2011 NFL Draft: Ranking the Top Tight End Prospects in College Football

Keet Bailey@@KeetBaileyCorrespondent IINovember 30, 2010

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 03: Kyle Rudolph #9 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish runs onto the field with teammates before a game against the Washington Huskies on October 3, 2009 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated Washington 37-30 in overtime. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The key to many offenses in the NFL is a tight end that can do it all. Every team looks for that special player that can block when needed and catch the ball all over the field, and there’s no better to discover that new tight end sensation than in the NFL Draft.

There are different types of tight ends as most of them aren’t proficient in every aspect of the game. Some teams have a tight end they use solely for blocking purposes, and some of them have pass catching tight ends that can make plays in the middle of the field, and sometimes even line up as a split end or slot receiver to create a mismatch.

Here at NFL Soup, we give you the top tight end prospects for the 2011 NFL Draft.

1) Kyle Rudolph- Notre Dame*- 6’6 260

It’s tough to question Rudolph’s ability, as he’s one of the most athletic tight ends in all of college football. While he’s not the fastest tight end, he does have solid speed for a guy his size, but his best asset is his hands. He’s very reliable all over the field, and runs routes like a wide receiver. A season ending hamstring injury cut his junior campaign short, but in a weak tight end class, he could still come out and be the first tight end off of the board. Projection: Second Round

2) Lance Kendricks- Wisconsin- 6’4 240

Kendricks is another athletic tight end in this draft class who has a lot of experience in Wisconsin. Kendricks has good ability to run after the catch, and has reliable hands. He doesn’t see as many receptions as he’d like as the Badgers aren’t a huge passing team, but he makes plays when his number is called. Projection: Second

3) D.J. Williams- Arkansas- 6’2 250

If you haven’t noticed, the trend here is athleticism among the tight ends, and it doesn’t stop here. Williams is a better receiving tight end in the middle of the field, and is a surprisingly good deep option. He can also run after the catch, and has been a big reason for Mallett’s success. He could get separation better in the red zone, but he’s an efficient blocker as well. Projection: Third

4) Luke Stocker- Tennessee- 6’6 253

Stocker is a big, physical tight end that can do it all. He’s excellent in the middle of the field, he has the ability to get behind the linebackers and make key catches, and he’s a tough blocker. His lack of overall speed makes him slightly less coveted than some of the other tight ends in the draft class, but he’s a hard working, lunch pail type of player who gives his best effort on every play. Projection: Third

5) Mike McNeil- Nebraska-  6’4 237

McNeil is a smaller, quicker tight end who can make plays down the field with his speed. His hands are questionable at times as he often catches the ball with his body. McNeil is good at getting separation in the middle of the field, and can turn up the field quickly, making defenders miss. Projection: Third

6) David Paulson- Oregon*- 6’4 240

I don’t see Paulson coming out early, but if he does, he could be highly coveted due to his athletic ability in the open field. He’s one of the best tight ends after the catch, and often plays like a wide receiver. He generally lines up in the slot, and uses his big body as a mismatch over nickel backs, as he’s too fast for a linebacker to cover. Paulson could easily make it in the second round, but he should stay in school for his senior season. Projection: Third

7) Rob Housler- Florida Atlantic- 6’5 215

Housler is one of my favorite tight ends in the draft. While his size mimics more of a wide receiver, he’s very physical when being defended. Housler often uses his speed and excellent route running to separate from starting cornerbacks as he can line up at split end as well. He’s a threat to take the play to the end zone after the catch on every touch, and should move up draft boards. Projection: Fourth

8 ) Cameron Graham- Louisville- 6’4 255

The knock on Graham is his athleticism, although for a bigger guy, he’s not terribly slow. He’s best on third downs, using his reliable hands to make big time catches. He won’t burn anybody down the field, but he’ll eat up the middle of the field and could be an asset in the West Coast Offense. Projection: Fourth

9) George Bryan- NC State*- 6’5 265

Bryan may be one of the best red zone tight ends in the nation. His hands are like glue, and he catches the ball at its highest point. His big frame makes him hard to jam off of the line, and he is very efficient in short yardage situations. He’s not the fastest tight end, but there’s a lot to be said for a player that can catch almost everything thrown his way. Projection: Fourth

10) Weslye Saunders- South Carolina- 6’5 275

Saunders is a big body with very good hands. Saunders is an efficient blocker as well, but hasn’t played in 2010 after being dismissed by Steve Spurrier. Projection: Fifth

11) Coby Fleener- Stanford*- 6’6 248

Fleener has been a nice red zone option for Andrew Luck, and has the ability to make plays after the catch as well. He has above average hands, but isn’t the best blocking tight end. Projection: Fifth

12) Lee Smith- Marshall- 6’6 265

Smith is a heavily utilized tight end who makes his name in the short-intermediate routes in the middle of the field. He does a nice job capping the end in blocking situations, and gets a good release off of the line. Projection: Fifth

13) Schuylar  Oordt- Northern Iowa- 6’7 245

Oordt is a big time pass catching tight end who is very quick for his size. He makes plays down field consistently, and often plays like a wide receiver. His big play ability could make him a higher draft pick. Projection: Sixth

14) Ben Guidugli- Cincinnati- 6’1 230

The agile tight end plays more like a wide receiver, and doesn’t have excellent size. He may be best as a wide receiver at the next level, although he doesn’t have wide receiver speed. He makes tough catches down field and has been reliable for Cincinnati. Projection: Seventh

15) Charlie Gantt- Michigan State- 6’5 260

Gantt’s calling is as a blocking tight end at the next level, although he can surprise you and make a play down field. His upside is limited, but he is one of the best blocking tight ends in the nation. Projection: Seventh

16) Zack Pianalto- North Carolina- 6’4 252

Pianalto has been very efficient in the middle of the field for North Carolina. He doesn’t see many red zone looks, but he has deep play ability and can get behind the linebackers and get separation. Projection: Seventh

17) Jeffery Anderson- UAB- 6’3 255

Anderson doesn’t get much attention down at UAB, but he makes plays all over the field. He’s started games since his freshman year, and broke out in 2008 and hasn’t slowed down since. He’ll make a pass happy team very happy with his athletic ability and great hands. Projection: Seventh

18) Preston Dial- Alabama- 6’3 236

Dial is a big time run blocking tight end. Despite not being a bigger tight end, he’s not quite as athletic as we’d like to see, but he does possess good skills in red zone.

19) Alston Umuolo- San Diego State- 6’4 250

Umuolo started 2010 off on the Mackey Award list, but has struggled with a hip injury in his senior season. Umuolo is a nice pass catcher over the middle of the field and is fairly athletic, showing good speed, despite a big frame.

20) Anthony Miller- Cal*- 6’3 261

Miller is a raw tight end who hasn’t seen as many receptions in 2010 thanks in part to struggling quarterback play in Cal. Miller possesses nice hands, but he’s an even better blocker. He will most likely stay for his senior season.

21) Stephen Skelton- Fordham- 6’5 250

22) Konrad Reuland- Stanford- 6’6 256

23) Virgil Green- Nevada- 6’5 245

24) Kyle Adams- Purdue- 6’4 250

25) Joe Torchia- Virginia- 6’6 264

26) Eric Peitz- Colorado State

27) Richard Gordon- Miami (Fl.)- 6’4 265

28) Greg Smith- Texas- 6’4 250

29) Martell Webb- Michigan- 6’4 268

Be sure to visit NFLSoup. com for all of your 2011 NFL Draft coverage! 

Follow us on Twitter at   @NFLSoup  @NFLSoupTaylor  @NFLSoupKeet and   @NFLSoup_Kevin.


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