NFL Draft Scout analyst Ric Serritella has been covering the draft for nearly two decades, gaining a reputation around the league as one of the most dependable resources for insider information. He provides a positional preview of his top five players at each position, along with a small school prospect worth keeping an eye on come draft weekend!
Top 5 Tight Ends
T.J. Hockenson, Iowa – A first down waiting to happen, you might as well call him, “Mr. Automatic.” Hockenson plays beyond the whistle. He would be an all-pro fullback, the fact that he possesses the size to play tight end and can be a receiving threat as well, makes him a blue chip prospect at his position. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Hockenson go in the top ten.
Noah Fant, Iowa – A rare athlete at his position, Fant’s size and tantalizing athleticism, along with his 40” vertical, has NFL talent evaluators salivating. He possesses short area quickness and ability to separate, which makes it naturally easy for him to get open. Iowa capitalized on creating mismatches in his favor, lining him up in the slot, outside and at h-back.
Irv Smith, Alabama – One of the breakout performers of the 2018 college football season Smith Jr. brings NFL pedigree with him, as the son of former New Orleans Saints first-round pick, Irv Sr. He flashes impressive athletic traits, so as long as his size doesn’t hinder him at the next level, Smith has the makings of being an ample weapon, a la Jordan Reed (Redksins).
Jace Sternberger, Texas A&M – One of the more explosive tight end prospects in college football last year, Sternberger possesses a great mix of block, catch and run skills. Was named Offensive MVP, awarded the Strength and Conditioning Offensive Aggie Award and plays with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. Teams may be leery of the limited body of work but the intangibles are enticing.
Drew Sample, Washington – An exceptional blocker and above average pass catcher, Sample is a noted hard worker and mature player (he was married during this past summer). He adapts well to poorly thrown balls, shows adequate bend, excellent length and has deceptive athleticism. After a prodigious performance at the Senior Bowl, his stock is at an all-time high.
Small School Sleeper
Keenen Brown, Texas State – He put himself on the NFL radar at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. A wide out in a tight end’s body, Brown grew into his position after a foot injury suffered during his time at Oklahoma State. During the rehab process, he packed on 40 pounds, leading to his eventual position switch when he transferred to Texas State. While a bit raw, Brown possesses a chiseled frame and big upside.
*For expansive player rankings in even more in-depth scouting reports, be sure to download Ric Serritella’s 2019 NFL Draft Bible, available here.