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Top 5 tight end prospects for 2013 NFL draft

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Top 5 tight end prospects for 2013 NFL draft

By Russ Lande | National Football Post

As tight ends like Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham and Antonio Gates continue to make big plays and change games, NFL teams work harder to find the next premier tight end. The ability to create great mismatches with a big, athletic tight end enables good offensive coordinators to open up the entire field, which creates space for all the other receiving options. The success of Gates and Graham also has teams spending additional time trying to find the next college basketball player to convert to tight end. Below is a breakdown of the top five tight ends in the country as of today.

1. Zack Ertz, Jr., Stanford
6-foot-6, 252 pounds, 4.65 40 time, projected first-round pick

One part of Stanford's rare three-headed tight end monster in 2011, Ertz has come into his own with his best season in 2012. A smooth and fluid athlete, Ertz gets in and out of his cuts easier/sharper than current Indianapolis Colt Coby Fleener did and has the speed to make plays after the catch. A sure-handed receiver, Ertz's consistently catches the ball cleanly and gets it tucked away quickly so that he can get started up the field fast after the catch. As he displayed in Stanford's win over Oregon, he has the hands, body control and concentration to catch off-target passes with surprising ease. While he lacks the bulk/strength to physically dominate as a blocker, he consistently competes hard and is able to shield off defenders. Ertz has the talent to be a productive receiving tight end in the NFL, which is why he will likely be a second-round pick if he declares for the 2013 draft.

Tyler Eifert catches a touchdown over Kevin Johnson in last Saturday's win over Wake Forest. (Getty Images)

2. Tyler Eifert, Sr., Notre Dame
6-6, 4.65, projected first-round pick

Tyler Eifert catches a touchdown over Kevin Johnson in last Saturday's win over Wake Forest. (Getty Images)Typical of many Notre Dame players, Eifert is a fourth-year senior who has not officially redshirted yet and could choose to apply for a redshirt for his freshmen season in order to return to school for the 2013 college season, although I doubt he will. While he does not explode off the ball into a route, he gets to full speed fast and has the playing speed to make big plays down the field. Not only fast, Eifert's smooth athleticism helps him to run sharp and precise routes to create separation from defenders. Natural hands, body control and concentration allow him to make tough catches consistently. An added bonus is that Eifert is a good, competitive blocker who gets after defenders quickly and is consistently able to keep his man out of the play.

3. Levine Toilolo, Jr., Stanford
6-8, 265, 4.85, projected second-round pick

Unlike teammate and fellow tight end Ertz, Toilolo is an extremely tall and thickly built tight end whose combination of blocking and receiving skills is unmatched in this year's tight end class. Toilolo can be a dominant side/angle blocker who can collapse a side of the defensive line in order to open holes. His long arms, size and playing strength also allow him to tie up and get movement on straight-ahead run blocks. With his size, Toilolo lacks the top acceleration and elite speed of some of the lighter tight ends, but he uses his size, receiving skills and strength to be productive catching passes and making plays running after the catch. Toilolo is unlikely to "wow" with a great 40 time as he lacks elite playing speed, which is why he is likely to be a second- or third-round pick.

4. Dion Sims, Jr., Michigan State
6-5, 285, 4.85, projected second-round pick

A big, powerful tight end, Sims surprised me with his quickness and receiving skills. While he is upright and lacks burst off the line into route, he is quicker than expected getting to full speed, knows how to get open and has soft, natural hands. Odd for such a big tight end, Sims is a better receiver than blocker due to a lack of aggressiveness and competitiveness trying to block. The lack of aggression leads to his man avoiding him and making/disrupting the play too often. No doubt talented enough to be a dominating block and impact receiver, Sims' inconsistent blocking and lack of top-level speed will likely keep him from being a first-round pick if he comes out early for the draft.

5. Mychal Rivera, Sr., Tennessee
6-3, 239, 4.75, projected third-round pick

Unlike all the other tight ends on this list, Rivera is under-sized and somewhat of a "tweener" between tight end, h-back and fullback. Despite his lack of bulk/weight, Rivera flashes the ability to be a dominant down/side blocker who can drive defensive ends down the line. However, the trouble is that when Rivera does not block with good leverage and attack defenders, he can be "stoned" at the point of attack. Effective getting through the line, when he keeps his knees bent Rivera can be a good blocker on the second level. His upright running style makes him look slower running routes and running after the catch, but the reality is that he has the quickness and speed to consistently get separation against man coverage and to make plays running after the catch. Overall, Rivera is not a big-name prospect, but NFL scouts are very intrigued by his versatility and ability to contribute catching passes from a variety of alignments.

Email Russ at and follow Russ on Twitter @RUSSLANDE.

Toilolo would be what this offense needs has good blocking ability and size to create mismatches at 6'8 but have a feeling hes gonna stay one more year would love to get him in the 3rd

Jordan Reed will be a good player. Crazy to think he isn't even a top 5 TE in the nation coming out. His receiving ability is among the best, blocking is ehhh but I know for certain he will be another good Gator TE product. (think Hernandez)

John Galt?:

--- Quote from: Detrimental on November 21, 2012, 01:57:43 PM ---Jordan Reed will be a good player. Crazy to think he isn't even a top 5 TE in the nation coming out. His receiving ability is among the best, blocking is ehhh but I know for certain he will be another good Gator TE product. (think Hernandez)

--- End quote ---

Probably because he isn't coming out till 2014, but yeah I do agree he is damn good

while grabbing a tight end wouldn't be a bad thing, I think we can afford to wait until the later rounds or wait until next year.. or maybe grab one in free agency. Dallas Clark has been very good whenever we actually throw him the ball. He's getting older and isn't much of a blocker, but he still has some ball in him. We have too many needs in the secondary, and on the defensive and offensive lines to worry about getting a TE in the first few rounds. Not to mention we probably need to look hard at RB because Blount may be gone and we can't afford to lose Martin to an injury and than have to throw the season down the toilet because we don't have a good backup.

Before tight end we need:

CB (self explanatory..we should probably even take two with high picks if we can)
RB (martin needs a better back up than Ware or Smith if Blounts gone)
DT (behind mccoy we have nothing. Miller provides no pass rushing threat either)
Pass Rushing D End (who knows if bennet will be resigned, plus our pass rush sucks even with him and Clayborn in)
C (our line would really be a force if we could find a top notch center)
G/T (can never have too much depth as we've seen with all the injuries across the line)
FS (Barber won't be here much longer. Black has shown promise but we will need depth. plus having a stud to pair with Barron Wouldn't hurt)
SLB (Black has played better this year but we could certainly find an improvement)
PR/KR (enough said)

All of this should be taken care of before TE


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