2017 NFL Draft Prospects: Tight Ends

By Charlie Campbell.
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The top 2017 Tight End prospects available for the 2017 NFL Draft. * – denotes 2018 prospect. ** – denotes 2019 prospect.

This page was last updated April 25, 2017. Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.
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2025 NFL Draft Position Rankings:
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  1. O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
    Height: 6-5. Weight: 249. Arm: 33.88. Hand: 10.
    40 Time: 4.51.
    Projected Round (2017): Top-25 Pick.

    4/25/17: Howard could be a top-10 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft as he is seen as one of the top prospects. He is a rare mismatch weapon and a dynamic tight end. Many in the league feel that Howard is the best tight end prospect since Vernon Davis in the 2006 NFL Draft.

    Howard put his special skill set on display at the combine with a fast 40 and an impressive workout. In 2016, he made 45 catches for 595 yards and three touchdowns. Howard improved as a blocker and route-runner during his time at Alabama while continuing to be under-utilized in the passing game. After the 2016 season, Howard had a tremendous week at the Senior Bowl, where he impressed on the field with his receiving skills and blocking. Sources also said that Howard interviewed well with teams.

    As a receiver, Howard is a real weapon. He is naturally an extremely athletic and fast tight end who can get downfield quickly. Howard often burned man coverage and is very adept at finding the soft spot in zone coverage. He also has a big frame to box out safeties and the leaping ability with body control to make catches over defenders. Linebackers have little chance of covering Howard in man coverage; only elite NFL linebackers with great speed could cover Howard. He should be a tremendous middle-seam tight end who produces big plays for his offense.

    Here’s how one Southeast area scout broke down Howard: “He’s as close to a complete tight end over the last few that have come out. He’s a better blocker online than Eric Ebron and Tyler Eifert were coming out. Not as good of a route runner as either of them coming out, but I attribute most of that to how he was used. [Howard] looked pretty good at Senior Bowl since his game was able to expand a bit more in that system last week. Howard is probably faster than Eifert, and they have comparable hands. The Greg Olsen comparisons hold merit, but Howard is a much better blocker than Olsen coming out of Miami.”

    Howard could be a mismatch weapon in the NFL in the passing game while also being a quality blocker to be a three-down starter. Howard has upside and could be a dynamic NFL tight end. Howard has top-20 potential in the 2017 NFL Draft.

    7/30/16: In 2015, Howard totaled 38 catches for 602 yards and two touchdowns. Both scores came in the National Championship win over Clemson; that was a monstrous performance to help the Crimson Tide win that game.

    For the NFL, Howard has mismatch potential as a receiving target, but Alabama doesn’t give him enough opportunities. Sources say that Howard can be a sloppy route-runner and needs to improve his blocking, but he is an intriguing athlete who could be dynamic receiving tight end.

    Howard notched 17 receptions for 260 yards in 2014. The talented tight end was very under-utilized. As he proved at USC with Robert Woods and Marqise Lee, Lane Kiffin settles on one receiver and struggles to call plays for anyone else regardless of their talent or mismatch potential. Howard’s production went up in 2015 partially due to Amari Cooper and T.J. Yeldon being in the NFL.

    Howard flashed big-time potential in 2013. The freshman hauled in 14 passes for 269 yards (19.2 average) with two touchdowns. Howard is fast, has the frame to add size and is a dangerous receiving weapon. He was just scratching the surface of his potential in 2013.

  2. David Njoku**, TE, Miami
    Height: 6-4. Weight: 246. Arm: 35.25. Hand: 10.
    40 Time: 4.64.
    Projected Round (2017): 1-2.

    4/25/17: Sources across the NFL have been comparing Njoku to freakishly athletic tight ends like Vernon Davis and Eric Ebron. Njoku was excellent for Miami in 2016. The redshirt sophomore is a dangerous receiver who uses speed to get open and size to make contested catches downfield. He totaled 43 receptions for 698 yards with eight touchdowns in 2016 and would have put up more production if quarterback Brad Kaaya had been more consistent. Miami also split the tight end targets between Njoku and Chris Herdon IV. As a freshman in 2015, Njoku had 21 catches for 362 yards and a score.

