Category: Tight End

TE Zach Gentry, Michigan

6’8” – 265 lbs. – 4.90
Did not play as a freshman, but appeared in seven games as a sophomore. Worked his way into the offense as a junior, posting 17-303-2, then followed that up with a 32-514-2 line as a senior to conclude his collegiate career. Has rare height for the position; weight is also on the high end, but is so tall he actually appears somewhat thin, especially in the lower body. Moved around the formation on a regular basis; took snaps as an inline option, H-Back, and receiver, in roughly that order of frequency. Does a good job of making his releases for passing routes look similar to blocks in order to get to the second level. Not a very fast or explosive targets; ran a lot of crossing patterns and essentially served as a safety valve, making himself available for checkdowns on delayed releases. Runs through his routes high and lacks suddenness to create separation against man coverage; does most of his work against zones. When targeted, offers a wide catch radius and pretty impressive body control, although he struggled with drops at times. Fights for additional yardage after the catch but struggles to get low and doesn’t have great leg drive, tending to get stood up. Had pretty extensive blocking responsibilities, and plays with a physical, hard-working temperament. Was occasionally retained in pass protection, with the team feeling confident enough in his blocking to leave him on islands against opposing defensive ends. Demonstrates pretty accurate hand placement and adequate mirroring skills. In the run game, was asked to come in motion and cut off pursuers on the backside, line up on the line of scrimmage and try to seal opposing defensive ends inside, and climb up to the second level and engage defenders. However, grip strength is average, struggling to sustain through the whistle; falls off of more blocks than he should. Ability to line up and successfully engage defenders suffers with distance, leading to whiffs in space. Offers excellent size and roughly two years of starting experience playing for a major program which asked him to execute some different blocking responsibilities while also being fairly well-integrated into the passing game, but who is not really a dynamic athlete or an excellent blocker, and will consequently probably be more of a reserve/goal-line type of option at the next level. That could be enough to get him a spot in the mid-to-late-rounds of the draft.

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TE Tommy Sweeney, Boston College

6’5” – 251 lbs. – 4.83
Redshirted, then was little-used as a redshirt freshman, catching five passes. Has been the Eagles’ starting tight end ever since, posting lines of 26-353-3 in 2016, 36-512-4 in 2017, and 32-348-3 as a senior in 2018. Very solidly-built tight end with good musculature. Lines up all over the formation, primarily as an inline tight end but also as an H-Back or split out in the slot. Excellent blocker who ranks among the top tight ends in the class in that facet of the game. Fires out low and with explosiveness, exhibits good extension and grip strength, and keeps his legs churning after contact to generate push. Plays with a nasty demeanor and can drive opponents into the dirt or seal them in by attacking their outside shoulder. Capable of coming in motion and delivering crack blocks on opposing defensive ends to lead the way or cut off backside pursuit. Has some balance issues which crop up on tape but which didn’t prevent him from consistently executing during the games reviewed. Wasn’t retained in pass protection as much, tending to be sent on routes; based on a very limited sample size, appears to be more powerful as a drive blocker than he is in terms of anchoring against power. Reasonably athletic receiving option who ran routes at the short and intermediate levels; has been pretty well-integrated into the team’s passing game for the past three seasons, representing more than a mere safety valve on underneath throws. Doesn’t have great snap or explosion at the route stem; more of a smooth mover than anything. However, can occasionally get opposing defenders in his hip pocket and shield them from the ball. Presents the quarterback with a big target with soft hands. Good body control to adjust to passes away from his frame and bring throws in without letting them into his body; can climb the ladder and catch passes over the top or pirouette and make back-shoulder grabs. Capable of coming down with throws in traffic. An excellent blocker who plays with aggression and leverage, and who is also a solid receiver with smooth movement skills, impressive body control, and reliable hands, he represents one of the safer, more complete tight end prospects in this year’s draft class. One of the prospects who could conceivably sneak into the second day and probably won’t slip past the mid-rounds.

