2019 NFL DRAFT TIGHT END RANKINGS

  1. TJ Hockenson 6’4 250 Iowa Hawkeyes (SO)

STRENGTHS: T.J. Hockenson has fantastic hands—a natural catcher of the football…can run any route in the passing tree that you want…a versatile option that you can line up anywhere on the football field…can operate in-line as a blocker….takes pride in his blocking—ferocious in fact…can lineup in the slot…can line up outside…sturdy frame which has shown the ability to play through contact…a strong athlete who doesn’t go down on first contact…

WEAKNESSES: T.J. Hockenson did not produce strong numbers that you would like to see from a prospect with his draft stock…you have to wonder with Noah Fant being the more highly thought of prospect heading into the 2018 season, were defenses paying more attention to Fant—leaving Hockenson unaccounted for…

COMP: George Kittle

OVERALL: T.J. Hockenson has developed as one of the more dynamic pass catching options in the 2019 NFL Draft. Hockenson is a jack-0f-all-trades type of player who will be able to adapt well to any offensive scheme in the NFL. Many of his contemporaries struggle as it relates to blocking, and this is an area where Hockenson excels. His calling-card of versatility will appear to almost every team in the NFL—making him a wanted commodity. I would expect T.J. Hockenson to be an early-mid  1st round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

2) Noah Fant 6’5 245 Iowa Hawkeyes (JR)

STRENGTHS: Noah Fant is one of those matchup nightmares that causes so many problems for the opposition…Fant has the quickness and route running ability to excel on a vast route tree…good hands—catches the ball with ease…plays well through contact…defenders have to make a ‘business decision’ when trying to tackle Noah Fant in the open field…

WEAKNESSES: Where his teammate T.J. Hockenson excels as a blocker—Noah Fant fails…he doesn’t play with the proper leverage nor does he have the functional strength to be a good in-line blocker…not a complete player…will have to be used specifically in the slot or out wide…

COMP: Evan Engram

OVERALL: Noah Fant originally resided at the top of the 2019 TE class, only to be knocked down a peg by his teammate at Iowa, T.J. Hockenson. Noah Fant is a TE that fits the modern day NFL. Teams are always looking for chess pieces in order to put the defense on the…well…defensive. He’s not going to help you in the run game, but he can do virtually everything else. I would anticipate hearing Noah Fant’s name called in the mid-late 1st round area in the 2019 NFL Draft.

3) Irv Smith 6’4 250 Alabama Crimson Tide (JR)

STRENGTHS: It may not grab the headlines, but Irv Smith is one of the better blocking TE that we have seen in a while…the fact that he comes from Alabama and they are so heavily invested in their run game plays to Irv Smith’s blocking upside…Irv Smith is also a very good route runner…he is quick in and out of his breaks…plays the game with an edge and a physicality that teams are attracted towards…

WEAKNESSES: Irv Smith does not have the top-end speed to develop into a field-stretcher…Smith’s hands have been inconsistent and will need additional work…does not get off the line of scrimmage as quickly as you would like to see…does not separate at a high level—relies on his frame to keep would-be defenders away…Irv Smith is just an average athlete and could have more difficulty given the NFL athletes he will be facing every week are bigger, stronger, and faster…

COMP: Jordan Reed

OVERALL: Irv Smith is a good TE prospect, he just doesn’t possess the upside that a few of his contemporaries do. A solid route runner, with good hands, Irv Smith will have a role in the NFL. We are looking at a late 1st round prospect heading into the 2019 NFL Draft.

4) Jace Sternberger 6’4 250 Texas A&M Aggies (JR)

STRENGTHS: Jace Sternberger checks all the boxes on physical traits that you look for in a TE prospect…Sternberger has an above average frame…he brings plus athleticism…has the speed to stretch the field from the TE position…does not mind going up and getting the ball amongst a crowd…a bull in a china shop—very tough to tackle after the catch…there is upside here as an in-line TE as he has the potential to develop as  pass catcher, as well as a blocker…a very productive prospect…

WEAKNESSES: Jace Sternberger needs to be quicker off of the line of scrimmage…he seems to be delayed as he gets out into his route…overall his route running in general needs to be more precise and additional development is needed…although an above average blocker, Sternberger steel needs to be more consistent and play proper leverage…

COMP: Jake Butt

OVERALL: Jace Sternberger is another one of the more interesting prospects in this TE class. He is dripping with physical talent and potential, but needs some excellent coaching at the NFL level in order to fulfill it. With a more uncertain future, I would suggest that Jace Sternberger will be a late two or day three selection, if I had to pinpoint I would say the 3rd-4th rounds of the 2019 NFL Draft.

5) Dawson Knox 6’4 250 Ole Miss Rebels (JR)

STRENGTHS: One look at Dawson Knox, and you will see someone who has rare athletic traits…his body control at the TE position is something to be seen…a very smart player who can run sophisticated routes with a high level of nuance…gets off the line of scrimmage rapidly…a high upside prospect…former QB…smart player…good hands…

WEAKNESSES: Dawson Knox is a below average blocker who has a long way to go if he wants to contend for an in-line role in the offense…plays with poor leverage and a weak lower half…his game as a whole is wildly inconsistent…needs to show the ability to play with punishment and physicality…Dawson Knox is nothing special after the catch…

COMP: Ian Thomas

OVERALL: Dawson Knox is going to be one of the more fascinating TEs heading into the 2019 NFL Draft. Limited production, mixed with a plus-athlete, his value could go either way. Knox certainly has the upside to get excited about, but understand, he is far away from a complete prospect. His draft stock is more volatile than most, ultimately I would expect to hear his name in the 2nd-3rd rounds of the 2019 NFL Draft.

