Hopefully, your team doesn’t need a tight end in this year’s draft because there aren’t many that will be ready to start this season. The rest of this draft class needs work before they enter the starting lineup. Tight end isn’t an easy position to jump into anyway because of the multitude of responsibilities young players need to learn.
1) Cole Kmet Notre Dame
Cole Kmet comes from an NFL family tree with his father and an uncle each spending time in the NFL. Kmet also played baseball for Notre Dame, but chose to focus on football which was the right choice. As a pitcher, he had a decent sophomore campaign, but he is clearly a better football player.
Tight ends in the NFL need to be able to play receiver, and Kmet is a natural. The big man has an excellent burst off the line. Once the ball is in his hands, good luck bringing him down. He almost always is gang tackled. Between his burst and route running ability, he creates great separation.
This guy needs to learn how to block. It’s brutal on some plays watching him try to block. Given his size, you’d expect some ability. Also, he lets the ball get into his body too much as a receiver. He needs to work on catching the ball with his hands more.
2) Harrison Bryant Florida Atlantic
The AP All American tight end and the John Mackey award winner comes in at number two. Harrison Bryant led all tight ends in receptions and receiving yards this past year. When watching FAU play, it looked like Bryant was the Owls best player.
Bryant is a smooth runner with an excellent burst off the line. His route running is adequate, and FAU moved him award to various positions to exploit size mismatches. He wasn’t asked to block a ton, but when he did, he was effective.
For a tight end who was largely used as a receiver, Bryant had some ugly drops. It’s hard to understand some of these drops because he makes amazing catches but loses track of the easy ones. Going across the middle tends to cause more of these drops.
3) Brycen Hopkins Purdue
Purdue didn’t look for Brycen Hopkins to be a play maker for them until this year. As a fifth-year senior, he nearly doubled his career receptions with 61. His yards per catch took a bit of a hit, but he pulled down seven touchdown receptions too.
Hopkins is an athletic freak. His combine performance was arguably the best of all of the tight ends this year. He ranked high in nearly every competition. His Senior Bowl performance wasn’t amazing, but the defensive players voted him onto the team of the week for the North squad.
His NFL coaches will need to work on a couple things to fine tune this athletically gifted talent. Route running is a little sloppy. Sharper change of direction would help to create better gaps. As a blocker, there is a clear issue with hand usage. It looks like he is more interested in hitting people than controlling his opponent.
4) Thaddeus Moss LSU
The son of Hall of Fame wide receiver Randy Moss, Thaddeus Moss is an interesting prospect. Moss managed to be productive in an offensive with a ton of talent. North Carolina State was the original school choice for him, but he transferred after his freshman season. He sat out 2017 and missed 2018 due to an injury, so Moss is relatively inexperienced
Watching games, it looks like Moss takes out every bit of the anger and frustration he endured off the field and inflicts it on his opponents. He is incredibly physical especially as a blocker. Defenders are mauled relentlessly; however, Moss is still a solid contributor to the passing attack. In LSU’s two playoff games, he caught nine balls for 135 yards and three touchdowns.
While he can catch nearly everything thrown at him, Moss cannot run routes. He gets that from his dad for sure, but he didn’t get the freakish athleticism that Randy Moss used to dismantled defenses. He didn’t workout at the combine, but he doesn’t have a great burst or a high-end speed based on film. The beginning of his career will be plenty of blocking, but he can develop into a quality starter if he puts in the work for the first couple of seasons.
5) Adam Trautman Dayton
Adam Trautman was the best player on the field nearly every game he played for Dayton. In high school, he was a quarterback and never caught passes until 2016 when Dayton moved him to tight end. That means, he is only going to get better since he is new to the position.
Despite the lack of experience, Trautman is already a solid blocker. He easily controls defenders on the field using his size advantage. In many games, flashes of fantastic route running appear; however, he consistently fails to create separation. His burst off the line is on display nearly every play.
Unfortunately, Trautman shines against FCS talent. In many of his games, he looks bigger than everyone on the defense. Opposing defenders never jammed him at the line. There might be a major wake up call when he is taking on players bigger and faster. His practice at the Senior Bowl was praised.