TE T.J. Hockenson, Iowa**

6’5” – 251 lbs. – 4.70
Redshirted in 2016, then ended up with a 24-320-3 line the following season. Won the Mackey Award this past year following a 49-760-6 season, then declared for the draft. Big tight end who worked as an inline “Y” in Iowa’s pro-style offense, but who would also take snaps outside, typically motioning in tighter to the formation to seal defensive ends inside in the run game. Primary value to a team is as an athletic pass-catcher. Releases well through congestion at the line of scrimmage. Able to use a swim move or dip his shoulder and slip by second-level defenders in zones. Pretty good route-runner who has some snap to his patterns and can create separation when working the middle of the field. Does a good job of navigating through tight spaces when working over the middle. Runs flat enough to maintain inside position and has the frame to shield defenders from the ball. Has enough speed to threaten defenses down the seams on vertical routes, tracking the ball well over his shoulder. Good focus to work through contact and come down with catches in tight coverage. Could do a better job of recognizing zone and breaking off routes to settle into soft spots rather than running himself into coverage. Was asked to execute a variety of blocking assignments, including a lot of blocking on angles. For a big tight end, however, blocking leaves something to be desired, both in terms of his awareness and in terms of his technique. Really struggles to line up opponents and ends up falling off of blocks because of poor balance/waist-bending. Struggles to recognize opponents rushing off the edge, forcing clumsy attempts to recover positioning. Works through the whistle and demonstrates good physicality and leg drive, but struggles to get his hands in, lock on, and sustain through the whistle. Best trait as a blocker is his short-area quickness to climb up to the second level and get in the way. Has the size, athletic ability, and motor to eventually develop into a solid blocker with coaching and may have benefited from spending more time in the Iowa program. A big, athletic tight end who comes from a program with a long history of producing solid pro tight ends and who was asked to play a very pro-style role in his team’s offense, but whose blocking is too inconsistent at this point. Looks like he’ll still end up going in the first round in a class which is fairly light at the top in terms of skill-position players, but may have benefited from a return to school.

TE Noah Fant, Iowa*

6’4” – 249 lbs. – 4.50
Caught nine passes as a freshman, then stepped into a regular role the following season, posting 30-494-11. Had a 39-518-7 line as a junior before declaring for the draft. Well-built, although he will probably need to add some additional bulk in order to play as a “Y” (inline) tight end. Like fellow tight end T.J. Hockenson, did take considerable snaps out of a three-point stance, with extensive blocking responsibilities, but would also line up in the slot to take advantage of his athleticism, and even occasionally on the outside to try and create mismatches against opposing cornerbacks. Has enough straight-line speed to threaten opposing defenses down the seams; smoother than he is a true burner. Able to stay on track through contact during the route. Also does a little bit of work underneath on out routes and other patterns of that nature, but is a little bit upright going into the route stem and tends to round off his patterns a little bit. Looks comfortable adjusting to poorly-thrown passes and can turn his waist to bring in passes thrown slightly behind him; soft, reliable hands to come down with catchable balls, although he did struggle to scoop up some lower passes. Exhibits impressive body control near the boundaries, although most of his work came over the middle of the field. A good runner after the catch, accelerating smoothly and wasting little time in getting upfield; glides instead of making sharp cuts. Has enough strength in his lower body to run through arm tackles. Probably the better blocker of the two Iowa tight ends in this year’s class, combining sound fundamentals and an aggressive, physical approach. Explosive out of his stance, staying low into contact and driving his legs well. Able to attack the outside shoulder and drive opposing defensive ends toward the middle of the field to seal on outside rushing attempts, or use his short-area quickness to get depth and wall-off defenders rushing from the outside. Works to sustain through the whistle. Can climb up to the second level and get in the way. Was rarely retained in pass protection. An impressive prospect who offers a solid combination of size and athleticism in the passing game and who might even be better as a blocker than as a receiver; stands a solid chance of being drafted ahead of his Mackey Award-winning teammate T.J. Hockenson, likely in the first round following his exceptional Combine workout.

