Tight end was a position of strength for the Eagles last season. Zach Ertz had an outstanding season and really emerged as a premier tight end in the league and Trey Burton was a phenomenal role player in the Eagles offense. With Burton off to Chicago and Brent Celek hopefully onto retirement, the Eagles could be in the market for a guy to play behind Ertz.
The Eagles loved playing with two tight ends on the field and versatility is key. Ertz will like up everywhere in the formation so getting someone who can do the same and play in line will be important. While a number two tight end is likely not a first round priority; there are intriguing names in this class that the Eagles can get later in the draft.
10. Dalton Schultz, Stanford
Stanford has notably produced quite a few impressive tight end prospects over the years; including the Eagles very own Zach Ertz. Zach Schultz is the next in line and while he did not have overwhelming production at Stanford, there is plenty to like about his game. At 6’6” and 244 pounds; Schultz has an impressive frame that teams could really like. While he is very light for his size, with short arms, he does a good job boxing defenders out to make tough catches. Schultz makes his money as a blocker, where he is outstanding and played a huge part in Stanford’s dominant run game this season. Schultz flashes as a receiver, but there is a lot of unknown in that aspect of his game. Teams will like Schultz run blocking ability and his mixture of size and athleticism make him an attractive mid round developmental prospect.
Key Stat: All Conference Pick in 2017 despite only accumulating 220 receiving yards. His blocking was that good.
NFL Comparison: Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts
9. Troy Fumagalli, Wisconsin
Troy Fumagalli made a handful of highlight catches during his career at Wisconsin. He famously only has nine fingers due to a birth defect but that missing index finger didn’t keep him from being one of the most reliable targets in the country over the last year. Fumagalli isn’t overwhelming in size or speed, but he is a competitor. He is a tough player who has no fear throwing his body around as a run blocker or making tough catches over the middle. Fumagalli might fly under the radar after getting outshone during the combine, but money is on him having a long NFL career as a role player in an offense.
Key Stat: Accounted for 20% of Wisconsin’s passing yardage in 2017
NFL Comparison: Jim Dray, former Cleveland Brown
8. Tyler Conklin, Central Michigan
Tyler Conklin suffered a severe foot injury about a year ago that threatened his final season at CMU. Miraculosuly, Conklin fought back from injury and was able to return five games into the season and immediately asserted himself as the top target in the offense. The 6’3”, 254 pound pass catcher was a former basketball player and that shows in how he moves on the field. He is an impressive athlete who moves well for his size and has a feel for boxing out defenders at the catch point. He is incredibly competitive and fights on every down regardless if he is blocking or going out for a pass. Medical checks on that foot will be important, as will him getting a bit stronger at the point of attack as a blocker. Still, a high upside type of player who can reward a team if he is healthy.
Key Stat: Was third on the team in receiving yards in 2017 despite missing five games.
NFL Comparison: Tony Moeaki, Former Kansas City Chief
7. Chris Herndon, Miami
Chris Herndon waited in the wings behind David Njoku last season but made a big impact once he got the primary tight end role. Herndon is impressive at 6’4” and 253 pounds with long arms. He is muscled up and moves well, flashing high potential as a blocker and pass catcher. His route running needs work and he has some bad drops; but there is a lot to like about Herndon as a developmental guy with a lot of upside.
Key Stat: Second in the team in catches and touchdowns in 2017.
NFL Comparison: Ricky Seals-Jones, Arizona Cardinals
6. Ian Thomas, Indiana
Ian Thomas had a long, hard road to the football field including losing both of his parents at a very young age. Thomas took the JUCO route and eventually made it to Indiana where he flashed a lot over his two years despite fighting through injuries. Thomas is a freakish athlete who moves well and plays with incredible strength. His highs are absolutely among the best in the class but they come in-between stretches where rawness is evident and injuries are hampering. Thomas is a high risk prospect due to his injury history but the payoff is huge if he can stay healthy. He is notably of very high character, an incredibly hard worker and student of the game according to his coaches. No doubt teams will want him in their locker room.