    Njoku has upside to develop into a receiving threat in the NFL with the size and strength to be a blocker. At the combine, he put together a good workout that met expectations.

  3. Gerald Everett, TE, South Alabama
    Height: 6-2. Weight: 239. Arm: 32.88. Hand: 8.25.
    40 Time: 4.62.
    Projected Round (2017): 2-3.

    4/25/17: Many teams think Everett is a dynamic receiving weapon for the NFL. They love his ability to separate and get open for his quarterback plus his excellent run-after-the-catch skills. Teams project Everett to go in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft and have him as their third-rated tight end.

    Everett recorded 43 receptions for 648 yards and four touchdowns in 2016. In 2015, he had 41 catches for 575 yards and eight touchdowns. Sources have said there was a real buzz about Everett in the scouting community throughout his senior year, and he is often compared to the Redskins’ Jordan Reed.

    Everett started out his career at UAB and played one season where he caught 17 passes for 292 yards and a touchdown. After UAB ended its football program, Everett transferred to South Alabama.

  4. Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss
    Height: 6-3. Weight: 235. Arm: 32.33. Hand: 10.
    40 Time: 4.42.
    Projected Round (2017): 2-3.

    4/25/17: Last season, Engram illustrated that he is a dynamic receiving tight end for the NFL in the mold of Jordan Reed. Engram had excellent games against Florida State and Alabama. On the year, he totaled 65 receptions for 926 yards and eight scores.

    Engram is a fast receiver who is a good route-runner. He isn’t a big blocker for the NFL though, but he fights hard as a blocker and is able to contribute some. Engram had an impressive Senior Bowl to help his draft stock. He further helped himself with a tremendous combine where he had a much faster than expected 40 and was superb in the field drills. Some teams feel that Engram is more of a big wide receiver rather than a tight end. He stands a good shot of being drafted on Day 2.

    7/30/16: Engram had somewhat of a down year in 2015, but he played better late in the regular season. He had 38 receptions for 464 yards and two touchdowns. His blocking looked better at times, especially in the game against Auburn.

    Engram isn’t a drive blocker, but he is a good blocker in space and very good at cutting defenders. The Rebel is a fast receiver who is a threat in the middle of the field. As a prospect, he is a similar tight end to Jordan Reed and Aaron Hernandez.

    2014 was an even better season for Engram than his freshman year. The sophomore caught 38 passes for 662 yards with two touchdowns in 2014. Engram was a dangerous receiving threat who carved up Alabama, Auburn and Mississippi State. He needs to add weight for the next level and get better as a blocker.

    Engram had a breakout 2013 season that led to him being named an All-SEC Second-Team selection by numerous media outlets. While other members of Ole Miss’ superb 2013 recruiting class received more attention, Engram really played well in his debut for the Rebels. The true freshman caught 21 passes for 268 yards with three touchdowns.

  5. Adam Shaheen, TE, Ashland
    Height: 6-6. Weight: 278. Arm: 33.5. Hand: 9.63.
    40 Time: 4.79.
    Projected Round (2017): 2-4.

    4/25/17: Sources say that Shaheen is a freak athlete who has a ton of upside for the NFL. Shaheen is impressive in workouts, and team sources say that his tape showed serious receiving ability for the next level. Even though he is tall and thick, Shaheen has surprising speed and athleticism for such a big tight end. Teams think that Shaheen could be a versatile tight end to create mismatches in the passing game.

    Shaheen caught 57 passes for 867 yards with 16 touchdowns in 2016. The previous season, he had 70 receptions for 803 yards and 10 touchdowns. Some team sources even compared Shaheen to Patriots star tight end Rob Gronkowski.

  6. Jake Butt, TE, Michigan
    Height: 6-5. Weight: 246. Arm: 32. Hand: 10.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.71.
    Projected Round (2017): 3-4.

    4/25/17: In 2016, Butt notched 46 receptions for 546 yards and four touchdowns. Some team sources have said that Butt is a solid prospect and still rate him in the top-five tight end prospects despite his knee injury, which could impact his rookie season. Some sources think Butt’s blocking improved over his final year. He tore some knee ligaments in his bowl game, so he could slide in the 2017 NFL Draft.