TE Kendall Blanton, Missouri

6’6” – 262 lbs. – 4.95
Redshirted, then spent the next season as a reserve/special-teams player. Became the primary tight end in the following season, and spent three years in that role to conclude his career, posting lines of 16-161-3, 6-138-1, and 22-177-2. Tall, with good bulk and length for a pro tight end. Lines up all over the formation, but the majority of his snaps come as a traditional inline “Y” tight end, and that will likely be his role at the pro level as well. Blocking is a little bit sloppy at this point, but flashes the ability to develop into a contributor in that role with further work on his technique/fundamentals. Fires out of his stance low and with explosiveness, and plays with above-average functional strength. Generates enough pop on contact to create movement and can seal defensive ends inside when blocking on angles. Plays with physicality and aggression, churning his legs to get push. Can overwhelm opposing defensive backs when he successfully engages them in space as a stalk blocker in the screen game. However, at this point tends to fall off of too many blocks, with balance issues which crop up too frequently. Can be too aggressive and end up overextending himself or struggle to square up opponents before initiating contact, particularly when he’s on the move. Tended to run routes on passing downs, often out of the slot, but wasn’t a particularly significant part of his offense’s power attack. Ran a pretty simple route tree consisting mostly of ins, outs, and curls from the slot. Reasonably athleticin a straight line, but slows down considerably into breaks and doesn’t generate the type of explosiveness there to create separation; tends to rely on physicality instead. Has a big frame and long arms but lacks natural ball skills, leading to dropped passes. Pro future may consequently involve being retained in pass protection or coming off of the field on obvious passing downs. Didn’t take as many snaps there during the games reviewed, but plays with a good base and the lateral quickness to mirror, although he can lower his head and make himself susceptible to counters. A big, physical, and aggressive blocker who needs to clean up his technique and doesn’t offer much as a receiver, he looks likely to be more of a late-round pick or undrafted free agent, although he could develop into a role player in the run game with some work.

TE Kaden Smith, Stanford*

6’5” – 255 lbs. – 4.92
Highly-regarded recruit who did not play as a freshman, but made an impact the following season, posting 23-414-5. Enjoyed a breakout junior year of 47-635-2, then decided to declare from the draft. Listed height and weight are in line with pro requirements, but has a somewhat linear build and might be a little bit smaller than he’s listed. Lines up all over the field, often as an H-Back, but also as an inline tight end and split out as more of a receiver. Smooth athlete who glides through routes and looks natural catching the ball. Runs routes to different levels of the field and flashes the ability to sink his hips and snap at the route stem; good footwork to release and work through breaks. At his most deadly on deep curls and post routes which allow him to use his body and climb the ladder. Can dip his shoulder and slip past chips when releasing off the line. Able to find soft spots in the seams against zone coverage and punish defenses with vertical routes, or operate underneath, using his body to shield defenders from the ball. Able to leap and catch the ball away from his frame, adjusting well to high passes. However, tends to get disrupted by contact too easily for a player of his size. On his best snaps, gets set up quickly, positions himself effectively to wall off blockers, and plays with a wide base and good extension. However, snap-to-snap consistency is an issue, and problems crop up in almost every facet: hand placement, base, balance. Tends to lunge and lower his head; consequently, ends up on the ground too often. Works through the whistle and is willing to put his body on the line but doesn’t have the strength to dominate. Ran routes on almost all of the passing downs during the games reviewed rather than being held back in protection. Has the effort level and physical/athletic attributes to develop into someone who can reach second-level defenders and help in the run game, but there’s a way to go before he will be an every-down asset. Offering two years of production at a program known for producing high-quality tight end prospects, he will be attractive to teams for his fluid movement skills and natural receiving ability. Has the traits of a potential number-one tight end, but needs to improve his fundamentals as a blocker in order to maximize his potential. After running a 4.92 at the Combine, wouldn’t be surprising if he slipped into the third day.

