Here is my initial pre combine look at the 2019 TE class.
I’m still in the infancy stages of my tight end work, but there a lot to like with this class, especially at the top of the list where we have a few really exciting players who could be catch-first weapons at the next level. I ran out of time, so there are no writeups for the last few guys. I’ll get to that soon and I’ll add more players as we move through March.
Over the next week or so, I’ll be updating all of the rankings and adding the combine data. This is when it starts getting fun for me as the heights and weights become real and we can really roll up our sleeves and start making the hard choices.
A short podcast is on the way. Hopefully up before noon!
It’s nice to be back!
|1||T.J. Hockenson*||6'5"||250||Iowa||Hard to NOT love this kid. He plays like a mini version of Travis Kelce with some Gronk mixed in for good measure. Seriously, this is a very exciting player—especially if you play in a tight end premium format as I do in many cases. I’m not done with my eval on Hockenson, but after a few days of looking at him, I know it’s just a question of how high I am willing to go in order to secure his services. He does it all. He can run routes. He catches the ball very well and adjusts to poorly thrown balls much the way we saw Ian Thomas doing in 2018. And, he’s a terror after the catch. He can block too, very well. If he is still on the board when the Patriots pick (which I really doubt), I’d be blown away if they pass on him.|
|2||Noah Fant*||6'5"||241||Iowa||I did a few hours on Fant back in January when I was watching Hockenson, and Fant could end up being my first TE off the board if he wins the landing spot lottery. This is a player who could excel early IF he finds a home that will give him offensive opportunity early on. The Bills would be a very interesting fit for him, but my favorites are the Saints, Raiders and Cardinals. He’s a good receiver who can really run for a guy at 240 plus pounds.|
|3||Irv Smith Jr.*||6'4"||241||Alabama||Hard NOT to like Smith, who brings loads of explosiveness and speed to the table along with a big frame in the slot if his team chooses to use him that way, but on film, his blocking is very good, so I’d expect plenty of inline usage as well. As with OJ Howard, we don’t see Smith doing ALL of the things we want to see on film and as with OJH, we are assuming that much of this is scheme related. I expect his full skill set to bloom over time. He’s another great target for those in TE premium formats. My guess is that he’s a breakout candidate by 2020.|
|4||Jace Sternberger||6’4”||250||TEXAS A&M||I need to watch a lot more of Sternberger, but he flashes often when I’m watching Traveon Williams’ film. He’s a guy who can create problems downfield for defenses. He’s a playmaker and this is what we’re looking for in our tight ends. We’re here for fantasy, not run establishment or protecting the passer. Sternberger has a very intriguing profile. He could move up as I take a deeper dive into his film.|
|5||Kaden Smith*||6’4”||246||Stanford||Another Stanford TE. We like these Stanford guys. They teach teh position well, just like they do in Iowa. Smith shows a very nice receiver skill set and is worth a look in rookie drafts IF you have time for incubation. Early returns at the top 12 level are not expected.|
|6||Caleb Wilson*||6’5”||235||UCLA||I’m very early on my filmwork with Wilson, but I already like that he has the look of a catch-first option. He flashed a bit last year when I was breaking down Josh Rosen. He made some nice chain-moving receptions that struck me as NFL level plays. He could be sort of a poor man’s Jordan Reed. Maybe. I’ve got more work to do here.|
|7||Isaac Nauta||Georgia||Smith is a classic tight end but he shows promise in those rare cases where they throw him the ball. My guy Jeff Lloyd put it best when it comes to Georgia players. “You have to watch full games.” He’s right. This team doesn’t really “feature” any players so if you try and use a “dominator rating” to parse the talent, you are just wasting your time. Smith feels like a TE with a classic NFL growth curve. Do not draft him for 2019 or even 2020 stats.|
|8||Josh Oliver||6’5"||253||San Jose State|
|9||Alize Mack||6'4½"||240||Notre Dame|