. Dion Sims

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 12.4/20
    Hands:15.4/25
    YAC: 11.2/20
    Blocking: 18.0/25
    Position Value: 6/10
    Overall: 63.0/100 

         

    NFL1000 TE Scout, Mark Schofield

    Dion Sims might be one of the more intriguing options at the tight end position this offseason. Drafted in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL draft after a good career at Michigan State, the soon-to-be 26-year-old has been the backup tight end for the Dolphins since his rookie season.

    Prior to this past season, his best statistical season was 2014, when he caught 24 passes (on 36 targets) for 284 yards and a pair of touchdowns. After a down year in 2015, Sims matched those numbers in 2016, catching 26 passes (on 35 targets) for 256 yards and four touchdowns.

    While he was not a focal point of Miami's passing game, given the trio of wide receivers, Sims is an effective weapon in the aerial attack. He can run a variety of routes and is a sure-handed receiver in the passing game. He can run good routes even when tasked with chipping edge-rushers on the outside and shows awareness in the scramble drill.

    In addition to his skills in the passing game, he is a strong blocker, with one of the higher grades in that category among all NFL1000 tight ends. He can line up on the line, in the wing or even in the backfield, and he is proficient on both zone- or power-blocking designs.

    Because of his relative youth and versatility, Sims is an interesting name to watch this offseason. He might not be ready to assume the role of No. 1 tight end for a team, but he is a strong candidate for a No. 2 on most NFL rosters.

    Teams like the Los Angeles Chargers, Tennessee Titans or Cleveland Browns are options.

                     

    Doug's Quick Take

    Sims was the most prominent tight end in Miami's passing offense last season, and he could serve in that capacity for most offenses. His only liability is pass blocking, but he's strong in the run game, and he can get downfield in a variety of route concepts. 

8. Will Tye

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 13.3/20
    Hands: 16.5/25
    YAC: 12.4/20
    Blocking: 17.1/25
    Position Value: 6/10
    Overall: 65.3/100 

          

    NFL1000 TE Scout Marcus Mosher

    Will Tye beat out Larry Donnell for the right to be the Giants' starting tight end, but he failed to impress in 2016. Tye played 681 snaps for the Giants this year but failed to eclipse 400 receiving yards and only produced one touchdown.

    At only 6'2", Tye struggles in line as a blocker. As the season wore on, he became a liability as a blocker and was forced to block mostly in space and out of the slot. Where Tye wins is in the middle of the field with his hands; he only had a 2.9 percent drop rate, according to my charting. Tye does possess the ability to get open easily, especially on option routes in the middle of the field. But he lacks the elite athletic ability to make plays after the catch and scare defenses vertically.  

    Tye is only 25 and is expected to be retained by the Giants, as he is an exclusive-rights free agent. However, it's clear the team needs to upgrade this position, and that may force Jerell Adams to see more snaps as the No. 1. If Tye were to hit free agency, I wouldn't expect to see him garner much interest. He is average at best and doesn't offer anything in the run game.

    Teams such as the Packers, Dolphins and Jets may be interested in him as a receiving threat.

             

    Doug's Quick Take

    Tye was targeted five times on deep passes last season and caught none of them. Whether that's the fault of Tye or Eli Manning or both is open to conjecture. But he's an excellent blocker and a good short-to-intermediate receiver.

7. Ryan Griffin

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    Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 13.3/20
    Hands: 16.4/25
    YAC: 11.5/20
    Blocking: 17.4/25
    Position Value: 6/10
    Overall: 64.7/100

             

    NFL1000 TE Scout Mark Schofield

    Ryan Griffin was drafted in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL draft by the Texans and has been a part of their offense ever since. He enjoyed his best statistical season in 2016, putting up career highs in targets (74), receptions (50), receiving yards (442) and first downs (19), according to SportingCharts.com.

    Griffin is an effective weapon in the passing game and can get separation on his routes. Standing at 6'6", 265 pounds, he has the size and frame to be effective over the middle, particularly against safeties in Cover 2 schemes with his ability to shield off smaller defenders.

    As a blocker, Griffin is also effective, and his blocking grade for the season is above average for the position. He can align in the wing, in the slot or as an in-line tight end. As a receiver, he has shown the ability to make tough adjustments to passes and has a good catch radius, something he displayed in Week 15 against Jacksonville. That Week 15 contest was his best of the season, as he caught all eight targets for 85 yards and even flashed some ability after the catch.

    As an unrestricted free agent, Griffin is an intriguing option for a few clubs. The Texans might want to keep him, but with C.J. Fiedorowicz and Stephen Anderson, they have two similar tight ends under contract. Some potential landing spots are the Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns or New England Patriots.

         

    Doug's Quick Take

    Griffin was by far the Texans' most targeted tight end on deep passes in 2016, but he caught just two passes on nine targets. That has far more to do with Brock Osweiler's glaring inaccuracy than Griffin's performance.