TE Jace Sternberger, Texas A&M*

6’4” – 251 lbs. – 4.75
Also played basketball in high school. Originally attended Kansas, where he redshirted and then caught one pass over ten games the following year before transferring to Northeastern Oklahoma A&M. Spent one season there, then came to Texas A&M, where he became a starter and ended up catching 48-832-10 before declaring for the draft. Lines up all over the formation, taking snaps as an inline tight end, as an H-Back, and split out wide or in the slot. A very athletic, natural receiver who was one of the focal points of his team’s offense last year. Long-strider who accelerates smoothly and has impressive top-end speed. Runs routes to different levels of the field, and may do his best work at the intermediate level. Demonstrates good footwork going into his breaks, sinking his hips and creating throwing windows for his quarterback. Is a big target with a wide catching radius and soft hands. However, can struggle to work through physical coverage and make contested catches in tight coverage. Has some elusiveness in the open field to pick up yards after the catch, with the team trying to scheme him into situations where he’d have room to run. Not purely a receiver; also had extensive blocking responsibilities. Was often asked to line up as an H-Back and execute blocks on the move; on those snaps, shows the athleticism to pull across the formation, get out in front of outside rushing attempts, and engage defenders at the second level. Playing inline, fundamentals look pretty good in the blocking game; bends at the knees, keeps his back straight, gets his arms extended, and works hard to sustain through the whistle. Has a tough and competitive on-field temperament. Flashes the ability to get his hands on the chest plate and grind out some push with his leg drive, but is more of a wall-off blocker overall. There isn’t yet enough sand in his pants to hold the point of attack against opposing defensive ends. Wasn’t retained too often in pass protection, with the team preferring to try and get him involved as a receiver. A player who was asked to do it all at the college level and who offers a nice combination of size, athleticism, receiving ability, and competitiveness, but who will need to add functional strength to his game to be able to mix it up with pro defenders.

TE Isaac Nauta, Georgia*

6’3” – 244 lbs. – 4.91
Started five of thirteen games played as a freshman, going 29-361-3, then started nine games the following year, catching 9-114-2. Enjoyed his best season as a junior (30-430-3), then decided to declare for the draft. A little bit smaller than you’d like at the tight end position, with arms which measured under 32” in Indianapolis. Took snaps all over the formation for the Bulldogs; was often lined up as an inline tight end and (less often) as an H-Back, but would also play out of the slot on passing downs. Gives very good effort as a blocker, working to sustain through the whistle and down the field. At his best when he’s working as a stalk blocker. Is able to get out in space and frame up opposing linebackers or defensive backs. Demonstrates good arm extension and effective hand placement, and keeps his legs churning after contact to generate push. Understands positioning and does a good job of walling off opponents as an inline blocker in the run game. Lacks length but plays within his frame and generally avoids overextending; can sometimes struggle to lock on. Tended not to be retained in pass protection, being most commonly set out on routes. Ran poorly at the Combine this year but looks faster than that on tape, if a little bit linear. Disguises his intentions pretty well at the snap and can make his pass routes look similar to his run-blocking. Made a variety of different releases and has the straight-line speed to challenge linebackers down the seams. Can get inside position and use his body to shield defenders from the ball. Also does a lot of work underneath, making himself available as a safety valve, or as a target when the play breaks down. Doesn’t have the widest radius and made a focus drop against Louisiana St. during the games reviewed but otherwise looked like a pretty reliable receiver. Looks comfortable catching away from his frame with proper technique. One of the most productive tight ends in the SEC this past season, he combines enough speed to get down the seam with a pretty reliable pair of hands and good competitiveness as a blocker in the run game. Being an undersized tight end with below-average length who also ran poorly during the pre-draft process, may slip further than his tape would suggest.

