2018 Draft: Tight End Rankings


For reference, my thoughts on 2017’s tight end class can be found here.

Additionally, I highlighted what I deemed as the Raiders’ “needs” heading into the draft over here.

What does Oakland do?

One of Jon Gruden’s first orders of business was to bring back blocking specialist Lee Smith. This was a surprise move, to me, but really shouldn’t have been. Lee Smith is the most obvious “Gruden Grinder” ever.

In addition, Jared Cook is still on the roster, a name that was thrown around early and often as a potential cut candidate.

Derek Carrier, who originally signed with the Raiders as an undrafted free agent in 2012, is now also back on the roster. He’s also quite the athlete in his own right.

Much like 2017’s running back class, it feels like too little-too late for tight end position. 2017 boasted one of the more historically deep, talented and athletic classes – ever. While there are a couple of names to circle at the top of 2018’s offering, and a few intriguing, mid-to-late-round options, trying to hit the bar that 2017 had set was always going to lead to some level of disappointment.

With that all said, I’m not really sure how Gruden and McKenzie approach this position. Gruden has retained/added two players that can block effectively, while also appearing comfortable with Cook’s presence for at least the immediate future. As a result, I could see them staying put, and largely ignoring the position – perhaps adding a name later on – or having the coin land on the opposite side, and grabbing another pass-catcher earlier on to support Derek Carr’s bounce-back season.

This year’s class:

Player’s to note:

Mike Gesicki, although not as productive as others in this year’s class, clearly separated himself from the pack with his otherworldly Combine performance. He’s a Vernon Davis-level athlete that’s just scratching the surface. The former basketball (and volleyball) standout has obviously garnered Jimmy Graham comparisons. This time around, I don’t think they’re that far off. Gesicki would’ve been right at home in 2017’s loaded class.

Mark Andrews is a bit more well-rounded than Mike G., albeit not the same athlete (very few are). He’s this year’s “big slot” prospect, which went to Evan Engram last year. The former wideout moves, like, well, a wideout, but does appear to “lumber around” here and there. He’s not going to eat up cushion or create much in the way of separation, but he’s going to be a factor in the red zone. Think somewhere between Zach Ertz and Coby Fleener.

Dallas Goedert is the player in this class that I wanted to write-off. I didn’t quite understand the hype (legitimate TE1 buzz that’s still continuing right up to the draft). I thought he was mailing it in, bailing on the 40-yard run at the Combine and his pro day. Then, he proceeded to test everything but the straight-line speed, and made me look kind of silly as a result. Now, we have the production, all tied in with above average athleticism. You’d be ignorant not to at least pencil him into the top three in this year’s class.

Ian Thomas is most assuredly one of “my guys” for 2018. The former junior college prospect posted a 91st percentile SPARQ score, and is quite obviously an athlete as you’re watching him on the football field. To bring it back to Evan Engram again, I think Thomas is a better blocker than many will give him credit for (which was the tale of the tape for Engram in 2017). In addition to the athleticism, Thomas is one of the more polished route-runners in the group. I think he’s more-or-less interchangeable with the names that follow the TE1, honestly. I like the Jermaine Gresham comparison.

I could probably just write “former basketball player” next to Tyler Conklin‘s name, as that’s all that really matters, right? In all seriousness, the former Chippewa has some of the best hands in the group; close enough to Goedert’s. A foot injury cost him the end of the 2017 season, which is at least notable going forward. 4.8 speed isn’t going to impress anyone, but the combination of hands and blocking, along with at least serviceable athleticism (there’s a drop-off after Conklin in that regard) have him higher on this list for me.

Notre Dame’s Durham Smythe has my vote for the best in-line tight end in the class. His ability in both pass protection, and the run game, standout from the moment you focus on him. His hands are reliable and we’ve seen him lay out before; he appeared underutilized at school, so here’s to hoping some team figures that out. Smythe’s blocking obviously gets him on the field early and often, however.

Hayden Hurst has a great story. He’s a good player now, and given his age, the hesitation is that he will continue to be the same player going forward. At 25 years old, how high could his ceiling possibly be? Hurst feels “safe”, and for some team, that’ll be a good thing. I can’t buy the Day 1-talk, personally.

As for the “best of the rest”, Mississippi State’s Jordan Thomas profiles as the classic “size/speed” prospect who will probably go a round or two earlier than most think. At 6’5″, 265 with legit 4.7 wheels, on paper, it’s hard not to be at least intrigued.

Catch me on Twitter: @StillRyanFive


3 thoughts on “2018 Draft: Tight End Rankings

  1. I like your grades for most part. Though I’m high on Daulton Schultz as great Y and I think he will be a much more utilized receiver as pro and showed good hands when thrown to. Honestly I loved last years qb class and liked the TE, but I think this group is just as good if not better. MARCUS BAUGH has true “elite” sleeper potential. Jaylen Samuel’s viewed by some as TE others is do it all HB. Goedert and Gesicki will be All pros. Thomas has that potential. I even think 9finger Fumagali could be a steal .

  2. Another want position but not a need. Also the TE class is pretty weak this year. Maybe they take someone in the 6th or 7th but for the most part in my mocks I don’t even bother taking a TE. They already have 4 on the roster and will probably pick up a UDFA or some other TE that gets cut.

Comments are closed.