2017 NFL Draft: Tight End Rankings
Chris Ransom follow @DraftUtopia Last Updated: January 23, 2017.
- O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama Projected Round 1st Round
- 2016 Season Recap O.J. Howard should be used a lot more frequently during his senior year. Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake are gone so Alabama may look to Howard quite frequently after he impressed against Clemson. O.J. Howard was my top tight end in the 2016 NFL Draft before he chose to return to school. The 6-6 242 lb O.J. Howard has the size and hands that you look for in a tight end.
- O.J. Howard had 3 receptions for 39 receiving yards against USC. Howard failed to build on his career game against Clemson back in the 2016 College Football Playoff to begin the 2016 College Football Season.
- O.J. Howard struggled against an Ole Miss team with Tony Conner injured at safety. Howard's best game came against Kent State where he had 3 receptions, 60 receiving yards, and his only receiving touchdown in 2016.
- O.J. Howard's best game in 2016 came against Clemson where he had 4 receptions, 106 receiving yards, and 1 receiving touchdown. Howard put on 9 lbs of muscle to get to 6-6 251 lbs.
- O.J. Howard finished 2016 with 45 receptions, 595 receiving yards, and 3 receiving touchdowns. Howard accepted an invite to Mobile, Alabama for the 2017 NFL Senior Bowl plus he corrected his issues with route running. Even with the lack of production Howard is likely a first round pick regardless of what he does for the South team in Mobile.
- O.J. Howard had 38 receptions, 602 receiving yards, and 2 receiving touchdowns in 2015. Having 5 receptions, 208 receiving yards, and 2 receiving touchdowns against Clemson in the National Title game got Howard noticed. Howard underachieved in 2013 and 2014, but finally got noticed again after his career game against Clemson which helped Alabama win the 2016 College Football Playoff.
- Howard has the speed, hands, and blocking to be a starting tight end. Howard needs to improve his route running in 2016, but if he can show route running like he did against Clemson we are looking at a possible top 20 pick.
- Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss Projected Round 2nd Round
- 2016 Season Recap The 6-3 227 Evan Engram was the top tight end in College Football after O.J. Howard. Engram may have been the second tight end in the 2016 NFL Draft ahead of Hunter Henry, but Engram chose to return to school.
- Evan Engram impressed against Florida State. He had 9 receptions, 120 receiving yards, and 1 receiving touchdown against Florida State. Florida State has Derwin James and Nate Andrews at safety so getting by those guys to have a career game is a statement you need to make if you want to be the top tight end drafted in 2017.
- Evan Engram has had 1 receiving touchdown in 4 of his first five games in 2016. Engram had 9 receptions, 138 receiving yards, and 1 receiving touchdown against Alabama. Engram had a lot of success in one-on-one against Eddie Jackson. Engram had 6 receptions, 95 receiving yards, and 1 receiving touchdown against Georgia strong safety Dominick Sanders. Engram has made plays and had strong games against three NFL strong safeties and is showing ability to be a potential first round tight end.
- Engram improved his speed. The one concern with Evan Engram is blocking, but he's enough of a playmaker, that he may end up converting from tight end to wide receiver because he's so effective as a receiving tight end.
- Evan Engram finished 2016 with 65 receptions, 926 receiving yards, and 8 receiving touchdowns. Engram accepted an invite to Mobile, Alabama for the 2017 NFL Senior Bowl where he will play on the South team at tight end with O.J. Howard.
- Evan Engram had 21 receptions, 263 receiving yards, and 3 receiving touchdowns in 2013 as a true freshman. Engram had 38 receptions, 662 receiving yards, and 2 receiving touchdowns as a sophomore in 2014.
- Evan Engram had 38 receptions, 464 receiving yards, and 2 receiving touchdowns in 2015. Engram has the hands and route running you look for in a starting tight end. His speed and blocking could improve. Engram could be a late first or early second round pick in 2017 if he corrects those issues. Right now he's a third round prospect, but the clear cut #2 tight end after O.J. Howard.
- David Njoku, TE, Miami FL Projected Round 2nd Round
- 2016 Season Recap The 6-4 245 David Njoku has incredible size for a tight end. His lack of experience concerns me.
- David Njoku did a good job getting by Pittsburgh safety Jordan Whitehead in coverage. Njoku has the speed, hands, and size that you look for in a starting tight end.
- Lots of NFL scouts have a first round grade on Njoku. Njoku's route running and blocking are inconsistent. I still think Njoku has time to correct this.
- David Njoku only has 9 career starts in 2 seasons at Miami FL. He contributed in every game, but 9 games isn't even a full season in college and its only barely over half of a regular season in the NFL.
