1. Iowa TE T.J. Hockenson – Junior – 6-5, 251 – 4.70
Hockenson, teammate Noah Fant, and Alabama’s Irv Smith are easily the three highest rated tight ends in this year’s draft, and all should be very good at the next level. Hockenson is probably the most athletic of the three and is very well-rounded between his hands, his blocking ability and his route running. He has very few negatives, with one of the few being a need to add a little more muscle to his frame. Even splitting time with his teammate Fant, Hockenson finished his final season with the Hawkeyes by nabbing 49 passes for 760 yards (15.5 avg.) and six touchdowns, enroute to winning the John Mackey away and being named the Big 10 Tight End of the Year.
2. Iowa TE Noah Fant – Junior – 6-4, 249 – 4.50
Of the two Hawkeye standouts, Fant is even more of a freakish athlete. Fant isn’t as well-rounded as Hockenson, and is viewed more of a prototypical pass catching tight end. However, at 249 pounds he can still be serviceable in the run game if he works on the blocking aspect of things. Fant has exceptional burst for someone his size, and his long strides helps him gain immediate separation from nearly every linebacker who tried to cover his during his time at Iowa. In his three seasons in Iowa City, Fant recorded 78 receptions for 1,083 yards with 19 touchdowns.
3. Alabama TE Irv Smith Jr. – Junior – 6-2, 242 – 4.63
Smith made huge strides from his sophomore season to his junior season, that saw him , catch 44 passes for 710 yards (16.1 average) and seven touchdowns. A very good athlete, but still somewhat raw, Smith was just a one-year full-time starter for the Crimson Tide. Despite only being 6-2, Smith does a great job of boxing out defenders and making contested catches. His route running is surprisingly good for a player who only started one full season and scouts love his toughness after the catch, dragging defenders and fighting for the extra yard.
4. UCLA TE Caleb Wilson – Senior – 6-4, 240 – 4.56
Wilson is a promising prospect who many feel still has a very high ceiling. While not known as a blocker at UCLA, NFL teams will want to add some more weight and muscle to his frame in order to be more versatile. Wilson was extremely productive for the Bruins, particularly his final season earning first-team All-Pac-12 honors as a junior. Wilson had 60 receptions for 965 yards (16.1 average) and four touchdowns. The Dallas native has very good speed and a long wingspan that could make him a productive pass-catcher at the next level.
5. Texas A&M TE Jace Sternberger – Junior – 6-4, 251 – 4.75
Sternberger was asked to block quite a bit in Jimbo Fisher’s offense at Texas A&M but will need to add considerably more upper body strength (17 reps bench press at the Combine) in order to excel at the next level. His forte in the NFL will most likely be as a threat in the passing game as he is blessed with excellent hands and above average hand-eye coordination. His route running is also a plus mark on the scouts’ clipboards when watching his film. Sternberger notched 48 receptions for the Aggies in 2018 for 832 yards and 10 touchdowns, averaging an impressive 17.3 yards per catch.
6. Ole Miss TE Dawson Knox – Junior – 6-4, 254 – 4.57
“Potential” is the buzz word when the name Dawson Knox is mentioned in scouting circles. A solid athlete, his film at Mississippi was fairly underwhelming. The offensive system he ran didn’t ask a lot, so there is plenty left still to develop in his game. Dawson will be drafted on that potential as his production doesn’t warrant a very high pick. In his four seasons at One Miss Dawson has just 39 receptions for 605 yards, and never found the end zone. Still look for a team to take a chance on him due to his measurables, which are outstanding.
7. San Diego State TE Kahale Warring – Junior – 6-5, 252 – 4.67
Warring is a late-comer to the sport of football, playing just one year in high school before walking on at San Diego State. Scouts love his athleticism and also his potential when he fully grasps football awareness. But his raw athleticism is enough to make some scouts very excited. Quick out of his breaks, and into his routes, Warring could become a solid pass catching tight end in the NFL, especially with good coaching. His college career numbers in college won’t necessarily wow anyone (51 catches, 631 yards, eight TDs), but he has plenty of ceiling left.