    7/30/16: Butt contributed as a freshman (20-235-2) and sophomore (21-211-2), but took his game to another level under head coach Jim Harbaugh in 2015. Butt had 51 receptions for 654 yards with three touchdowns in 2015. He is a good receiver down the seam and uses his size to his advantage.

    Butt looks very good as a receiver in Harbaugh’s pro-style offense. As a blocker, Butt has potential, too. He was better in pass protection than run blocking last year. His technique isn’t bad, but he could stand to get stronger and pack more of a punch in the ground game.

  7. Jordan Leggett, TE, Clemson
    Height: 6-6. Weight: 258. Arm: 33.5. Hand: 10.38.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.73.
    Projected Round (2017): 3-4.

    4/25/17: On the season, Leggett had 46 catches for 736 yards with seven touchdowns. He is an athletic tight end who looks like he has three-down potential for the NFL if he found the motivation to block. Team sources criticize Leggett for being weak as a blocker. He has the size to block, but doesn’t have the attitude. Leggett is athletic with quickness and has the ability to make tough contested catches. In double-tight end situations, Leggett could be dangerous.

    7/30/16: Leggett was a good contributor for the Tigers’ point-machine offense in 2015. He totaled 40 receptions for 525 yards and eight touchdowns. It was a breakout year for the junior as he didn’t produce close to that as a sophomore (14-161-1) or freshman (12-176-2). Leggett also chipped in as a blocker. He has the capacity to rise as a senior.

  8. Bucky Hodges*, TE, Virginia Tech
    Height: 6-6. Weight: 257. Arm: 32.5. Hand: 10.13.
    40 Time: 4.57.
    Projected Round (2017): 3-4.

    4/25/17: On the season, Hodges totaled 48 catches for 691 yards with seven touchdowns. He is a dangerous receiver who can hurt defenses in the red zone. Hodges needs to improve his blocking for the NFL, but he could be an impactful receiving tight end.

    7/30/16: In 2015, Hodges had 40 receptions for 530 yards and six scores. Sources said that Hodges should go back to school and develop before going pro. That was the same recommendation in the report that the NFL Draft Advisory gave Hodges, and he wisely listened.

    Hodges was a redshirt freshman sensation for the Hokies in 2014, producing the best season ever for receiving production by a freshman tight end at Virginia Tech. For the year, he hauled in 45 catches for 526 yards and six touchdowns. During his redshirt season in 2013, Hodges split time at tight end and quarterback.

  9. Jonnu Smith, TE, Florida International
    Height: 6-2. Weight: 245. Arm: 31.75. Hand: 9.13.
    40 Time: 4.62.
    Projected Round (2017): 3-5.

    4/25/17: At the Senior Bowl, Smith had a decent week and flashed some receiving skills. Scouting sources from across the league have compared Smith to the Bills’ Charles Clay.

    Smith made nationwide news in 2016 by suffering a serious injury off the field. His pregnant girlfriend poured boiling water on him after arguing about him not spending enough time with her. The senior missed a game due to the incident, but returned to the field.

    Smith totaled 42 receptions for 506 yards with four touchdowns in 2016. He had quality production as a junior (36-397-4), sophomore (61-710-8) and freshman (39-388-2). Smith is a quick, athletic receiving tight end who has the potential to be a mismatch weapon. Some sources have Smith grading out as a third- or fourth-round pick for the 2017 NFL Draft.

  10. Michael Roberts, TE, Toledo
    Height: 6-4. Weight: 270. Arm: 33.25. Hand: 11.63.
    40 Time: 4.86.
    Projected Round (2017): 3-5.

    4/25/17: Roberts is a blocking tight end for the NFL, yet has some receiving ability. Scouting sources said that Roberts could be the best pure Y tight end in the 2017 NFL Draft. They say he is athletic enough to make some plays as a short option or in the red zone. Roberts had a quality week at the Senior Bowl, minus a few dropped passes. He ran very slowly at the combine, however.

    Roberts made 45 receptions for 533 yards with 16 touchdowns in 2016. As a junior, he had 21 catches for 234 yards with four scores.

  11. Jeremy Sprinkle, TE, Arkansas
    Height: 6-5. Weight: 252. Arm: 34.5. Hand: 10.75.
    40 Time: 4.69.
    Projected Round (2017): 4-6.

