It’s not a great year for rookie tight ends (with just one selected in the first 90 picks). But I see a couple of second-year guys who did a good job of getting downfield for chunk plays last year.
Noah Fant, most notably, with the Broncos. But also Dawson Knox of Buffalo. He’s justifiably not as heralded as the two wide receivers he played with at Mississippi (A.J. Brown, DK Metcalf) but Knox is a mobile tight end.
Both Fant and Knox averaged about 14 yards per catch last year.
In the last 20 years, only two rookie tight ends with at least 40 targets have averaged more yards per catch than both Fant and Knox, and they both went on to have notable careers. Certainly Antonio Gates, and Mark Andrews is off to a great start in Baltimore.
|ROOKIES AVERAGING 12 YARDS PER CATCH|
|2018||Mark Andrews, Balt.||50||34||552||16.2||3|
|2003||Antonio Gates, S.D.||42||24||389||16.2||2|
|2019||Noah Fant, Den.||66||40||562||14.1||3|
|2019||Dawson Knox, Buff.||50||28||388||13.9||2|
|2016||Hunter Henry, S.D.||53||36||478||13.3||8|
|2006||Vernon Davis, S.F.||42||20||265||13.3||3|
|2001||Alge Crumpler, Atl.||41||25||330||13.2||3|
|2013||Zach Ertz, Phil.||57||36||469||13.0||4|
|2010||Rob Gronkowski, N.E.||59||42||546||13.0||10|
|2018||Chris Herndon, NYJ||56||39||502||12.9||4|
|2011||Lance Kendricks, St.L.||58||28||352||12.6||0|
|2010||Aaron Hernandez, N.E.||64||45||563||12.5||6|
|2002||Randy McMichael, Mia.||68||39||485||12.4||4|
|2002||Jeremy Shockey, NYG||128||74||894||12.1||2|
|2017||David Njoku, Cle.||60||32||386||12.1||4|
|2017||George Kittle, S.F.||63||43||515||12.0||2|
Of the 14 tight ends mentioned on this list, 11 went on to have notable careers. I can’t promise Fant and Knox will have that kind of success, each has some potential to develop into viable players this year.
With Fant, I’m encouraged enough that I’m ranking him among my top 10 tight ends. I wouldn’t want to select him to be my starting, No. 1 tight end, but I would be very interested in having him be my second tight end.
I’m not as high on Knox. Josh Allen hasn’t won me over yet, and the Bills have a bunch of capable receivers. I just don’t see Knox getting used enough. So for me, I have Knox as more of a top-25 tight end – maybe (in the worst-case scenario) he’d be my second tight end, but I would be more interested in him as a third tight end (if we’re in a 12-team league where we’re getting into selecting three tight ends.)