Tight Ends (Class of 2023)
70% film / 30% analytics
Tier 1: 75.00 & over -- Gold Jacket potential
Tier 2: 65.00 - 74.99 -- Pro-bowler/Schematic focal point
Tier 3: 55.00 - 64.99 -- Long-term starter ceiling/Upside playmaker
Tier 4: 45.00 - 54.99 -- Capable starter/High ceiling project
Tier 5: 35.00 - 44.99 -- Spot producer
Tier 6: 34.99 & below -- Career backup
Tier 2: Pro-bowler
Michael Mayer | Notre Dame
Film grade: 41.12
Analytic grade: 24.50
Ascension grade: 65.62
-- One of the safer prospects in this draft cycle - will immediately bring a physical element to both the run & pass game.
-- Some are sour on him because he lacks big-play ability at the position, however his 99th percentile presence in the Red-zone makes up for his lack of surface-level athleticism.
-- His post-catch skillset is high-end for the position - bulldozer in the open field with impressive balance post-contact for 255 + lbs.
-- Analytically, he is one of the highest scorers in this cycle. 95th + percentile experience adjusted production and college dominator.
-- Blast from the near past with Heath Miller as Mayer's ceiling comparable. Miller was a two-time pro-bowler with nine seasons of over 500 yards receiving. Think Mayer can make a similar impact in terms of production and have a long career as a starting-caliber player.
Ceiling outcome -- Heath Miller
Floor outcome -- Hunter Henry
Tier 3: Upside playmaker
Dalton Kincaid | Utah
Film grade: 42.00
Analytic grade: 22.24
Ascension grade: 64.24
-- Underrated playmaker who will bring upper-percentile in-air athletic ability to an NFL offense. Dextrous, and precise at tracking the football appropriately. Highest film grade in this cycle at the position.
-- Not a mega-athlete on the surface level, but has a great skillset that creates hidden yards post-catch.
-- Lines up all over the formation. Has spent extensive time in both the slot, and out wide. Should have a sizeable role in an offense with the versatility he offers.
-- Analytically, he checks a lot of boxes - 90th percentile college dominator and yards per reception. 60th percentile or better in all analytic scores.
-- With his versatility and skillset on contested opportunities the high-end outcome is Mark Andrews. Each have some distinct similarities to their games - Andrews has four seasons with over 80 targets and three seasons with over 800 yards already in his career.
-- Kincaid is the Tight End I want in fantasy out of this year's crop - highest production ceiling.
Ceiling outcome -- Mark Andrews
Floor outcome -- Dawson Knox
Tier 3: Upside playmaker
Sam LaPorta | Iowa
Film grade: 40.86
Analytic grade: 14.50
Ascension grade: 55.36
-- The Iowa Hawkeyes churn them out. Fant, Hockenson, Kittle in recent memory - LaPorta, another talented addition to Tight End U.
-- Fluid, and tough to bring down after the catch. Competitive as well as a blocker.
-- This fluidity shows up in route and helps him separate from backers at the intermediate level.
-- Traditional in-line player at Iowa, but did split out or play in the slot 48% of the time.
-- Analytically, he is good in some areas, and poor in others. 80th-percentile college dominator, 40th-percentile yards per reception and only one touchdown this past season bring questions to his Red-Zone skillset.
-- See a bit of Austin Hooper in Laporta. A competitive athlete who is better than expected after the catch and down the field. Can be a solid contributor to an NFL offense like Hooper was in Atlanta, where he had over two seasons with 70 receptions and 650 yards.
Ceiling outcome -- Austin Hooper
Floor outcome -- Harrison Bryant
Tier 4: High ceiling project
Darnell Washington | Georgia
Film grade: 36.24
Analytic grade: 10.12
Ascension grade: 46.36
-- Huge frame & catch radius with the ability to overpower Safeties & Defensive Backs at will.
-- Not a refined blocker, or route runner - but displays the effort needed to improve into a starting caliber Tight End in the league.
-- 90th percentile Red-zone presence with his frame, and radius - good athlete for his size. Can help an offense greatly in the low Red-zone as well as in the vertical passing game.
-- Analytically, he misses a lot of thresholds due to being overshadowed by Brock Bowers at Georgia. He does however, offer a 90th-percentile score in yards per reception.
-- Jared Cook is the ceiling outcome for a player like Washington. Has unteachable traits as an athlete with his frame. Cook had seven seasons with 75 or more targets and a near 900-yard season with the Oakland Raiders at age 31. Washington's development will be one to track - has the tools to reach this ceiling.
Ceiling outcome -- Jared Cook
Floor outcome -- Mo Alie-Cox
Tier 4: High ceiling project
Luke Musgrave | Oregon State
Film grade: 38.86
Analytic grade: 6.50
Ascension grade: 45.26
-- Interesting skillset of a move Tight-end or "Big slot."
-- Tough cover for Linebackers due to his 90th percentile play speed. Excels on cross-field concepts and vertically when one on one against a backer.
-- Lit up the Senior Bowl in one on ones, and showed way more than his collegiately production would indicate.
-- High drop rate at over 16%. Likely not a year-one producer, but rather one that will take time to be a productive part of an NFL offense.
-- Analytically, he is one of the lowest-scoring prospects in this entire draft cycle. One only metric over 30th percentile (Yards per reception)
-- Only one season with over 175 yards at Oregon State.
-- You're betting on traits when you look at Musgrave. An athlete like Gesicki is in the mold of what Musgrave can become in the right system. Gesicki has two seasons with over 700 yards already in his career, and is a scheme dependent option due to his lack of in-line versatility.
Ceiling outcome -- Mike Gesicki
Floor outcome -- Dan Arnold
Tier 5: Spot producer
Tucker Kraft | SDSU
Film grade: 31.74
Analytic grade: 13.00
Ascension grade: 44.74
-- Despite coming from a smaller school, Kraft has the frame, physicality, and post-catch skills to be a valuable contributor to an NFL offense.
-- High-end skill set in contested catch situations (90th percentile) - great at using his frame to wall off defenders.
-- Good blocker, physical - used a lot on screens and sweeps. Smart, open-space athlete with good movement skills.
-- Analytically, scored in the 70th percentile in peak receiving yardage and college dominator.
-- Reminiscent of Zach Miller, who at his peak was a 400-yard producer with the Chicago Bears. Kraft may have a bit more upside if he becomes more than an in-line threat, but we can absolutely envision a starting caliber in his range of outcomes.
Ceiling outcome -- Zach Miller
Floor outcome -- Brevin Jordan