Fire Sale: NFL Draft TE Preview
With the NFL Combine in the rear-view mirror it's time to begin the process of breaking down this year's draft class. Through my contacts in the NFL I've received videos of close to 150 draft prospects. I use what I see on those videos to go along with countless hours of watching college football in order to form my opinions. After breaking down each prospect we'll offer some early thoughts on their potential fantasy impact. We'll take a look at quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends for fantasy purposes. If you want to discuss any draft prospects or have fantasy football questions you can follow me on Twitter
I've already broken down
At the Combine, Allen showed quick feet and soft hands, as he did on tape. Allen is also one of the best blocking tight ends in this class, which could help make him the first player taken off the board at his position.
On tape, Charles creates good separation from defenders and does a good job of using his body and reaching to catch in traffic. Charles has all the physical tools to be a very productive tight end at the NFL level. In a world where tight ends aren't the blockers they once were, Charles is above average in that area.
Fleener knows how to get open and he isn't going to drop many passes. Fleener didn't always create a lot of separation on tape but he was fortunate enough to have Andrew Luck throwing him the ball at Stanford, so it wasn't a big concern. Fleener is fast on a track for a tight end but that doesn't always translate over to the football field. He has good speed but he isn't a burner.
Still, I can see him catching 60 balls a season. A few years ago that would have made him a top-flight tight end, but in 2012 it puts you in the second tier below the elite guys.
Fleener brings to mind the Eagles' Brent Celek, a guy who can stay in and block or head out on receiving patterns in a pinch. I don't see a perennial Pro Bowler, but a potential 10-year veteran because he'll be solid at everything he's asked to do.
Not only is Peterson extremely raw, he has some weaknesses he may never overcome. On tape, Peterson is probably the worst route runner of any prospect, and saying his hands are inconsistent would be kind. Peterson showed both of those concerns at the Combine, where he dropped a lot of balls and didn't look fluid in any of the drills.
Peterson rates as a 5th round prospect at best, based purely on his abilities as a blocker.
When I watch Egnew I see a college tight end. He isn't very physical and he doesn't beat press coverage well. Egnew also gets knocked off his route easily -- and those are by college defenders. Sometimes you watch a video and you can tell you're watching a very good college player who is destined to struggle in the NFL. That's what I saw when watching Egnew.
Egnew had great measurables at the Combine but that may only cause him to get over-drafted. At best Egnew projects as being a Delaine Walker kind of player.
That 40 time epitomizes Hanna. He's a former wide receiver and an exceptional athlete but is still learning the tight end position. Hanna has speed and good quickness off the line but his route running needs work and he drops some catchable balls.
Hanna is an underrated blocker, although that's not where he's going to earn his money. If Hanna makes an impact in the NFL it will be as a receiver. He's a guy to watch down the line.
Provo is an excellent route runner, which helps him offset his lack of top-line speed. Provo probably won't be a star in the NFL but he could develop into a solid pass-catching tight end.
It's no secret that on paper this is one of the weakest classes of tight ends in recent memory. I only have one tight end (Allen) with a first-round grade and from watching these guys on tape he's the only one I'm really in love with. Fleener is a solid player who does everything well, Charles has upside and there are a couple of players that could surprise but overall this is clearly the weakest offensive position in the draft.