TE Irv Smith Jr., Alabama*

6’2” – 242 lbs. – 4.63
Father and uncle both played tight end in the NFL. Wasn’t a factor as a freshman, but started to produce a little bit the following season, going 14-128-3. Broke out this past season, going 44-710-7 as the Tide started to pass the ball more, then declared for the draft. A little bit smaller than your typical inline tight end, which might force him into a flex role at the next level; appears to have arms which are a little shorter than his height would indicate. Lines up all over the formation, whether as an H-Back, as an inline tight end, or split out as more of a receiver. Well-coached blocker with a workmanlike approach and sound fundamentals. Able to reach his assignment, set up a wide base, get into his seat, and extend his arms to work through the whistle. Appears to have solid hand placement and grip strength to get inside and sustain his blocks. Tougher and stronger than his size would indicate and is capable of locking on and turning opposing edge defenders out and clear lanes in the run game. Comes in motion and shows a gritty approach to smash defenders in the hole as a lead blocker on inside runs. Tended to run routes on passing downs rather than staying in as an extra blocker. Can get out in front of a screen and work to engage. Good releases against bump-and-run coverage. Has choppy feet, gets low, and offers enough suddenness to avoid getting knocked off of his pattern by linebackers. Does a good job of selling fakes and slipping past to create open looks leaking out of the backfield. Has the speed to uncover against man coverage and exhibits snap to his routes, although he doesn’t always sink his hips. Route tree itself was a little bit limited, consisting of a lot of shorter in/out routes and delayed releases. Lack of size and length inhibits his catch radius, but appears to have a reliable set of hands within his frame. Secures the ball and gets upfield quickly, running hard after the catch. Interesting in the sense that he is an athletic, slightly undersized tight end who usually lines up as a flex and produced as a receiver, but whose most appealing trait is actually his toughness, consistency, and versatility as a blocker. In short, a player who maximizes his tools, brings a professional approach to the game, and looks like a solid bet to come off the board by the end of the second round.

TE Foster Moreau, Louisiana St.

6’4” – 253 lbs. – 4.66
Started one of twelve games played as a freshman but did not record any statistics. Started five games as a sophomore but managed just six catches that season, then started the final twenty-six games of his collegiate career, posting similar lines of 24-278-3 and 22-272-2 in his junior and senior campaigns, respectively. Team captain. Came in two inches shorter than his listed height at the Combine but still offers solid size for a pro tight end, with the frame to potentially handle even more bulk; arms measured 33.5” at the Combine, with hands over 9’5” in length. Was primarily used as a blocker at the college level, often taking snaps as an inline “Y” but also lining up in the slot or as an H-Back. The team frequently ran behind him in the run game, where he blocked in a phone booth and also came in motion or was asked to get out in space and lead the way. Chippy, physical player who works hard to sustain through the whistle. Not overwhelmingly powerful and lets his strength be sapped by some balance issues, but has the power in his lower body to successfully anchor against power and wall-off opponents. Places his hands high and inside and demonstrates good leg drive after contact to try and generate some push. Was often retained in pass protection and looks comfortable using his lateral quickness to mirror opposing defensive ends and ride them wide of the passer. Despite being a big target and having very impressive athletic testing at the Combine in Indianapolis (36.5” vertical, 10’1” broad jump), didn’t look like a particularly dynamic receiver at the college level. Ran a pretty basic route tree and was more often an afterthought or safety valve than one of the primary targets on passing snaps. Pretty smooth accelerator when releasing from H-Back looks but didn’t threaten teams much down the seams during the games reviewed. One of the stiffer tight ends in this year’s class. Based on what he put on tape this past season, would have regarded him as a blocking specialist who plays with effort and physicality but needs to clean up his balance to improve his ability to sustain through the whistle. After his pre-draft workouts, however, there’s a chance some teams will see him as someone who didn’t get a chance to demonstrate his receiving ability in college and draft him higher than his tape would suggest.