- David Njoku had 43 receptions, 698 receiving yards, and 8 receiving touchdowns in 2016. Njoku had an awesome season, but I honestly think he would have been better off returning to school. I understand his decision to turn pro with Brad Kaaya declaring.
- David Njoku redshirted in 2014 when Clive Walford was Miami FL's starting tight end. Njoku only started 4 games in 2015 as a freshman redshirt.
- Gerald Everett, TE, South Alabama Projected Round 2nd Round
- 2016 Season Recap The 6-4 240 lb Gerald Everett is the sleeper at tight end in the 2017 NFL Draft. Everett is lightyears better then his predecessor Wes Saxton despite having less experience at South Alabama then Saxton did.
- Gerald Everett had 49 receptions, 717 receiving yards, and 4 receiving touchdowns in 2016. Saxton accepted an invite to the 2017 Senior Bowl.
- Saxton will be on the South team at tight end in the 2017 Senior Bowl. It's easy to see why Daniel Jeremiah has a first round grade on Everett. I was going to give this guy a fourth round grade and put him fifth in my rankings, but he impressed me so much on tape that I've moved him up to fourth on my rankings and improved his grade from a fourth round prospect to a second round prospect meaning a strong week in Mobile may get him a first round grade.
- Gerald Everett did not start until his junior season in 2015. Everett has the speed, hands, route running, pass blocking, run blocking, and jumping you look for in a tight end. In terms of intangibles, Everett may be the most complete tight end in the 2017 NFL Draft. He showcased all these intangibles against North Carolina State on South Alabama.
- Gerald Everett had 41 receptions, 575 receiving yards, and 8 receiving touchdowns. If Everett improves on that in 2016 he could move up draft boards if he gets an invite to Mobile for the 2017 Senior Bowl.
- Bucky Hodges, TE, Virgnia Tech Projected Round 3rd Round
- 2016 Season Recap The 6-7 247 lb Bucky Hodges is an incredible route runner on tape despite entering his junior season at Virginia Tech. Hodges is the one junior tight end in College Football that can declare for the 2017 NFL Draft and end up getting picked. His size gives him the best chance of jumping O.J. Howard and Evan Engram as the top tight end in the 2017 NFL Draft.
- Bucky Hodges had 3 receptions, 42 receiving yards, and 2 receiving touchdowns. Hodges struggled against Tennessee and has not had a receiving touchdown since Virginia Tech's opener against Liberty, but I am really impressed with his route running when I watch his tape.
- Bucky Hodges had 6 receptions for 145 receiving yards against Pittsburgh safety Jordan Whitehead who is one of the top safeties in the 2018 NFL Draft. Bucky Hodges has the route running to be a starting tight end. He doesn't have the explosiveness and speed that O.J. Howard, Evan Engram, or David Njoku has on tape which is why Hodges is now my fourth best tight end.
- Bucky Hodges had 48 receptions, 691 receiving yards, and 7 receiving touchdowns in 2016. Hodges improved on his 2015 season. He's still a top 5 tight end despite declaring for the 2017 NFL Draft.
- Bucky Hodges had 45 receptions, 526 receiving yards, and 7 receiving touchdowns as a true freshman. Hodges had 40 receptions, 530 receiving yards, and 6 receiving touchdowns in 2015. Hodges could have another big season in 2016 and would be an upgrade at tight end for a lot of NFL teams if he declared.
- Adam Shaheen, TE, Ashland Projected Round 4th Round
- 2016 Season Recap The 6-6 270 lb Adam Shaheen has starting potential despite being overweight for a tight end. Shaheen has a tremendous work ethic and is Division 2's version of Rob Gronkowski without the durability Gronkowski had throughout his career.
- Shaheen added 7 lbs of muscle to be 6-6 277 lbs in 2016 having 57 receptions, 867 receiving yards, and 16 receiving touchdowns. Shaheen has incredible size and could be Division 2's version of Rob Gronkowski without the durability issues Gronkowski had coming out of Arizona.
- Adam Shaheen had 70 receptions, 803 receiving yards, and 10 receiving touchdowns in 2015 as a sophomore after becoming Ashland's starting tight end. Shaheen could be a day 2 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. If he declares for the 2017 NFL Draft he may be a day 3 pick in such a weak tight end group.
- Jordan Leggett, TE, Clemson Projected Round 5th Round
- 2016 Season Recap The 6-5 255 lb tight end is a top 3 tight end in the eyes of most experts. He's still a top 5 tight end in this draft, but I'm not as high on him as most though. Leggett will have a chance to correct that at the 2017 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.
- Jordan Leggett didn't get a receiving touchdown until Clemson's fourth game Georgia Tech. Leggett followed that up with a receiving touchdown against Louisville. Leggett is playing with some confidence and it will be interesting to see if Leggett can build on that.