    4/25/17: In 2016, Sprinkle notched 33 receptions for 380 yards with four touchdowns. He is a good blocker and a functional receiver. Sprinkle is a sleeper tight end who could be a quality value pick. He had some issues at the Senior Bowl as he didn’t impress on the field or during the team interviews.

    7/30/16: Hunter Henry received the attention in 2015, but Sprinkle had a very underrated season, catching 27 passes for 389 yards with six touchdowns while also contributing to the Razorbacks’ potent rushing offense. Sprinkle played a lot in two-tight end sets for Arkansas. He could rise with more opportunities as a senior.

  12. George Kittle, TE, Iowa
    Height: 6-4. Weight: 247. Arm: 33.13. Hand: 9.25.
    40 Time: 4.52.
    Projected Round (2017): 4-6.

    4/25/17: Kittle used the combine to help his draft stock as he ran much faster than expected in the 40 and worked out well on the field. As a senior, he made 22 receptions for 314 yards with four touchdowns while playing in a rushing offense. Kittle had 20 catches for 290 yards and six scores as a junior.

  13. Cole Hikutini, TE, Louisville
    Height: 6-4. Weight: 247. Arm: 32.75. Hand: 10.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.67.
    Projected Round (2017): 4-6.

    4/25/17: Hikutini played really well in 2016, notching 49 receptions for 656 yards and eight touchdowns. The senior was a dangerous receiving threat in Louisville’s point-machine offense. Hikutini will need to improve his blocking for the NFL. As a junior in 2015, he made 19 catches for 348 yards with three scores.

  14. Eric Saubert, TE, Drake
    Height: 6-5. Weight: 253. Arm: 10.38. Hand: 33.5.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.74.
    Projected Round (2017): 4-6.

    4/25/17: Saubert showed his receiving skills at the Senior Bowl, continuing to use speed and athleticism to get separation from defenders. He will need to improve his blocking for the NFL, but his size allows him to match up with front seven defenders. Some scouting sources were raving about Saubert’s route-running in the seven-on-seven drill. In a talented tight end class, Saubert could turn into a really nice value pick on Day 3 of the 2017 NFL Draft.

  15. Tyrone Swoopes, TE, Texas
    Height: 6-4. Weight: 249.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.69.
    Projected Round (2017): 4-6.

    4/25/17: Swoopes played quarterback for Texas, but sources with multiple NFL teams are considering him as a future tight end for the NFL. They say that Swoopes has a good skill set for the position. They think he has hands for the position, but they definitely like his size and athletic ability to play tight end. Some teams think Swoopes could go in the early rounds of Day 3 at his new position.

  16. Blake Jarwin, TE, Oklahoma State
    Height: 6-5. Weight: 242.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.74.
    Projected Round (2017): 4-6.

    4/25/17: On the year, Jarwin recorded 19 receptions for 309 yards and two touchdowns. He had a good week at the East-West Shrine where he blocked well and showed some receiving skills. Jarwin is a sleeper who could be a nice mid-round value.

    7/30/16: Jarwin had 17 receptions for 200 yards and two touchdowns in 2015. He will need to produce more as a receiver to rise in the rankings.

  17. Sean Culkin, TE, Missouri
    Height: 6-6. Weight: 250.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.67.
    Projected Round (2017): 5-7.

    4/25/17: Culkin is a tough blocking tight end who could be a steal as a Y tight end candidate in the NFL. In practice at Missouri, Culkin developed his blocking skills against some tremendous pass-rushers, including Charles Harris, Shane Ray and Markus Golden. This past season, Culkin also did well against LSU edge rusher Arden Key.

    Culkin also produced as a receiver, catching 24 passes for 282 yards in 2016. He chipped in as a junior (16-139) and sophomore (20-174) as well, but Missouri was primarily a rushing team during his time with the program. Culkin could be a quality rotational player and provide good depth quickly given his blocking ability.

  18. Taylor McNamara, TE, USC
    Height: 6-6. Weight: 265.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.72.
    Projected Round (2017): 5-7.

    4/25/17: McNamara made 12 receptions for 111 yards and a touchdown in 2016. He had a quality week of practice at the East-West Shrine.

