In what is shaping up to be a very deep TE class, we go through and breakdown our Top 10 guys to watch in 2012. This class features mainly pass catching TE’s who may see more time in the slot than inline in the NFL. However its led off by the massive Joseph Fauria who should make all old fashioned TE fans appreciate his ability to catch the ball and block.
1. Joseph Fauria-UCLA
Fauria is a big TE target who is adept at getting down the field and making defense pay for putting a small CB or a slow footed LB on him. The former Notre Dame player almost left school a year early but decided to come back and show that he’s the unquestioned top TE in the country.
2. Jake Stoneburner-Ohio State
Stoneburner, like Fauria, had a coming out party on last year as he developed into one of the most reliable and consistent pass catchers on the Buckeyes roster. Stoneburner doesn’t have that ideal size for an inline TE but with many teams flexing the TE out into the slot there is no doubt about where he fits in the NFL.
Edit: Stoneburner was recently arrested and suspended indefinitely by Ohio State
3. Phillip Lutzenkirchen-Auburn
The interesting part about Lutzenkirchen is just how versatile he is, we envision him as a prospect who can line up in the slot, inline as a TE, in the backfield as an H-Back, and even in the backfield as a FB. He’s a good pass catcher with solid blocking ability and that makes him a dangerous and versatile weapon in a creative coordinators offense.
4. Michael Williams-Alabama
Williams isn’t the most athletically gifted prospect in the world, we all remember the play v. LSU last year when Eric Reid was able to out jump Williams on a trick play for an INT in their first matchup. He is however a big bodied TE who can move, catch the ball, and block. Williams is more of your classic TE who is able to line up on the line and take on a pass rusher or help out in the running game.
5. Kyler Reed-Nebraska
In the Nebraska spread option offense there are few more dangerous player than TE Kyler Reed. In this system Reed is the main passing threat, he has good size and athleticism and because of all the movements and fakes post snap its difficult for both safeties and LB’s to always know if it’s a pass or running play. They have to at times guess and that allows Reed to get open for big plays.
CLICK HERE for our 2013 NFL Draft Positional Rankings!
6. Jack Doyle-Western Kentucky
It may be safe to say that Doyle is the best player on the WKU offense now that Bobby Rainey had graduated. He is a likely H-Back transition prospect who reminds us a lot of Dallas Clark with a slightly lower level of athleticism. For the most part Doyle is going to only be a pass catcher in the NFL which is why he appears lower than other TE prospects.
7. D.C. Jefferson-Rutgers
This is a bit of a reach for us, but we are optimistic that a player who has never had more than 166 yards in a season will suddenly have a big year. Without Sanu we expect Jefferson to step up big time for this Rutgers offense and finally take advantage of his size and athleticism.
8. Ryan Griffin-UConn
Another prospect who trends a little bit more towards the classical version of what a TE is. Griffin has both advanced pass catching ability along with some inline blocking skills. He does have some experience in the slot but is probably not athletic enough to play there in the NFL.
9. Ryan Otten-San Jose State
Otten is an interesting prospect because most people probably don’t know about him. He plays for San Jose State in the WAC and gets minimal coverage due to that. He’s a big TE with soft natural hands, and good athleticism. He’s going to be a long term developmental guy going into the draft but he’s got the raw skills you want to see
10 . Luke Wilson-Rice
Luke Wilson is going to draw tons of James Casey comparisons since they are prospects from the same school, who ran the same scheme, have similar builds, and skill sets. Wilson is an H-Back prospect with soft hands and smooth route running ability. He looks the ball into his hands and then looks to get up field after securing the catch.
2014 NFL Draft Top 5 Tight Ends
1. Tyler Eifert-Notre Dame
In the end it may be one former ND Prospect (Fauri) v. another with Eifert the only real challenge to Fauria status as the #1 TE.
2. Zach Ertz-Stanford
Replacing Coby Fleener won’t be easy but Ertz is already a rather accomplished TE in his own right.
3. Dion Sims-Michigan State
Very similar to Clemson’s Dwayne Allen last year, Sims is a big bodied athletic TE who has great size.
4. Jacob Pedersen-Wisconsin
Pedersen is a classic Wisconsin TE prospect who best profiles as an H-Back/Slot option in the NFL.
5. C.J. Fiedorowicz-Iowa
Iowa has a long history of producing top level TE’s and lineman, and you already know that C.J. will be able to block.