- Leggett managed to play his best game of the year against Florida State with 5 receptions, 122 receiving yards, and 1 receiving touchdown. Leggett had 7 receptions and 95 receiving yards against Alabama.
- Leggett finished the year with 46 receptions, 736 receiving touchdowns, and 7 receiving touchdowns in 2016. Leggett had less receiving touchdowns, but his ability to catch in traffic improved.
- Leggett still has issues with blocking. Leggett also did not get an invite to the 2017 Senior Bowl which makes him a day 3 pick in my mind.
- Jordan Leggett was lazy until 2015. That year he had 40 receptions, 525 receiving yards, and 8 receiving touchdowns.
- Leggett impressed last year. He still struggled with blocking and catching in traffic against Alabama. I think he's a backup tight end at best to be honest.
- Jake Butt, TE, Michigan Projected Round 5th Round
- 2016 Season Recap The 6-6 250 lb Jake Butt knows how to block. If there is one third stringer with the potential to develop into a quality #2 tight end like Zach Miller at some point down the road, it's this guy Jake Butt.
- Jake Butt had 1 reception for 19 receiving yards. That 19-yard reception resulted in a receiving touchdown for Jake Butt in Michigan's season opener.
- Jake Butt has made plays for Michigan this year. He has the blocking and route running down. Good size and adequate hands have people believing the misconception that he's another Gronkowski. Butt's durability concerns were worse than Gronkowski's coming out of Arizona plus Jake Butt never stood out as a pass catcher before tearing his ACL leading up to the 2016 Orange Bowl against Florida State. This injury also kept him from playing in the 2017 Senior Bowl.
- Butt only had 4 receiving touchdowns in 2016. Three of those touchdowns came against Hawaii and Central Florida. That is the definition of a #2 tight end. Butt has a lot of qualities you want in a tight end, but the durability plus the lack of consistency makes him the most overhyped tight end in this entire draft period.
- Jake Butt can get you 20 receptions a year. His breakout season came in 2015 when Butt had 51 receptions, 654 receiving yards, and 6 receiving touchdowns.
- Butt is a terrific route runner. He has the ability to develop into a tight end that can be a solid #2 tight end. He missed the Army All-American game in High School and has not started all 13 games in any of his three years at Michigan. Even when he played in all 13 games he only started 8 so that tells me Butt is likely a backup tight end in the NFL, but possibly a quality backup.
- Michael Roberts, TE, Toledo Projected Round 6th Round
- 2016 Season Recap The 6-5 270 lb Michael Roberts did not do much until his senior season at Toledo. Roberts had 45 receptions, 533 receiving yards, and 16 receiving touchdowns.
- Michael Roberts was the best red zone threat in 2016. Roberts got invites to both the 2017 East West Shrine game as well as the 2017 Senior Bowl. Roberts is a late-round pick and getting invites to both of those games is the sole reason he moved into our top 10.
- Michael Roberts had 21 receptions, 234 receiving yards, and 4 receiving touchdowns in 2015. Roberts was an excellent blocking tight end for Toledo running back Kareem Hunt.
- Jeremy Sprinkle, TE, Arkansas Projected Round 7th Round
- 2016 Season Recap The 6-6 240 lb Jeremy Sprinkle was a backup at Arkansas. Sprinkle was the #2 tight end to Hunter Henry in 2015. Now Sprinkle gets to be the starting tight end for Arkansas in 2016. I think Sprinkle will end up on the South Team for the 2017 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama so he will get a chance to show if he's corrected his weaknesses.
- Jeremy Sprinkle had 3 receptions, 19 receiving yards, and 1 receiving touchdown in his first game replacing Hunter Henry. Sprinkle had a receiving touchdown in Arkansas's next two games. Sprinkle has developed as a red zone threat, but has struggled in his last two games on tape against Texas A&M and Alcorn State. Texas A&M has two NFL safeties and Texas A&M limited Sprinkle to 4 receptions for 48 receiving yards.
- Jeremy Sprinkle got suspended in Arkansas's bowl game for trying to shoplift. This guy was my #5 tight end back in the preseason, but huge character concerns along with a lack of production have Sprinkle barely cracking my top 10.
- Sprinkle had 27 receptions, 389 receiving yards, and 6 receiving touchdowns as a backup tight end in 2015. That's not bad for a backup tight end in College and a third string tight end in the NFL. Sprinkle's goal should be to work towards becoming a starting tight end.
- The most fascinating thing about Sprinkle is his blocking. Arkansas lined Sprinkle up at fullback as well as a third offensive tackle at times to open up the running game due to his blocking.
- Sprinkle is an awesome red zone target, but I'd like to see him improve with route running and jumping in 2016. In Sprinkle's defense, he's awesome at creating separation in the red zone to get open despite not having the most polished route running.