For fantasy, it takes more time for the TE than other positions to solidify their place as a bonafide stud among the other established stars. I usually do not recommend investing a lot of capital in a TE but you may have heard that this is one of the better TE classes for some time (if not the best). This season it’s more worth it than others to pay attention to the Tight Ends. In real football if you are going to get on the field you have to block and block well. Many of the top ten listed here haven’t done much blocking in their college career. This is for the coaching staff to figure out, not us. Fortunately, some of these guys do know how to block so they get a tie breaker if I have a hard time splitting them.
I’m basing my ranks on what I believe the Tight End’s overall talent to be, their potential to help an NFL team win, and which players can potentially provide optimum Fantasy output.
Note: I can, and will, change my rankings at any time.
1. O.J. Howard – Alabama 6’5.6” 251
Howard has star written all over him. He has the athleticism, the body, and the maturity to take his game to the next level. I don’t think he has scratched the surface of what kind of difference maker he can be in the league. I hate to use someone else’s NFL comparison but I see what Mike Mayock is saying when he sees Greg Olson in Howard’s game. I would like to point out that he ran the same time in the 40 as Leonard Fournette but is 5.6 inches taller and 11 pounds heavier. Hello!
Scouting notes: Has the athleticism to be a Move TE but does some work inline. Love the all around game. Somewhat elusive in space. Doesn’t flash too much in this area. Makes the contested catch. Routes look strong. Very solid blocker. I watched him block DE Miles Garrett all day. Against Clemson in the 2015 & 2016 Championship he was outstanding. 4/106/1 in 2016. Gets criticized for not having enough fire and I don’t see evidence of that on the field in any sense other than blocking. Lack of production is an eye sore. 45/595/3 in 2016. 38/602/2 in 2015. 22 Bench reps. He gets the Jimmy Graham comp a lot and it makes sense to me. Looks like he could have been a Power Forward.
2. Evan Engram – Ole Miss 6’3” 234
When TEs run in the low 4.4s you notice. He’s not just a big WR, he does a lot more than that. He is such a great weapon I can’t wait to see him in the NFL. He is the next coming of Aaron Hernandez and ONLY in the good way.
Scouting notes: The quickest and fastest TE in the 2017 class. Definitely an H-Back or Flex in the NFL. Runs all kinds of routes. Can make the catch and take a big hit. Great concentration and body control like a WR. From a basketball family (Dad, Mom, and Sister). High points great, especially in RZ. Blocks well even as a smaller TE. Lots of effort. Seems like a really professional guy. 65/926/8 in 2016.
3. David Njoku – Miami (FL) 6’4” 246
The most exciting TE in this draft. If you like Njoku the most in this draft class I wouldn’t be surprised. He’s raw but he will be a fun player to watch develop.
Scouting notes: R-Soph. Prototypical Move/Flex TE. Certified freak athlete. Playmaker/Great ball skills. 50% In-line/50% lines up as a WR. Mostly slot. Amazing route running for a TE. OUTstanding YAC. Is an average blocker. Needs work in this area and sometimes seems disinterested. Overall pretty raw. Started 9 games out of 24 for college career. 43/698/8 in 2016. 21 Reps. Seems like a really professional guy. Comes from a big and talented family, originally from Nigeria. Was the national high jump champion (6’11”) as Senior in HS.
4. Jordan Leggett – Clemson 6’5.5” 260
More of a complete TE than the two directly ahead of him but they have more upside to me. Leggett definitely has a chance to be a big fantasy factor. He might have been the best TE last year had he come out.
Scouting notes: Plays in-line or Flex. Outstanding athleticism. A ton of functional speed for a big man leads to a number of big plays. I’m shocked his athletic numbers aren’t better. Solid hands catcher can make the amazing catch seem routine. Really good ball skills and range. Could have declared early. Mediocre blocker. Decent In-line but not so much on the move. Not very aggressive overall. Once had the nickname “Lazy Leggett”. 46/726/7 (16 ypc) in 2016. 10 3/8in hands. 4.49 20 shuttle.
5. Jake Butt – Michigan 6’5.4”
Scouting Notes: Prototypical Inline position/Throwback TE. Reliable hands. High points well. Good YAC. Fights off tackles. Adjusts to bad throws pretty well. Not very fast but just enough. Really solid route runner but does struggle getting separation. No 100 yard game in 2016. Excellent blocker on the line and in space but doesn’t always dominate in this area. Tore ACL in last bowl game. 46/546/4 in 2016. Could have declared as a Jr easy. Was a four-year starter. Probably the safest TE pick in this draft.
6. Bucky Hodges – Virginia Tech 6’6” 257
Scouting notes: Freak! Flex-TE. Total miss-match guy. Solid adjustment to passes. Good range. Nice body control. Normally wins jump balls over smaller DBs. He’s too fast for LBs. They use him on screens. It’s weird he is listed as a TE because he never blocks on the line. He is lined up outside very often. Run blocks a little. Former QB. 11’2″ Broad is TE Combine Record. At the combine he looked awful in 3 pt stance blocking drills since he never did it in college. 48/691/7 in 2016.
7. Gerald Everett – South Alabama 6’3” 239
This is the wild card of the TE class. I might end up too low on him when everything is said and done.
Scouting notes: Move/Flex TE. Functional speed is good. Flashes great YAC. Tremendous balance. Good hand technique. Excellent concentration on the catch. Does not utilize 3 pt stance. Almost zero effort in blocking and if he does he shoots for the legs. It’s like he knows thats not what he is there to do. Led the team in receptions the last two years. 49/717/4 in 2016. 49 catches in 53 targets! 22 Bench reps. Has super small 8 1/2in hands! Spent two years at Hutchingson Community College due to bad test scores when being recruited.
8. Adam Shaheen – Ashland 6’5” 277
Shaheen is a bit of an unknown. He was dominant in Division 2. Will his game translate to the pros? If so, he reminds me of a Gary Barnidge.
Scouting notes: Very versatile as Inline or Flex TE. Impressive concentration on catches. 24 bench reps. The body looks like Gronk. Quick feet for such a big man. Great blocker but against smaller guys than he will see in the league. 57/867/16 in 2016. 70/803/10 in 2015. Former college bball player.
9. Michael Roberts – Toledo 6’4” 270
Scouting notes: Big target with 11.5 in soft hands. A little slow-footed but still finds ways to get open. Fights off defenders. Very physical because he has to be. Not too many big plays but solid in the RZ. More of a possession guy. Shrine Game attendee. Smashes guys when run blocking. Played inline, wing, and the slot. 45/553/16 (most TDs by TE in NCAA) in 2016.
10. Jeremy Sprinkle – Arkansas 6’5” 252
Scouting notes: Long stride. Good range. High points well with decent body control. Kinda lumbers a bit. Get’s a little bit of separation with his length and huge reach. Impressive burst after the catch. Looked A little raw in 2015 but looked much better in 2016. Understands how to block Inline and on the run. Also is able to shed blocks and pick up blitzes. 33/380/4 in 2016. Some character questioning after he attempted to steal items that were worth more than $450 during a shopping spree.
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