6) Isaac Nauta 6’4 250 Georgia Bulldogs (JR)

STRENGTHS: Isaac Nauta has outstanding, strong hands—good luck finding some footage of him dropping the football…a true in-line TE prospect…he is very physical and plays with a nasty streak…outstanding in the blocking department…quick getting off of the line of scrimmage as a receiver and as a blocker…plays to his strengths…uses good body control to keep would be defenders away from the contested catch….

WEAKNESSES: Isaac Nauta doesn’t possess the speed you are looking for in a pass receiving TE…plays too high and without proper leverage at times—this didn’t limit him at Georgia, but will in the NFL…given his speed limitations, not much of a factor with YAC…does not cause much separation…just average athletically…

COMP: Dwayne Allen

OVERALL: No one is every going to mistake Isaac Nauta for Zach Ertz. Nauta is more of a traditional in-line blocker who excels more as a blocker than he ever will as a receiver. That being said, he does possess good hands, so he can be called upon in a pinch as a secondary TE option in the passing game. Isaac Nauta continues to gain momentum, he looks like he’s shaping up as a 3rd round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

7) Kaden Smith 6’5 255 Stanford Cardinal (SO)

STRENGTHS: Kaden Smith certainly looks the part of NFL TE…he has the size to adapt to the physical nature of the league and to play through physical play…Smith has good, strong hands…goes up and high-points the football very well…great body control making adjustments to poorly thrown footballs…

WEAKNESSES: Kaden Smith needs a lot of work on his route running…wastes far too much movement, far too often…does not separate at all…relies far too much on his size and frame in order to come down with the catch…not a very good blocker…poor technique as a route runner and as a blocker…needs high-level coaching…

COMP: Austin Hooper

OVERALL: Kaden Smith has the physical traits and the tools to be a starting TE in the NFL. The issues at the time are that his fundamentals are not sound. Smith needs additional work on his route running, focusing in on getting off the line of scrimmage, in and out of his breaks quicker, and developing as a blocker. I would not expect Kaden Smith to begin his career as a starter, but there is the potential to develop into one. His value is around the late 3rd-4th round in the 2019 NFL Draft.

8) Josh Oliver 6’5 250 San Jose State Spartans (SR)

STRENGTHS: Josh Oliver has tremendous athleticism…Oliver is going to cause an issue for defenses to match up with…a versatile prospect who can line up all over the field as a receiver, but can also line up on the line of scrimmage as a blocker…good hands…very good body control…an unreal speed to size prospect…

WEAKNESSES: As talented as Josh Oliver is, he is as raw…he is going to need a lot of work and proper coaching at the NFL level…I don’t think Oliver will be ready to contribute early on in his NFL career…Josh Oliver is going to need work on his route running as well…can’t rely on his athletic ability at the NFL level…

COMP: Jonnu Smith

OVERALL: Josh Oliver is a prospect who is gaining more and more momentum as the Draft season continues. Josh Oliver is a sensational athlete that has the type of upside that teams are looking for. Oliver is going to need a lot of work on the finer things, so have proper expectations, but I can see Josh Oliver being drafted between the 3rd-4th round of the 2019 NFL Draft.

9) Donald Parham 6’8 245 Stetson (SR)

STRENGTHS: Donald Parham stands out in a crowd—even in a crowd of the best athletes in the world…Parham has great hands and a large frame and length to keep defenders away…catches the ball at it’s highest point…can make the tough catch through contact…great body control…could project to be an advanced blocker out wide or in the slot…

WEAKNESSES: The problem with Donald Parham’s stature is he struggles with physicality…at 6’8 he is going to be giving up leverage to virtually all defenders…Parham is going to offer you virtually nothing in  blocking department…his play is very consistent and erratic…needs to be quicker in and out of his breaks…does not have high end speed…given his struggles with quickness—not going to offer much in terms of YAC…

COMP: Jared Cook

OVERALL: The projections for Donald Parham are all over the map. Parham has had a good start to his draft season, impressing many leading up to the Senior Bowl. The Scouting Combine is going to play a huge role for him and where he ultimately lands. Given the recent positive momentum, I’ll slide him in to the early part of Day Three as a 4th round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft.

10) Dax Raymond 6’5 250 Utah State Broncos (SR)

STRENGTHS: For a prospect the size of Dax Raymond at 6’5 250, he is remarkably agile…plays with a large catch radius—and utilizes this to his advantage as he makes contested catches at a high rate…has the speed and burst off of the line of scrimmage to test a defense vertically from the TE position…Dax Raymond has the type of high upside that teams covet and believe that they can develop into a matchup problem…projects to be an excellent run blocker at the next level…a pleasant surprise…

WEAKNESSES: Dax Raymond will show you the glimpses to get excited about, but needs a lot more consistency to his game…straight line speed may be good, but his quickness and acceleration leaves much to be desired…needs to play with proper technique and better leverage…will need to get stronger at the point of contact in order to sustain against bigger, stronger athletes in the NFL…

COMP: Charles Clay

OVERALL: There’s a lot to like about the potential of what a Dax Raymond can bring to the table at the next level…physically imposing—he has the potential and the attitude for the game that could make him a starting NFL TE…that being said, there’s a lot of work left to be done here…needs solid coaching up and refinement to his game…has the athletic ability to separate and cause defenses issues…for a prospect with his pedigree, Dak Raymond will likely be a value pick on the third day of the NFL Draft…currently pegged for a 4th-5th round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.