2017 NFL Draft: Top Five Res

Story posted April 6, 2017 in Sports, CommRadio by Joe Esquivel-Murphy

The evolution of the NFL passing game means teams around the league are in need of good tight ends. Multiple teams lack a quality tight end and are in dire need of someone to help them out in that position.

Luckily for those teams, this year’s class is filled with high caliber talent. There are multiple tight ends in this class that can help out a team, especially the top five tight ends that will be listed below.

1.O.J. Howard, Alabama

The 6’6” 251 pound tight end from Alabama is clearly the best tight end in this class and in the past couple of years. The size and speed combination makes him a threat up the seam and has the ability to make plays after the catch.

One of the top aspects of his game is his blocking ability as he is one of the top run blockers in the draft. The production might not be there, but he played in a system where he was not heavily involved.

Howard compares to Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen and will have that type of impact on whatever team drafts him in the first round.

2.David Njoku, Miami (FL)

The 6’4” product out of Miami is one of the top athletes in the class as he ran in the high 4.4s at his pro day. That speed and ability to make people miss in the open field are rare and he has as much upside as anyone.

The knock on Njoku is his lack of experience as he only started one year at Miami and needs to improve his blocking fundamentals. Njoku is very similar to Vernon Davis coming out of college and expect him to be drafted in the middle of the first round.

3.Evan Engram, Ole Miss

The speedster out of Ole Miss, Engram ran a 4.42 at the combine and he will provide problems for defenders on the seam. At 6’3”, he is able to elevate over defenders with his 36 inch vertical and is able to snatch balls out of the air.

Engram is essentially a tall receiver as he runs crisp routes and struggles blocking defenders in the run game. He is similar to Jordan Reed and teams will be scrambling to get him early in the second round.

4.Bucky Hodges, Virginia Tech

The supersized tight end out of Virginia Tech is a nightmare matchup as he is too big to cover one on one due to his size. Hodges also has the speed and route running ability to consistently get open across the middle.

His main problem is catching the ball in traffic as he is unable to finish the process of the catch. Hodges only started playing the position in college and will grow into the position like Devin Funchess did at Carolina, so expect him to be drafted in the same area that he was two years ago.

5.Jake Butt, Michigan

The Mackey Award winner last year, Butt is a reliable receiver that gets open with route running over the middle. He is not the greatest athlete, but is able to get separation and make contested catches.

He is a decent blocker, but can fail to get to the second level on a consistent basis. Butt is very similar to Zach Miller, but his ACL tear against Florida State will probably see him get drafted in the third round.

This year’s crop of tight ends looks like it could be one of the best in recent memory as many of them are ready to play right now for teams across the NFL.

 

Joe Esquivel-Murphy is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism and Spanish. To contact him, email jje5139@psu.edu