    Griffin is also a compelling slot target and a fine blocker. He'll do well in whatever offense he's in, given the right opportunity. 

6. Jacob Tamme

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 13.4/20
    Hands: 16/25
    YAC: 12.1/20
    Blocking: 17.4/25
    Position Value: 6/10
    Overall: 64.9/100

            

    NFL1000 TE Scout Marcus Mosher

    The soon-to-be 32-year-old Jacob Tamme missed the second half of the season due to shoulder injury that he suffered in Week 8 against the Packers. But even before the injury, it was evident there wasn't much left in the tank. After only catching 22 passes for 210 yards in the first half of the season, Tamme was beginning to get outsnapped by rookie tight end Austin Hooper for the second tight end spot.

    Most of Tamme's production came in the first two weeks of the season with game lines of 6-51 and 5-75-1. As the season went along, Levine Toilolo and Hooper started to steal snaps from Tamme, as he wasn't a reliable enough weapon in the receiving game to outweigh his lack of strength in the running game.

    When healthy, Tamme is a reliable receiver who excels out of the slot. Built like a big receiver at 6'3", 230 pounds, Tamme knows how to use his body to box out smaller safeties and linebackers, especially in the red zone. However, after age and injuries, it's clear Tamme no longer has the athleticism to run by defenders as he did in Indianapolis.

    Teams that are looking for a slot tight end or a veteran presence may be interested in Tamme's services, but don't expect anyone to be calling his name early on in free agency. He will likely have to wait on an injury to get a deal.

                 

    Doug's Quick Take

    Tamme is no longer a deep target, but he's a reliable target who doesn't drop passes, will run the correct route and give maximum effort as a blocker. He's a professional who would improve any offense.

5. Vernon Davis

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    NFL1000 Scores 

    Route Running: 14.1/20
    Hands: 15.5/25
    YAC: 12.9/20
    Blocking: 17.6/25
    Position Value: 6/10
    Overall: 66.0/100 

         

    NFL1000 TE Scout Marcus Mosher

    Once regarded as the best tight end prospect to ever enter the NFL draft, Vernon Davis is clearly in his last years of his career. However, he had a nice bounce-back year with the Washington Redskins in 2016. Davis had more catches, receiving yards and touchdowns in the past season than he had in season since 2013. His route running and athleticism allow him to get open against linebackers, and he can still rip open a seam from time to time.

    But the problem for Davis has always been the same. His inconsistency from game to game and snap to snap is maddening. He can make the impossible look possible as he made some incredible catches this past year, but the drops have always been a problem.

    Teams looking for an athletic tight end who can somewhat contribute in the running game in the form of an H-back may include the Dallas Cowboys, Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots. However, Davis' most likely scenario is that he ends up back in Washington, playing the important role of Jordan Reed's backup.

               

    Doug's Quick Take

    Davis is a tremendous athlete who must be specifically managed in a system. As a blocker and deep target, he can be dynamic. But his route running and focus can be called into question, and it's that frustrating inconsistency that has kept him from the top tier of his position.

    At this point in his career, the Vernon Davis you see is the Vernon Davis you get.

4. Jack Doyle

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    Tom Dahlin/Getty Images

    NFL1000 Scores 

    Route Running: 13.4/20
    Hands: 17.1/25
    YAC: 11.8/20
    Blocking: 18.2/25
    Position Value: 6/10
    Overall: 66.5/100 

          

    NFL1000 TE Scout Mark Schofield

    Jack Doyle enjoyed the best season of his career in 2016, appearing in all 16 games with 14 starts and catching 59 passes for 584 yards and five touchdowns. Despite the presence of Dwayne Allen, Doyle emerged as the top tight end option for the Colts and was used in a variety of ways.

    Doyle lined up as an in-line tight end, on the wing and even in the backfield as a fullback or upback, and he was effective in each role or alignment. His NFL1000 grade this season put him in the top 20 of all tight ends.

    Doyle ran effective routes for the Colts, including outs, options, stick routes, crossing routes or seam routes. He was able to get separation from most defenders and has the footwork and upper-body strength to work off most jams at or near the line of scrimmage.

    He was strong at the catch point as well, winning in many contested-throw situations and not committing many drops. His strength for the Colts was as a blocker, and this was a focal part of the Indianapolis running attack.

    Given that Doyle is only 26 years old, it is likely the Colts bring him back on a longer-term deal. But if the Colts let him walk, his versatility makes him an attractive option for the New England Patriots (depending on the status of Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett) or Tennessee Titans.

                    

    Doug's Quick Take

    I remember watching Doyle at his Senior Bowl and wondering why more people weren't talking about this big kid running routes perfectly. It's good to see him find some success, and in an offense friendlier to tight ends, he'd find a lot more.  

