A – Top Tier
B – Starter
C – Backup
D – Practice Squad
Recent Prospect Grade Comparison: Vernon Davis, A
1. Troy Fumagalli – While the only elite part of his game are his hands, Fumagalli is above average in every aspect of the game. While he was primarily used as a wing back type player in college, he has the build to have positional versatility. He is a good and aggressive blocker who can drive defenders back. He is also able to get downfield and block there, although he has a tendency to block with his hands toward the shoulder-pads which could occasionally get called as holding. He has a good feel for blocking, as he doesn’t miss his assignment often. He is an average athlete, and his solid route running reflects that. Additionally, he is not particularly instinctual in his routes, showing little ability to alter routes depending on the defense. His hands are both reliable and outstanding, as he rarely drops passes and has the ability to make impressive catches. He has great adjustment to balls and very good body control, allowing him to serve as a safety blanket for his quarterback. There are times when he catches with his body unnecessarily, but he can still extend well and catch with his hands. His firm hands help him bring the ball to his body quickly after the catch, enabling him to take hits and hold on to the ball. A tremendous feel good story due to his only having 9 fingers, Fumagalli is the top tight end in the draft.
2. Mark Andrews – Although not a special player, Andrews is a solid and well rounded as a tight end. He is not a great athlete, although he is big and strong and possesses good length. He is almost always split out wide or in the slot, almost never being in a three point stance. His football intelligence is outstanding, showing the ability to find holes in the opponent’s zone defense and improvise routes. His route running is average, and he is not particularly effective when faking out defenders. Additionally, he has very good short area quickness, enabling him to gain some separation. This also makes him a good runner with the ball in his hands, as he is extremely elusive. Although he is not a typical in-line tight end, he has shown in his limited opportunities that he can develop into a good run blocker. He is also very willing and capable at blocking downfield, but he sometimes misses blocks. He is not a super talented receiver, as he has some concentration drops. However, he is exhibits decent body control and solid hands the majority of the time. He won’t create splash plays at the next level, but he can be a good and serviceable starter.
3. Dallas Goedert – Although coming out of a small school, Goedert is a good tight end who is a top tier threat in the red zone. He has good positional versatility, with the ability to play tight, in the slot, or split out wide. He is pretty slow, even for a tight end, which contributes to his sloppy route running. This leaves him with not much separation, causing him inconsistency catching the ball. However, he has tremendous hands both individually and together, combining with his good body control to give him a ridiculous catch radius. He is extremely strong, making him able to box out opponents and win most of the balls in his direction. He is at his best when going up for contested catches, although he is more prone to relying on his size than out-jumping the defender. He is a good run blocker, exhibiting the power to push defenders out of the play. He can reach and overextend himself at times, causing him to block weakly in such situations. Although he is well rounded, he also seems to take plays off, limiting his upside as a full-time starting tight end. Based on his combination of size and catching ability, Goedert would thrive as a red zone tight end while being a serviceable option the rest of the time.
4. Mike Gesicki – Arguably the best receiving threat at the tight end position, Gesicki is a major liability in the run game. This is due to his inability to find players to block, and he lacks the footwork and agility to adjust to his bad blocking angles. He is an amazing athlete, showing impeccable speed, strength, and explosiveness. He is a very good route runner who can sell fakes and make smooth cuts, although he doesn’t make sudden cuts. He catches with his body more than necessary, but he has shown the ability to catch well with his hands. He generally lines up off the line, enabling him to be split out wide or come to block across the formation. He is at his best with the ball in the air, showing the talent to be an elite receiving threat in the redzone. His body control is outstanding, and he can adjust to poorly thrown balls very well. Additionally, he is amazing at high-pointing the ball and winning jump balls. He can use his size to body away defenders well. However, his hands are somewhat inconsistent and he can struggle with drops. He is built and plays like a tight end that will fit in today’s NFL, but the major holes in his game will be a problem for most teams.
5. Ian Thomas – A tough and hardworking player, Thomas is steady but flawed. He is mainly a receiving tight end, as he can struggle blocking in the run game. He has solid build and athleticism for the position, generally playing tight to the line or in the slot. Thomas’ biggest forte is his route running, and he can pick up speed to run the deep routes. His cuts are clean and precise, and he makes excellent use of fakes and his hands to outmaneuver defenders. He has a great feel for routes, making subtle adjustments to gain an advantage and separation. His hands aren’t particularly strong, but he generally catches the ball regardless of slight bobbling at times. Additionally, he the great body control to make spectacular catches, showing the ability to make tough catches near the sideline. He is neither a jump ball nor run after catch tight end, as he lack elusiveness and jumping talent. He is a fair blocker who can seal the edge, but he doesn’t drive defenders or hold his blocks well. While not overly talented at any part of the position, he is a solid prospect who will get snaps as a well rounded hard worker.
6. Hayden Hurst – Although commonly viewed as the top tight end in the draft, Hurst is a raw talent who relies on his athleticism. He is an immensely talented runner in space, even being given the ball on end arounds. He is fast and extremely agile, which helps him elude defenders as well as run good, refined routes. It is in manners such as these that he seems more like a receiver than a tight end, particularly with regards to his flaws as a blocker. While he is capable, he is not quite powerful enough to hold blocks and drive defenders back. Additionally, he will miss run blocks more frequently than one would like. However, he is quite able as a pass protector. He has solid and consistent hands, although he doesn’t make many “wow” catches. He can go up for balls using his size and elite athleticism. There are times where he will catch with his body, but he shows that he can extend his arms and snatch balls with his hands. He is very mature, due in large part to his time in the MLB and the fact that he is 25. He has tons of upside because of his athleticism and maturity, but he is still a very unpolished prospect.