There are some really good tight ends coming out of college this year. Probably a first-rounder, and perhaps three in the first two rounds. The possibility of one of those guys being drafted by the Patriots (and their six picks in the first three rounds) is particularly enticing after Rob Gronkowski's retirement.

Iowa tight ends T.J. Hockenson (pictured) and Noah Fant look like the best of these incoming rookies; Irv Smith Jr. is also in the discussion. What are the odds, based on recent history, of these guys being impact players in Year 1?

I took a look at the rookie year numbers from all tight ends drafted in the first three rounds over the last 15 years. Some modest successes, including recently, but only two guys who knocked it out of the park.

Gronkowski and Evan Engram stand alone as players who finished in the top 10 at their position (1 point for every 10 yards and 6 for touchdowns) in their rookie seasons. Two others (Hunter Henry and Heath Miller) just missed. In the table, top-10 rookie tight ends are shown in bold, top 20 in italics.

YearRdPlayerNoYdsTDFF Rk
2019?T.J. Hockenson ????
2019?Irv Smith Jr.????
2019?Noah Fant ????
20183Mark Andrews, Balt.34552316th
20182Dallas Goedert, Phil.33334420th
20183Jordan Akins, Hou.17225056th
20181Hayden Hurst, Balt.13163157th
20182Mike Gesicki, Mia.22202063rd
20171O.J. Howard, T.B.26432616th
20171David Njoku, Clev.32386422nd
20172Gerald Everett, LAR16244237th
20172Adam Shaheen, Chi.12127344th
20173Jonnu Smith, Tenn.18157247th
20171Evan Engram, NYG6472265th
20162Hunter Henry , S.D.36478811th
20163Austin Hooper , Atl.19271335th
20163Nick Vannett , Sea.332093rd
20153Jeff Heuerman, Den.000-
20153Clive Walford, Oak.28329330th
20152Maxx Williams, Balt.32268143rd
20153Tyler Kroft, Cin.11129156th
20142Jace Amaro, NYJ38345229th
20143Richard Rodgers, G.B.20225241st
20142Austin Seferian-Jenkins, T.B.21221242nd
20141Eric Ebron, Det.25248145th
20143Crockett Gillmore, Balt.10121157th
20143C.J. Fiedorowicz, Hou.428176th
20142Troy Niklas, Ariz.338094th
20133Travis Kelce, K.C.000-
20132Zach Ertz, Phil.36469420th
20133Jordan Reed, Wash.45499323rd
20131Tyler Eifert, Cin.39445229th
20132Gavin Escobar, Dall.9134250th
20132Vance McDonald, S.F.8119063rd
20123Michael Egnew, Mia.000-
20123Dwayne Allen, Ind.45521323rd
20122Coby Fleener, Ind.26281238th
20112Kyle Rudolph, Minn.26249336th
20112Lance Kendricks, St.L.28352038th
20113Rob Housler, Ariz.12133057th
20103Tony Moeaki, K.C.47556320th
20101Jermaine Gresham, Cin.52471421st
20103Jimmy Graham, N.O.31356523rd
20103Ed Dickson, Balt.11152151st
20102Rob Gronkowski, N.E.42546105th
20093Chase Coffman, Cin.000-
20092Richard Quinn, Den.000-
20091Brandon Pettigrew, Det.30346225th
20093Jared Cook, Tenn.974072nd
20093Travis Beckum, NYG855080th
20082John Carlson, Sea.55627511th
20081Dustin Keller, NYJ48535314th
20082Martellus Bennett, Dall.20283424th
20083Jermichael Finley, G.B.674156th
20083Brad Cottam, K.C.763072nd
20082Fred Davis, Wash.327082nd
20083Craig Stevens, Tenn.19095th
20072Zach Miller, Oak.44444316th
20071Greg Olsen, Chi.39391221st
20073Matt Spaeth, Pitt.534347th
20062Tony Scheffler, Den.18286420th
20061Vernon Davis, S.F.20265323rd
20062Joe Klopfenstein, St.L.20226137th
20061Marcedes Lewis, Jac.13126145th
20062Anthony Fasano, Dall.14126058th
20053Kevin Everett, Buff.000-
20051Heath Miller, Pitt.39459611th
20053Alex Smith, T.B.41367221st

Rookie year numbers aren't everything, obviously. Greg Olsen, Jimmy Graham and Vernon Davis are among the players who weren't top-20 tight ends as rookies but went on to have very nice careers. And there will be players drafted outside the first three rounds (like fifth-rounder George Kittle) who emerge as fantasy difference-makers.

In general, though, best to temper rookie expectations for Hockenson and company, no matter where they're drafted, or by whom. Guys like Gronkowski are the exception.

--Andy Richardson