You may or may not have seen my list of Top Tight End prospects… at least thru the second iteration of CPGM’s Top 5 Prospect by Position breakdown (FYI 3.0 will be coming out soon). But I wanted to offer just a little more context to my rankings as the 2017 NFL Draft draws near.
- O.J. Howard, Alabama
- David Njoku, Miami
- Bucky Hodges, Virginia Tech
- Evan Engram, Ole Miss
- George Kittle, Iowa
Synopsis – This is a loaded class with many different types of tight ends. You have the guys that I like to call dual threat tight ends that can play on the line of scrimmage helping in the run game and can also line up in the slot and give you a mismatch in the passing game. I value those versatile tight ends a bunch and that’s the reason why O.J. Howard and David Njoku come in at the top of my rankings. Howard is one of the safer picks in the entire draft class due to his ability to run block. I’ve seen this guy hold his own against the number 1 projected pick Myles Garrett. At Alabama he was asked to open up holes in the run game far more often than he was asked to be a receiving threat. This could be a knock on Howard but you can clearly see that he has supreme athleticism and strong hands to take his game to the next level in the NFL (see Senior Bowl). Njoku is a phenom who is just beginning to scratch the surface of his enormous upside. The University of Miami has created many dynamic playmakers at the position and Njoku should add to that collection with his great run after the catch ability. The next tier of tight end prospects include Bucky Hodges and Evan Engram. Both these guys have extremely high ceilings and I would not be surprised if either of them ends up being the best in the class years from now. Another similarity between Hodges and Engram was how their respective college teams utilized them incorrectly. Hodges lined up predominately as a wide receiver, outside the numbers for Va Tech while Engram ran many of his routes within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. I expect offensive coordinators at the next level to take advantage of their athleticism and scheme up mismatches against linebackers and safeties in the slot as a move tight end. George Kittle rounds out my Top 5 because of the nastiness and toughness he brings on every single snap. The upside of Gerald Everett and Jordan Leggett was enticing but give me the safer guy who can affect the game as a run blocker as well as a pass catcher.
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