8. Georgia TE Isaac Nauta – Junior – 6-3, 244 – 4.91
Nauta is a versatile tight end who excelled as a run blocker but also showed soft hands and an ability to catch the ball away from his body, much like a receiver. The Bulldogs love to line up and pound the football so Nauta will come into the league already as a solid blocker. He doesn’t possess elite speed but plays faster than his 4.91 time. A freshmen All-SEC player, Nauta struggled his sophomore season before bouncing back with a 30-catch, 430-yard junior year with three touchdowns.
9. Utah State TE Dax Raymond – Senior – 6-5, 255 – 4.73
Raymond’s numbers won’t make you stand up and take notice but has some attributes that teams will fall in love with, particularly his size. At 255 pounds, Raymond is one of the bigger tight ends in this class, and surprisingly can get off the line well. Like Dawson Knox, the offensive system in which he played did him no favors as he wasn’t asked to do much more than run basic routes. In his career for the Aggies, Raymond has 73 receptions for 873 yards but only three touchdowns.
10. Notre Dame TE Alize Mack – Senior – 6-4, 249 – 4.71
Mack showed versatility at Notre Dame whether as an in-line blocker or splitting out wide. Although his strength seemed to be as a receiver more so than a blocker at the next level. Mack doesn’t have a lot of wiggle after the catch but has solid hands and a decent eye for spacing and getting open early. As a starter in South Bend Mack had 68 catches for 716 yards and four touchdowns for his career.
BEST OF THE REST
11. Michigan TE Zach Gentry – Senior – 6-8, 265 – 4.90
Gentry is essentially a light tackle who projects to be a tight end/Y-back and not a big threat as a receiver. He could be a solid target on bootlegs inside the red zone, but isn’t a stretch-the-field type of tight end. Despite his size, he will need to get much stronger to be effective at the next level after reportedly only mustering up 12 reps on the 225-pound bench press at the NFL Scouting Combine. Gentry had 49 receptions for 817 yards and four touchdowns in his career with the Wolverines.
12. San Jose State TE Josh Oliver – Senior – 6-5, 249 – 4.63
Oliver showed signs of being a good in-line blocker at San Jose after being recruited as a linebacker out of high school. He played as a true freshmen, sparingly, but did record a touchdown catch just one year out of high school. His junior season saw him catch 35 passes and as a senior he recorded 56 catches for 709 yards and and touchdowns. A very god athlete, Oliver has the potential to be a No. 2 tight end in the league, being both a help in the run game and as a receiver.
LSU TE Foster Moreau – Photo courtesy of LSU Athletics
13. LSU TE Foster Moreau – Senior – 6-4, 253 – 4.63
During his four-year career in Baton Rouge, Moreau played in 30 games and managed 52 career receptions for 629 yards and six scores. His excellent footwork and strong base made him a lead blocker at times, effectively helping the Tigers have one of the more potent running attacks in the SEC during his four years at LSU. Moreau is projected to be primarily a run blocker, but don’t sleep on him being someone to make short-yard receptions and will fight hard for the extra yard. Moreau doesn’t get out of his stance and into his route as fast as some other tight ends in this class, causing him to fall somewhat in his projected round.
14. Stanford TE Kaden Smith – Junior – 6-5, 255 – 4.92
Described as gritty and tough, Smith won’t be 50-plus catch NFL tight end, but can develop into a solid No. 2. His strengths include his football I.Q., toughness as a route runner and strong hands to nab contested balls. Most likely he will make his mark as a blocking tight end who could bail out quarterbacks for first downs in third-and-short situations. Smith finished his Stanford career with 70 total receptions for 1,049 yards and seven touchdowns.
15. Missouri TE Kendall Blanton – Senior – 6-6, 262 – 4.95
Blanton was a four-year player for Missouri who but played sparingly until his senior season that saw him get action in 10 games. His senior year was by far his most productive, catching 22 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns. His blend of speed and size, in addition to his football awareness will get him a shot in there NFL and could be a late-round player or undrafted free agent who makes a roster by contributing on special teams as he continues to develop.
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at email@example.com
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