Key Stat: Averaged an impressive 15 yards a catch in 2017 and scored on 20% of his catches.
NFL Comparison: Jermaine Gresham, Former Cincinnati Bengal
5. Jaylen Samuel, NC State
Jaylen Samuel is bit of a hard evaluation because no one is quite sure where he will play in the NFL. At a hair under six foot and hovering around 225 pounds, Samuel is built more like a running back than a tight end. Yet, NC State had no bones about lining him up in line and in the slot during his career there. Samuel is a fantastic athlete, as evidenced by his production as a kick returner (!!!) but he is very strong and also gritty when it comes to blocking. With a very unique physical profile, teams will probably like Samuel as a big slot receiver type who can also line up in the backfield and get carries.
Key Stat: 77 Carries (12 TDs), 76 Catches (4 TDs) and Nine Kick Returns (58 Yard Long) in 2017.
NFL Comparison: Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
4. Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State
When talking about small school prospects, they usually need to dominate the competition to get the NFL’s attention. Dallas Goedert dominated at SDSU with 164 catches, over 2,300 yards and 18 touchdown catches in the last two years. Goedert’s size (6’5” and 256 pounds) and athleticism made him too much to handle at the FCS level. Goedert is more a receiver than a blocker and has work to do on his route running; but he flashes immense talent as a pass catcher and teams will love him as a mismatch weapon at the next level.
Key Stat: Career Average of 15.1 Yards a catch over 198 catches.
NFL Comparison: Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles
3. Hayden Hurst, South Carolina
People will rightfully be weary of a guy who will be 25 years old as a rookie. Hurst started his athletic career getting drafted into the MLB in 2012 but his failed stint in baseball led him to a successful football career at South Carolina. Hurst is a good athlete who plays with a chip on his shoulder. He is an every down tight end who is reliable and will immediately impact an NFL offense. He is certainly maxed out, but at his current iteration he is a helluva good player.
Key Stat: 0 Dropped Passes in 65 Targets in 2017 (CFB Film Room)
NFL Comparison: Todd Heap, Former Baltimore Raven
2. Mark Andrews, Oklahoma
Mark Andrews is certainly one of my favorite prospects in the class. The 6’5”, 256 pound senior was a serious Weapon at Oklahoma for Baker Mayfield and should immediately emerge as a receiving threat during his rookie year. A former wide receiver, Andrews is an impressive route runner at his size and has soft hands. He uses his size well and flashes the ability to win in tight spaces. Most impressive is Andrews’ ability to create yards after the catch. He is not a classic blocking tight end, but a receiving weapon that teams will love.
Key Stat: Forced 10 missed tackles on 89 catches (CFB Film Room)
NFL Comparison: Coby Fleener, New Orleans Saints
1. Mike Gesicki, Penn State
Admittedly, I was not on the “Mike Gesicki is the best tight end in the class” train until he blew the roof off the combine and made me a believer. Gesicki’s tape was always really solid, but his combine is probably the best tight end combine in the last twenty years besides maybe Vernon Davis. the 6’5”, 247 pound tight end ran 4.54 in the fort, had a 41.5 inch vertical, a 10’ 9” broad jump and an insane 6.79 second 3-Cone Drill. Absolutely unheard of testing for a guy his size. He is more of a receiving tight end but puts effort in when asked to block. He is incredibly dependable catching the football and obviously has the athleticism to make an impact down the field and after the catch. He was limited in Penn State’s passing game by a weaker armed quarterback but he could really thrive once he makes it to the NFL. Gesicki is an immediate impact receiver who has room to grow as a blocker. Without a doubt he should be the first tight end off the board and he could go very high.
Key Stat: Lowest Drop Rate among draft eligible tight ends in 2017 (Pro Football Focus)
NFL Comparison: Kellen Winslow Junior, former Cleveland Brown
Which players make up your top ten?