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2016 TE Rankings

April 10, 2016

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  1. Hunter Henry Arkansas 6’4 ⅞ 250 Jr. Henry has been on my radar since he was a true freshman in 2013. He graded out as a 2nd rounder then as you could tell by his frame, elite hands and quickness in and out of routes that he would be a starting TE someday for an NFL team. Since then he hasn’t disappointed as he’s been one of the best TEs in the nation every year and had a better grade by me than the #1 TE drafted last year Maxx Williams (2nd Round). 2015 Mackey Award Winner. His 9 ¼ hands are the smallest for any TE at the Combine and he didn’t work out except for 13 reps on the bench which was the 2nd worst among TEs. He isn’t a complete TE as he’s a weak player without much technique or passion as a blocker but as a receiving threat he’s very good. He’s fast enough to make big plays (his 14.5 ypr is above average), he has great quickness in and out of breaks which gets him consistent separation and he has great hands and is adept at high pointing the ball which makes him a great jump ball threat in the red zone. He lacks elite speed ala an Eric Ebron/Vernon Davis type or elite size/strength like Jimmy Graham/Rob Gronkowski so his ceiling is limited but he gets a late 1st round grade as my #1 TE as he’ll be a good but not great starter for the next 10 years 4/10/16.
  2. Tyler Higbee Western Kentucky 6’5 ¾ 249 Sr. Redshirted one season. 5 years removed from HS, he’s an older prospect. He didn’t work out at the Combine (knee sprain in conference championship game). He likely won’t be drafted due to being arrested 18 days before the draft for assault, alcohol intoxication and fleeing/evading police. He wasn’t considered a hard worker going into the 2015 season and “turned it on,” possibly just for the payday. On film he’s a very impressive prospect as he’s tall, thick and fast. He looks like a sub 4.7 40 type guy which is rare for his height/weight. Without the recent arrest I’d give him a 4th round grade due to him being a 3rd round talent with a questionable work ethic. The arrest likely makes him go undrafted but he might be worth a flier as an undrafted free agent to bring to camp. 7th round as my #6 TE 4/10/16. (Update: I’ve watched more film of Higbee and think he’s better than I gave him credit for, didn’t realize his 38 563 8 TD 2015 season occurred despite him missing 5 games!, and also found out more details of his assault charge. Apparently Higbee had never been arrested before and his “victim” had been arrested numerous times in the past 6 months. Details also emerged that Higbee was not the initial aggressor and that the man had been bothering Higbee and his girlfriend at a bar, they left the bar to get food at a food truck and the man approached them again which resulted in Higbee knocking unconscious the man. None of it looks good for Higbee but it seems like he got drunk and beat up a bothersome person and then hid from the cops in some bushes which sounds a lot more innocent than the initial charge of assault and fleeing from police. Each team will have to decide for themselves how they view Higbee as a person but as a prospect he looks more and more like the 2nd best tight end in this draft and a mid to late 2nd round pick on film alone. Add in this charge and his questionable work ethic and I’m changing his grade to early 3rd round as my #2 TE as he is the only prospect, other than Henry, that projects as a potential starting tight end 4/27/16.)
  3. Austin Hooper Stanford 6’3 ¾ 254 Soph Redshirted one season. He’s shorter than you want as a TE and his 4.72 40 as well as his explosion and quickness drills all are mediocre. He has good thickness to him and he is pretty strong for the position. He isn’t that agile and a lot of film shows him getting a few extra yards by running into defenders instead of trying to evade them for the much bigger gain. Overall Hooper reminds me a bit of Vance McDonald out of Rice a few years ago as a guy that is good but not great who will likely be a low end starter, high end backup or platoon starter. He settles in as a mid 3rd round as my #3 TE but could go higher simply because he is the clear cut next best TE once Henry goes off the board 4/10/16.
  4. Jerell Adams South Carolina 6’5 ⅛ 247 Sr. He had a 4.64 40, best time at the Combine this year for tight ends, to go along with very long arms (‘34 ⅜). The rest of his numbers were mediocre. At South Carolina he slowly improved his production each season with 90 yards as a freshman culminating in 421 yards as a senior. He never was a major weapon for the gamecocks but he shows NFL caliber speed in his routes, has long arms and is effortless in catching the ball so I see him as a bit of a sleeper. He has just enough speed, quickness and wiggle to his game that he could eventually develop into a low end starter. He reminds me a bit of Martellus Bennett in the way he surprises you with how agile he is for a big guy. Mid 3rd round as my #4 TE who is a bit of a sleeper 4/10/16.
  5. Bryce Williams East Carolina 6’5 ¾ 257 Sr. Redshirted one season. X-fer from Marshall. 5 years removed from HS, he’s an older prospect. He doesn’t have NFL athleticism with a 4.94 40 (worst of all TEs at the Combine), ‘29 ½ vertical (worst), 9’3 broad (2nd worst), 4.53 shuttle (worst) and 7.19 3 cone (worst). Fortunately for him he’ll be drafted as a blocking TE ala Michael Williams a few years ago out of Alabama. As a blocker Bryce is talented with great height, arm length (‘33 ⅝) and strength. On film he shows a passion for it and really gets after players. East Carolina used him almost like a third tackle so he will be used to his blocking only role, though he did have 588 yards receiving as a senior. While his speed and quickness are not NFL caliber his hands are dependable and his blocking is the best of any TE in this draft so he should find his niche in the league as a #2 or #3 TE. Early 5th Round as my #5 TE 4/10/16.
  6. Nick Vannett Ohio State 6’6 257 Sr. Redshirted one season. 5 years removed from HS, he’s an older prospect. A big kid with ‘10 hands, ‘34 ¼ arms and 6’6 height. He didn’t run the 40 but was poor in the vertical (3rd worst), broad (worst) and the 3 cone (3rd worst). He was rarely used as a receiver with 220 receiving yards his career high for a season! He’s basically a big frame that makes sense as a #2 TE who mainly blocks but occasionally slips out as a receiver to keep a defense honest. He should fit well in that role. Late 5th round as my #6 TE who will be a career #2 or #3 TE 4/10/16.
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