We are six(6!) days away from the draft and have reached the tight end portion of our draft projections. There does not appear to be a frontrunner that will reach the first round but while it maybe lacking in star power this is one of the deeper drafts at this position in recent memory; probably since 2017. However, that class featured three tight ends who got their name called on day one. The sweet spot for this year is much later, more than likely around the middle of round two unless some team gets antsy. There will be plenty of options to choose from between round two the middle of round six with solid options no matter what flavor you prefer. Blocking studs? Got it. Big bodied catchpoint guys? Plenty of ‘em. Pseudo receivers? Of all shapes and sizes. We know with Pep Hamilton running his multiple tight end offense that Houston will probably look to capitalize on this class. Will it be a super athlete in the mold of Coby Fleener? Or perhaps somebody with a heavier frame like Jack Doyle?
Positional projections: TE
Trey Mcbride, Greg Dulcich, Jelani Woods, Charlie Kolar, Cade Otton, Jeremy Ruckert
Isaiah Likely, Daniel Bellinger, Cole Turner, Chase Allen, Chigoziem Okonkwo, James Mitchell, Grant Calcaterra, Jake Ferguson, Austin Allen, Curtis Hodges, Armani Rodgers, Gerrit Prince, Conner Heyward
Similar to the receiver class, this position group has no true elite star or unicorn like Kyle Pitts. On the flip side there are several options at a variety of skill sets that will settle in from late day two until late day three. You have traditional Y’s like Otton, Woods, Ruckert, Ferguson, Fitzpatrick, both Chase and Austin Allen. Then the Y’s who major in catching and minor in blocking such as McBride, Dulcich, Bellinger, Kolar, and Turner who could be paired with big slot receiving TEs like Calcanterra, Likely, Prince, Rodgers, and Hodges. Lastly there are utility H-back types like Okonkwo, Mitchell, and Heyward.
Who I'm High On:
Cade Otton, Jeremy Ruckert, Jake Ferguson, Greg Dulcich
While probably not the athlete Pat Friermuth was, a healthy Cade Otton would be getting talked about as one of the more complete tight ends in this class and is already one of its better blockers. In an eerily similar boat to Otton, Jeremy Ruckert’s recovery from an injury has limited his ability to show what he is made of during the process. Also like Otton, Ruckert is one of the few proven blockers in this class to pair with a receiving skill set that just was underutilized due to his school’s offensive situation. Despite his low receiving snaps Ruckert has some of the best contested catch numbers to pair with one of the lower drop rates of this tight end group. Dulcich is the winner of the “somebody's gonna reach for him trying to get the next great athletic mismatch” award for this class and probably has some of the best pure seam stretching ability even if his blocking is still being developed. Ferguson is a sleeper who will fall to the third day due to his average physique but strikes me as someone who can quietly get the job done at the next level.
Who I'm Low On:
Isaiah Likely, Charlie Kolar
Isaiah Likely is everything that haters say Drake London is. A glorified big slot receiver who has soft hands but offers little in the blocking game and has questionable speed. His closest athletic comparison would be Geoff Swaim who was a 7th round pick in 2015. That kind of movement ability hardly screams elite move tight end receiving threat. Kolar got the spotlight put on him during the Senior Bowl and it’s easy to draw the Tyler Higbee parallels after his great combine. However with good contested catch ability and elite athleticism he is basically a power slot who offers very little as a blocker and will likely be a red zone specialist. That’s a fine role but one that can be supplemented much later in the draft. To me he is stuck as a middleman who is not quite the athlete or well rounded prospect of the top dogs at his position, and yet he will still require a day 2 pick. It’s just an issue of value.
Who do you prefer? Should the Texans spend an early pick on a receiving threat? Sound off in the comments.