Draft Grades for Top 10 by Position - Tight Ends

By Lance Zierlein
March 21, 2013

In his Drafting the Top 10 by Position Series, Lance Zierlein examines tight ends.

Tight End Rankings

Tight End School Round
Tyler Eifert Notre Dame 1st/2nd
Travis Kelce Cincinnati 2nd
Zach Ertz Stanford 2nd/3rd
Vance McDonald Rice 2nd/3rd
Gavin Escobar San Diego St. 3rd
Jordan Reed Florida 3rd
Nick Kasa Colorado 4th
Jake Stoneburner Ohio St. 5th
Dion Sims Michigan St. 6th/7th
Mychal Rivera Tennessee 6th/7th


Solid group of tight end prospects and, needless to say, we continue to see more and more "move TEs" coming into the pro game from college.

Tyler Eifert is the best of the bunch when you consider his athleticism and his ability to fit in as a pass catching TE right away.  He's not going to be much as a blocker, but he's a strong pass catcher and with many NFL offenses looking to utilize their TE more and more frequently in their offense, Eifert's value is there.

Travis Kelce is just a notch below Eifert in my opinion and he is even more valuable for teams looking for a well-rounded TE.  Kelce's brother is an NFL offensive lineman and so it shouldn't be a surprise that Kelce shows outstanding form in pass protection and a little bit of nasty as a run blocker.  He can line up in the slot, as a fullback and on the line of scrimmage.

In reality, he's the most diverse TE weapon in this class.  There is baggage with Kelce and I recently heard about some comments he made during combine interviews that could cause him to slip in the draft.

Zach Ertz isn't a plus blocker and is just okay as an athlete when he's in his pads.  While I like his competitiveness and his productivity, I don't see any traits that really jump out at me.  I think he'll be a solid NFL TE, but I think he has limited upside.

Rice's Vance McDonald has a tremendous combination of size, athleticism and power for a TE, but he's really raw.  At Rice, he primarily lined up in the slot and we never really got to see him with his hand on the ground and firing off in the run game.  I think McDonald is just scratching the surface of what he could become, but I would be willing to be on the come with him.

I'm not having the love affair with Gavin Escobar that others are.  I see a player who looks passive at times as a blocker and who looks more like a fluid athlete than a football player.  With that said, he has potential.  Jordan Reed is another guy who is hit or miss as a blocker and I get concerned about his overall lack of effort at times.  However, he won't be blocker on the next level.  Reed can really go as a slot TE and he will be too much for an LB to handle.

In the "all-potential" list, I have to put Nick Kasa and Jake Stoneburner.  Kasa is a former defensive end and he plays like it in terms of his toughness and his lack of refinement as a receiver.  Kasa is a diamond in the rough to me and with more experience at the position I could see him being an effective combination TE.  Stoneburner is a former WR who has never bought into being a TE.  He's the best overall athlete in the entire class of TEs and I think he's got a chance to be a late round steal if he loves football enough to buy into his new position.

I see Dion Sims and Mychal Rivera as marginal prospects.  Sims has the size and blocking ability to potentially fit in as a 2nd TE, but Rivera is actually the more polished football player even though he doesn't really have any one facet that he's going to excel in on the next level.