    7/30/16: McNamara is more of a blocking tight end for the Trojans. Last year, he had 12 receptions for 83 yards with four touchdowns.

  19. Antony Auclair, TE, Canada
    Height: 6-5. Weight: 254.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.73.
    Projected Round (2017): 5-7.

    4/25/17: The Canadian product impressed some sources with receiving ability at the East-West Shrine. He showed some quickness and good route-running. Auclair could be a nice late-round pick who ends up developing into a contributor.

  20. Pharaoh Brown, TE, Oregon
    Height: 6-6. Weight: 255. Arm: 35.38. Hand: 10.38.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.68.
    Projected Round (2017): 5-7.

    4/25/17: Brown missed some time with injuries in 2016. On the year, he recorded 33 receptions for 426 yards and five touchdowns.

    7/30/16: Brown redshirted last year after suffering a knee injury in 2014. In the spring game, he flashed his old form, which is great news for his NFL hopes. Prior to his injury in 2014, he had 25 receptions for 420 yards with six touchdowns. Brown has some receiving skills and could end up rising.

  21. Josiah Price, TE, Michigan State
    Height: 6-4. Weight: 252.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.78.
    Projected Round (2017): 6-FA.

    4/25/17: Price totaled 38 receptions for 387 yards and five touchdowns in 2016. He was more of a blocking tight end in Michigan State’s offense.

    7/30/16: Price had a good year for Michigan State. He was a solid blocker and contributed 23 receptions for 267 yards and six touchdowns. As a sophomore (16-374-6) and freshman (17-210-4), his statlines were varied, but decent. Price will have the challenge of working with a new quarterback as a senior.

  22. Johnny Mundt, TE, Oregon
    Height: 6-4. Weight: 252.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.67.
    Projected Round (2017): 7-FA.

    4/25/17: Mundt recorded 23 receptions for 334 yards and four touchdowns in 2016. He missed four games early in the season due to an injury.

    7/30/16: Mundt flashed real promise as a freshman when he caught 16 passes for 281 yards and three touchdowns. He was expected to break out in 2014, but injuries and poor blocking made it a lost year. He missed 12 games and had just two receptions for 29 yards on the season. Last year was terrible for Mundt as well, as he had five receptions for 39 yards and a score. Mundt has athleticism and receiving ability.

  23. Evan Baylis, TE, Oregon
    Height: 6-6. Weight: 250.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.78.
    Projected Round (2017): 7-FA.

    4/25/17: In 2016, Baylis made nine catches for 68 yards and a touchdown.

    7/30/16: Baylis has played over other talented receivers because he is more well-rounded with the ability to contribute as a blocker. In 2015, Baylis caught 16 passes for 229 yards and a touchdown. The previous season, he had 15 catches for 143 yards and a score. While Baylis isn’t a dynamic receiver, he does contribute on special teams as well.

  24. Billy Freeman, TE, San Jose State
    Height: 6-3. Weight: 232.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.68.
    Projected Round (2017): FA.

    4/25/17: Freeman had 18 receptions for 212 yards and one touchdown in 2016.

    7/30/16: Freeman put up some strong numbers as a junior with 48 receptions for 586 yards and six touchdowns. He also had production as a sophomore (19-182-1) and freshman (27-427-2). Freeman could stand to add weight and improve as a blocker for the NFL.

  25. Connor Cella, TE, Rice
    Height: 6-3. Weight: 240.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.67.
    Projected Round (2017): FA.

    4/25/17: Cella recorded 31 receptions for 302 yards and a touchdown in 2016.

    7/30/16: Cella had 13 receptions 209 yards and a touchdown in 2015. He had 13 receptions for 130 yards and a touchdown as a freshman in 2013. Cella broke his ribs and then his ankle to limit his 2014 season to three games with one reception for five yards.

2023 NFL Draft Position Rankings:
QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | NT | 3-4 OLB | 3-4 DE | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K | P

2024 NFL Draft Position Rankings:
QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | NT | 3-4 OLB | 3-4 DE | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K | P

2025 NFL Draft Position Rankings:
QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | NT | 3-4 OLB | 3-4 DE | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K | P

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