3. Jared Cook

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 13.8/20
    Hands: 15.9/25
    YAC: 13.3/20
    Blocking: 17/25
    Position Value: 6/10
    Overall: 66/100 

               

    NFL1000 TE Scout Marcus Mosher

    Jared Cook's season in Green Bay was a roller coaster. In the first 14 weeks of the NFL1000, Cook never finished inside of the top 10. But he finished the year strong with five straight games inside the top 10.

    Cook's season was a lot like his last performance of the year versus Atlanta: The peaks were high, but the valleys were lower. He is a receiving tight end who was once dubbed an "elite athlete" at the tight end position.

    But Cook will be 30 in April, and his athleticism is fading. His hands have always been inconsistent, but he only "dropped" five balls on 5 targets in the 2016 regular season (He did drop three balls on 31 targets in the playoffs, however). His limited catch radius and inconsistencies as a route-runner make him a difficult player to evaluate. It's easy to see the talent and why teams have continued to give him opportunities, but he's not someone you can rely on in the normal flow of an offense. Cook is a try-hard blocker, but it's not a strength.

    Ideally, it makes sense for both parties if Cook returns to Green Bay, but teams looking for a receiving tight end may be interested in his services. Cook makes sense for Pittsburgh if the Steelers decide to part ways with Ladarius Green or a team such as the Giants, who need a more consistent threat in the middle of the field.   

             

    Doug's Quick Take

    Cook benefited from two things in 2016: He wasn't with the Rams anymore, and the Packers knew how to use him. He is great in route concepts that create designed openings.

    If you send him on a crosser or a pick route, he'll sell it well and find space. He's not a top-tier tight end, but he'll benefit any team with expansive routes because he understands how to run them. 

2. Cameron Brate

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    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 14.3/20
    Hands: 17.1/25
    YAC: 13.1/20
    Blocking: 16.9/25
    Position Value: 6/10
    Overall: 67.4/100 

               

    NFL1000 TE Scout Marcus Mosher

    Cameron Brate is a former undrafted free agent who signed with the Buccaneers in 2014 as a role player behind Austin Seferian-Jenkins. After outperforming Seferian-Jenkins in camp and early during the year, Brate became a nice piece for the Buccaneers offense, especially in the red zone.

    Brate's ability to win in contested areas of the field and his toughness make him an ideal player when facing Cover 2 defenses. He's not afraid to use his body to absorb contact and still make a play on the ball. Most teams are forced to bracket or double Mike Evans, allowing Brate to pick apart single coverage.

    Brate is a large target at 6'5", and he's a plus athlete for the position. Weighing in at only 235 pounds, he's a mismatch for slower linebackers and safeties. 

    Brate is an exclusive-rights free agent and will be back with Tampa Bay. However, if he were to hit free agency, many teams would be after him as a receiving tight end who is useful in the running game. Teams like Green Bay and Indianapolis who rely on their tight ends to beat Cover 2 defenses would love to have a player such as Brate. 

                   

    Doug's Quick Take

    Brate stood out in 2016 as a player who could win in contested coverage, and you can bet he'll continue to be a dynamic red-zone target. The Buccaneers will likely benefit from that in 2017, and other teams will start to get vocal after that if Tampa Bay doesn't lock him up on a long-term deal.

    Brate is strong enough to beat double coverage, and he's determined in yards-after-catch situations.  

1. Martellus Bennett

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    Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 14.2/20
    Hands: 17.5/25
    YAC: 13.1/20
    Blocking: 18.2/25
    Position Value: 6/10
    Overall: 68.9/100

         

    NFL1000 TE Scout Mark Schofield

    Signed by the Patriots last offseason, Bennett played a bigger role than many expected for New England this year. When the Patriots lost tight end Rob Gronkowski for the season after Week 12, Bennett carried the load.

    He was an effective weapon in short-yardage situations and in the red zone, and he was a component of the dangerous New England play-action passing attack. He ran solid routes throughout the year and was generally consistent at the catch point.

    Bennett was hampered by a lower-leg injury for much of the season, which severely limited his ability after the catch. Even with this injury, he was an effective blocker for the Patriots in the run game and when asked to protect the passer, as he did in the AFC Championship Game on Tom Brady's flea-flicker touchdown pass to Chris Hogan.

    With the injury history of Gronkowski, the Patriots likely try to re-sign Bennett in the offseason, giving them another tight end on the roster familiar with the offense. Should they fail to bring Bennett back, a few potential suitors would be the New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns.

          


    Doug's Quick Take

    The two-tight end dominance the Patriots hoped for with Gronkowski and Bennett was scuttled by injuries, but Bennett got to show enough of what he can do. He's long been one of the better blocking tight ends in the league and can line up anywhere in the formation and run any route. He's a good deep target outside or in the slot.

    The Patriots would be foolish to let him go, and the Patriots aren't often foolish. If Gronk makes a healthy return, linebackers and safeties around the NFL are on alert. 

    All advanced statistics courtesy of Pro Football Focus.