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NFL draft

No killer prospects at tight end

There won’t be a tight end selected in the first round. There might not be one chosen in the top 50. But if form holds, there will be some who’ll put up good rookie numbers and have good careers.

Most recently, for example, consider Pat Freiermuth. He was just the 55th pick of last year’s draft, but he caught 7 touchdowns as a rookie. Or Cole Kmet the previous season; he hasn’t made an impact statistical impact yet, but he looks like he’s going to be in the league for a lot of years.

This year’s draft includes a lot of modest tight end prospects who’ll go in the second, third and fourth rounds. Trey McBride (pictured) is the first tight end on most published mock drafts. He’s nothing special athletically, but he caught 90 passes for 1,121 yards at Colorado State last year. We’ll see where he goes, but I don’t the college production as a huge selling point. I think there have been two notable tight end prospects with 80-plus catches (in their final college season) in the last 20 years, and neither had a good career: Jace Amaro (106 catches) and Chase Coffman (90).

Jelani Woods played at Oklahoma State and Virginia. He’s got size that will get the attention of some teams. He measured at 6-foot-7 and 259 pounds at the combine. He was listed at 275 pounds as a college player, so he may have lightened up in hopes of posting a good 40 time (and 4.61 is good for a big man).

Chigoziem Okonkwo ran a 4.52 At the combine, fastest of the tight ends, but he’s shorter and lighter than a typical tight end. He measured 6-foot-2 and 238 pounds at the combine. He also didn’t do much with that speed at Maryland, with his 52 catches last year averaging only 8.6 yards.

Other tight ends who might be selected in the third round: Jalen Wydermyer (Texas A&M), Jeremy Ruckert (Ohio State), Isaiah Likely (Coastal Carolina), Cole Turner (Nevada), Cade Otton (Washington) and Greg Dulcich (UCLA).

At this point, I don’t see any tight end I’d be excited about selecting in a fantasy draft. I would need to see something on the field first (or at least see them drafted into a situation where it looks like their NFL team has confidence in them).

But the historical numbers indicate there will be some decent ones.

Since 2000, 44 tight ends have finished with top-25 numbers in their first season (using PPR numbers). Only 13 of those guys were players chosen in the first round (and I’ve got those guys tagged with black dots).

Year PlayerPkRecYdsTDPPRRk
2021• Kyle Pitts, Atl.46810261176.66
2002• Jeremy Shockey, NYG14748942175.43
2017• Evan Engram, NYG23647226173.65
2010Rob Gronkowski, N.E.424254610156.611
2021Pat Freiermuth, Pitt.55604977153.713
2008John Carlson, Sea.38556275147.77
2010Aaron Hernandez, N.E.113455636142.014
2013Tim Wright, T.B.FA545715141.313
2016Hunter Henry, S.D.35364788131.818
2010• Jermaine Gresham, Cin.21524714125.116
2005• Heath Miller, Pitt.30394596120.914
2010Tony Moeaki, K.C.93475563120.617
2008• Dustin Keller, NYJ30485353119.514
2012Dwayne Allen, Ind.64455213115.625
2013Jordan Reed, Was.85454993114.722
2018Chris Herndon, NYJ107395024113.216
2019• Noah Fant, Den.20405623113.015
2002Randy McMichael, Mia.114394854112.39
2018Mark Andrews, Balt.86345523107.217
2013Zach Ertz, Phil.35364694106.923
2017George Kittle, S.F.146435152106.519
2015Will Tye, NYGFA424643106.425
2007Zach Miller, Oak.38444443106.416
2017• O.J. Howard, T.B.19264326105.220
2004Chris Cooley, Was.81373146104.412
2013Mychal Rivera, Oak.184384074102.724
2006Owen Daniels, Hou.9834352599.214
2001Eric Johnson, S.F.22440362396.215
2017• David Njoku, Cle.2932386494.724
2007• Greg Olsen, Chi.3139391292.122
2018Dallas Goedert, Phil.4933334490.420
2005Alex Smith, T.B.7141367289.719
2002Doug Jolley, Oak.5532409284.918
2014Jace Amaro, NYJ4938345284.524
2018Ian Thomas, Car.10136333281.324
2000• Bubba Franks, G.B.1434363176.319
2005Bo Scaife, Ten.17937273276.322
2001Alge Crumpler, Atl.3525330376.021
2003Jason Witten, Dall.6935347175.720
2003Antonio Gates, S.D.FA24389274.921
2000Aaron Shea, Cle.11030302272.223
2002• Jerramy Stevens, Sea.2826252369.223
2003• Dallas Clark, Ind.2429340169.024
2001Boo Williams, N.O.FA20202358.222

—Ian Allan

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