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2014 NFL Draft: Tight Ends

A look at the Tight Ends entering the 2014 NFL Draft

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No position in fantasy football has evolved more over the last decade than the Tight End. Big, strong athletic freaks like Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski are the new prototype NFL TE. Teams are looking for guys that are strong enough to handle the blocking part of the position but also fast enough to stretch the middle of the field in the passing game.

Of course not all offenses utilize the TE well enough to impact the fantasy game. The new wide open spread offenses may rack up plenty of offensive numbers but they usually don’t use TE’s very well. 

In this piece I will cover everything about the TE's you need to know for this upcoming year including what they did at the combine, how they project in the NFL and the positives and negatives for each player. Now let's get too it!! 

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This draft is full of quality TE prospects. To determine which are going to become a force at the NFL level and specifically in fantasy football, it will come down to who ends up where. So, let’s take a look at which NFL teams are most in need of an impact TE.

Top 5 In Need

1)Green Bay Packers – The Packers have a lot of weapons in their passing game but the one thing that has been missing is the presence of a JerMichael Finely-type. 

2)Atlanta Falcons – The Falcons went all in last year in an attempt to win a Super Bowl with the likes of Tony Gonzalez and company. What they forgot to do is develop talent behind him and thus they have a major need to fill soon.

3)Oakland Raiders – Mychal Rivera is an interesting talent but is injury prone a raw. The Raiders have needs everywhere and TE is just one more to add to their list.

4)New York Giants – Eli Manning loves to target the middle of the field and needs a sure handed TE in place to help move the chains.

5)Kansas City Chiefs – Anthony Fasano is a solid backup TE but this offense desperately needs a receiver who can make tough catches in traffic. They will select a TE in this draft.

Others In Need

Detroit Lions, Miami Dolphins & New England Patriots

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Combine Report

Before we see what they can do on the field it is important to understand just what physical and mental skills these players are working with. For TE’s there is a lot more than size or speed to determine if they can handle the grind of an NFL season. The most important thing for a young TE is their ability to stay healthy. Therefore we need to look at their strength and stamina. Further evaluation requires us to look at their speed and pass catch ability. All of the skills that go into playing and excelling at TE in the NFL is exactly why there are so few elite TE’s these days.

Let’s take a look at the top TE performers from the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine:

40 Yard Dash

A.C. Leonard TE Tennessee St. 4.5
Eric Ebron TE North Carolina 4.6
Colt Lyerla TE Oregon 4.61
Trey Burton TE Florida 4.62
Jace Amaro TE Texas Tech 4.74
C.J. Fiedorowicz TE Iowa 4.76
Anthony Denham TE Utah 4.77
Reggie Jordan TE Missouri Western 4.77
Jake Murphy TE Utah 4.79
Arthur Lynch TE Georgia 4.82
Marcel Jensen TE Fresno St 4.85
Richard Rogers TE California 4.87
Crockett Gilmore TE Colorado St. 4.89
Jacob Pedersen TE Wisconsin 4.89
Jordan Najvar TE Baylor 4.92

Vertical Jump 

Colt Lyerla TE Oregon 39
Marcel Jensen TE Fresno St. 35
A.C. Leonard TE Tennessee St. 34
Crockett Gilmore TE Colorado St. 33.5
Jeff Amaro TE Texas Tech 33
Jake Murphy TE Utah 33
Anthony Denham TE Utah 32.5
Jordan Najvar TE Baylor 32.5
Eric Ebron TE North Carolina 32
Troy Niklas TE Notre Dame 32
C.J. Fiedorowicz TE Iowa 31.5
Troy Burton TE Florida 30
Reggie Jordan TE Missouri Western 30

Bench Press 

Joe Don Duncan TE Dixie St. 35
Jace Amaro TE Texas Tech 28
Arthur Lynch TE Georgia 28
Troy Niklas TE Norte Dame 27
C.J. Fiedorowicz TE Iowa 25
Eric Ebron TE North Carolina 24
Marcel Jensen TE Fresno St. 24
Reggie Jordan TE Missouri Western 24
Jake Murphy TE Utah 24
A.C. Leonard TE Tennessee St. 20
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TE Rankings

1. Eric Ebron, North Carolia, 6’4”, 250 lbs

Without question the best pure pass catching TE in this draft. Ebron is a physical specimen with the speed to stretch the field vertically. He has good hands and has shown the ability to make tough catches in traffic. He was a three year starter at North Carolina and was a very high producer at the college level.

Ebron is more interested in catching the football than he is in using his physical skills in the blocking game. Ebron is very vocal and eerily similar to Vernon Davis. He can be a locker room distraction and will be a media darling in a big city. He could be a distraction to a young team. 

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2.  C.J. Fiedorowicz, Iowa, 6’5”, 265 lbs

Outstanding natural size and skills. Fiedorowicz has good hands and the speed to threaten the defense at the second level. Iowa TE’s have a built in understanding of how to pass protect and run block which is highly coveted at the NFL level.

Fiedorowicz can get lazy and disappear from the passing game for long periods of time. He never lived up to expectations while in school and will need immense coaching at the NFL level. 

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3.  Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washigton, 6’5”, 262 lbs

Seferian-Jenkins looks every bit like an All-Pro NFL TE. He has the size, the speed and the football acumen that resembles someone who is going to make it at the next level. He can stretch the field with his speed but also has natural ability to stay in and pass protect.

While working out at the Combine, medical examiners found a stress fracture in his foot, which required surgery and curbed his workouts. He was also arrested for DUI in the spring of 2013 and spent a day in jail. Definitely some character issues at play here but he sure looks like an NFL TE.

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4.  Troy Niklas, Notre Dame, 6’6”, 270 lbs

Niklas is the nephew of NFL Hall Of Fame OT Bruce Matthews so he has strong bloodlines. He was a highly recruited high school athlete that developed slowly with in South Bend. He has great hands and can line up either on the line or split out wide. He should be able to develop more as a blocker as well.

I am unsure about his speed. He looked quick on tape but didn’t run at the combine or at a pro day. I watched a lot of Notre Dame football this fall and didn't come away too impressed. He needs to add some lower body strength in order to help him power block in the NFL. Niklas is new to the TE position and may need a full season in the NFL to contend for a starting job.

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5.  Marcel Jensen, Fresno St., 6’6”, 259 lbs

A total project at the TE position. Jensen is a former basketball player who is also an exceptional athlete. His hands are quite good and he has great run after the catch ability. He is a very coachable athlete and has made dramatic improvements in his blocking technique. Great leaping ability and long arms which could make him a very strong red zone target.

Marcel Jensen isn’t a great route runner and battled injuries throughout college. His combine 40 yard dash time (4.85) was quite disappointing as well. He is a project that will need coaching to help him learn the position of NFL TE. 

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Other TE’s Of Note

Jace Amaro – Texas Tech – 6’5”, 265 lbs – Didn’t play a true TE role in college and has no idea in the blocking game.

Anthony Denham – Utah – 6’4”, 235 lbs – Fast rising TE prospect who has all of the tools and could make a big impact with the right organization.

Reggie Jordan – Missouri Western – 6’3”, 240 lbs – Another raw TE prospect could wind up as an H-Back at the NFL level. 


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