2016 NFL Draft: Top 5 Tight End Prospects: It’s A One Man Show…

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

It generally takes tight ends a year or two to get acclimated to life in the NFL, so the top options generally don’t make much of an impact in Year 1 (or even in Year 2).  It’s something we need to know, but it doesn’t mean that there aren’t some intriguing names who could either buck the trend or develop into top flight options before long.  Who are the top names to watch?  Let’s take a look:

1) Hunter Henry – Arkansas
He’s emerged as the premier option at the position, having posted an impressive line as a Junior (51 receptions, 739 yards, 3 TD) and the potential to develop into a true weapon in the NFL. Of course the fact that he’s not simply a pass catcher helps his cause, as per the following quote from Walter Football:

Sources have said they really like Henry, who is a balanced player and more complete than other top tight end prospects.”

That’s not to say that his ability to catch the football should be ignored, as CBS Sports gave this scouting report:

“His fluid athleticism at the position makes him a mismatch against linebackers and safeties and his size and strength allows him to overpower cornerbacks. Henry catches the ball well in stride with strong hands and focus, tracking and finishing in contested situations, rarely dropping the ball.”

He’s a lock to be the first tight end off the board and should go towards the end of the first round.

Projected Round – 1

2) O.J. Howard – Alabama
There was a time where Howard was being viewed as a potential first round pick, but now he’s not even the top tight end draft candidate. It’s not about the numbers (33 receptions, 394 yards, 0 TD), as Alabama doesn’t give him enough opportunities to produce. It’s this type of note, courtesy of Walter Football:

Sources say that Howard is a sloppy route-runner and needs to improve his blocking, but he is an intriguing athlete who could be dynamic receiving tight end.”

He has the potential to develop, given his athleticism and size (6’6”, 242 lbs.), but it’s going to take time and the right situation.

Projected Round – 2-3

3) Austin Hooper – Stanford
Another underclassman, Hooper had 34 receptions for 438 yards and 6 TD this past season tying him for second on the team in receptions and placing him second in TD. That shows how important of a role he played in the passing game, though he doesn’t have the same size as some other tight ends (6’3”, 248 lbs.). That doesn’t make him “small” by any stretch, but it’s something to monitor. As an offensive weapon, there’s certainly the potential to produce.

Projected Round – 2-3

4) Bryce Williams – East Carolina
The senior put up 58 receptions for 588 yards and 4 TD and while you could downgrade the numbers based on where he played, don’t let it make you ignore him. Just look at CBS Sports’ scouting report in regards to his talent:

“Value is as a pass-catcher with his long-striding speed and smooth route-running to attack soft spots in coverage. He moves like a wide receiver and catches the ball well in stride, displaying a good-sized catching radius and aggressive ballskills to pluck in contested situations. Williams is a tough, scrappy player who can line up inline, in the backfield and out wide, playing like a bigger version of Riley Cooper on the field.”

He’s listed at 6’6” and 258 lbs., so you would think that he also has the potential to grow and develop as a blocker. He’s not going to get the attention and accolades as players who went to bigger schools, but the potential is there to be among the better options at his position.

Projected Round – 3-5

5) Nick Vannett – Ohio State
He’s a big man, at 6’6” and 260 lbs., though he’s had limited opportunities in the offense. Over his four year career he’s had a total of 55 catches, with just 19 coming in ’15. That’s not to say that he can’t be a factor, but it’s going to be his ability to block and help open holes in the running game that’s going to be the key.

Projected Round – 3-5

Sources – Walter Football, CBS Sports, ESPN

*** Want a chance to win a Noah Syndergaard autographed baseball, complete with a “Thor” inscription?  Find out how by clicking here!! ***

Make sure to check out all of our Top 10 MLB Prospect Lists:

AL EastAL CentralAL West
Baltimore OriolesChicago White SoxHouston Astros
Boston Red SoxCleveland IndiansLos Angeles Angels
New York YankeesDetroit TigersOakland A's
Tampa Bay RaysKansas City RoyalsSeattle Mariners
Toronto Blue JaysMinnesota TwinsTexas Rangers
NL EastNL CentralNL West
Atlanta BravesChicago CubsArizona Diamondbacks
Miami MarlinsCincinnati RedsColorado Rockies
New York MetsMilwaukee BrewersLos Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia PhilliesPittsburgh PiratesSan Diego Padres
Washington NationalsSt. Louis CardinalsSan Francisco Giants

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *