NFL Draft: Breaking Down the Top Tight End Prospects

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Florida Gators linebacker Antonio Morrison (3) tackles Georgia Bulldogs tight end Arthur Lynch (88). Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports


6. Arthur Lynch, Georgia: 6-5, 258 (4.82)

Lynch plays the position in the mold of Fiedorowicz, but he isn’t quite the receiver the former Iowa prospect is.

Lynch is a tough, gritty player who takes pride in pancaking defenders. He excels as an in-line blocker and does a nice job getting to the second level and taking on linebackers in the running game.

Lynch is only an adequate receiver, which hurts his draft stock in today’s NFL where tight ends are frequently asked to split out wide and cause mismatch problems for the defense.

The former Georgia Bulldog isn’t going to impress anyone with his athleticism, but he has reliable hands and will provide a big target in the middle of the field for his quarterback.

(Draft Projection: Round 4)

California Golden Bears wide receiver Richard Rodgers (11). Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

7. Richard Rodgers, California: 6-4, 245 (4.82)

It’s hard to know what to make of Rodgers at the position. Many have described him as an “oversized” wide receiver. Rodgers certainly looks quick and athletic on film, especially lined up in the slot or split out wide in Cal’s revived 2013 offense.

However, Rodgers’ workout numbers don’t show a lot of explosion or athleticism. Both his forty time (4.82) and vertical jump (31”) show sub-par athleticism for the position.

Rodgers is a good route runner and quick in and out of his breaks. He also has good hands, which shows up in the 39 balls he caught for 608 yards in 2013.

There is a lot to be desired with Rodgers’ ability as a blocker, but overall, he seems like a tight end prospect with a lot of upside who could develop into a solid player at the next level with some time to grow at the position.

(Draft Projection: Rounds 4-5)

Colorado State Rams tight end Crockett Gillmore (10) pushes off on San Jose State Spartans linebacker Keith Smith (31). Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

8. Crockett Gillmore, Colorado State: 6-6, 260 (4.78)

Gillmore is a towering tight end who is underrated as a receiver because he was more often than not used as an in-line blocker in Colorado State’s ground-and-pound offense.

Gillmore has great length and blocking technique, which helps him hold up well on sealing the edge in the running game. But he also has a lot to offer as a pass catcher.

Gillmore has adequate speed, but he has the soft hands and strength to make the tough catches in traffic over the middle of the field. The Texas native can also use his length to be a real redzone threat and high-point the ball over smaller defensive backs and linebackers.

Gillmore is my sleeper pick at the position and offers tremendous value on day three of the draft.

(Draft Projection: Rounds 4-5)

Tennessee State tight end A.C. Leonard (1). Image from

9. A.C. Leonard, Tennessee State: 6-3, 245 (4.50)

The Tennessee State product was flying under the radar until he posted an eye-popping 4.50 forty and 128-inch broad jump at the NFL Combine.

Leonard’s game is a bit raw and seems like a bit of a project at the next level, but it’s his impressive measurable and athleticism that have people talking.

Leonard is an explosive athlete that was used in multiple facets in Tennessee State’s offense. He split out wide and in the slot. He moved in motion, and even lined up in the backfield for the occasional handoff.

He seemed to do everything at the position, except block, and there’s the catch. Leonard really needs to improve as a blocker, but a team will draft Leonard this May knowing his potential impact in the passing game.

(Draft Projection: Round 5)

Oregon Ducks tight end Colt Lyerla (15) runs the ball in the second quarter against the Kansas State Wildcats. Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

10. Colt Lyerla, Oregon: 6-4, 242 (4.61)

Lyerla has a ton of talent and could be an early-round tight end prospect. However, major character concerns not only led to him being dismissed from Oregon’s program back in October, but they also have significantly dropped his draft stock.

It has been reported that several teams have completely removed him from their draft boards and won’t even consider adding him to their locker room.

On top of character concerns, Lyerla has not played football in nearly a year, so teams have to look back at his 2012 film to get a sense of the type of player he could be at the next level. This makes Lyerla difficult to evaluate.

With all of this guess-work, Lyerla’s draft stock has taken a hit. He may just find a spot in the league and flourish–he certainly has the talent at the position to do so–but at which round will a team see he’s worth the risk is the true question.

(Draft Projection: Rounds 5-6)

Fresno State Bulldogs tight end Marcel Jensen (89) runs with the ball after making a catch. Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

11. Marcel Jensen, Fresno State: 6-6, 259 (4.85)

There is not a lot about Jensen’s game that stands out. He has size, but sub-par athleticism for the position. He’s a decent run blocker and receiver, but he’s not outstanding at any one thing.

He could improve in a lot of areas, but he doesn’t have any one glaring flaw in his game. Jensen may not be anything special at the position, but he is a balanced player that could add depth and develop into a reliable tight end and special teams contributor in the NFL.

The Packers may take a look at a player, like Jensen, later in the draft to add some competition behind Quarless at the position.

(Draft Projection: Rounds 5-6)