Editor's Note: These rankings were originally published before the combine. We will be updating our position rankings throughout draft season.
Over the past 10 drafts, there have been a total of nine tight ends selected in the first round and six of those nine were selected in the past three drafts combined.
This year’s draft class doesn’t have a top-10 prospect (like T.J. Hockenson last year) or even a consensus top tight end. While it’s possible that one sneaks into the back end of Round 1, it’s more likely that the first tight end off the board in this year’s draft will be selected on the second day.
Here are my updated tight end prospect rankings for the 2020 draft:
1. Cole Kmet, Notre Dame (JR, 6'6", 262 pounds)
Expected to return to school in 2020, the dual-sport athlete (with baseball) for Notre Dame had a change of heart. Now, Kmet has a shot to be the first tight end off the board. A safety valve for Ian Book as a junior, Kmet became more involved in the passing attack and finished with 43 catches for 515 yards and six touchdowns in 2019. Kmet has experience both in-line and detached with the frame to continue to add more mass. Despite weighing in as the heaviest tight end at the combine, Kmet had the fourth-fastest 40-yard dash (4.70), best vertical jump (37") and second-best broad jump (10'3") at the position.
2. Adam Trautman, Dayton (rSR, 6'5", 255 pounds)
Trautman dominated the lesser competition he faced at Dayton. The former high school quarterback turned 70 catches into 916 yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior and racked up 2,295 yards and 31 touchdowns over his career. A big target at (6'5", 255 pounds), Trautman’s route-running and ball skills are both pluses. After a strong week at the Senior Bowl, Trautman showed off his agility at the combine with a position-best three-cone time of 6.78 seconds, which would have been the second-best time among wide receivers.
3. Brycen Hopkins, Purdue (rSR, 6'4", 245 pounds)
The son of former Titans offensive tackle Brad Hopkins, Brycen didn’t begin playing football until high school. Due to his speed and route running, Hopkins has been more productive as a receiver than effective as a blocker. More of a straight-line player, but Hopkins averaged 15.0 yards per reception over his collegiate career. That said, he has inconsistent hands and has struggled with drops.
4. Hunter Bryant, Washington (JR, 6'2", 248 pounds)
Best utilized flexed out and as a move tight end, Bryant was highly productive as a receiver and finished 2019 with 52 catches for 825 yards (15.9 Y/R) and three touchdowns with at least 5/82 in each of his final four games. Creating matchup problems in the passing game, Bryant has excellent ball skills and run-after-catch ability, although he ran a slower-than-expected 4.74, 40 at a bulked-up 248 pounds in Indianapolis. Knee injuries limited him to just 14 games as a freshman and sophomore.
5. Harrison Bryant, Florida Atlantic (SR, 6'5", 243 pounds)
The 2019 John Mackey Award recipient as the nation’s top tight end, Bryant had 65 catches for 1,004 yards (15.44 Y/R) and seven touchdowns in his final season. Bryant's combination of athleticism, route-running and ball skills should allow him to become a high-volume target in the passing game at the next level. Due to his development as a blocker during his time at FAU, however, he’s one of the more versatile and well-rounded prospects at the position.
Here are the next 10 tight ends in my rankings:
6. Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri (rJR, 6'6", 258 pounds)
7. Thaddeus Moss, LSU (rJR, 6'2", 250 pounds)
8. Josiah Deguara, Cincinnati (rSR, 6'2", 242 pounds)
9. Colby Parkinson, Stanford (JR, 6'7", 252 pounds)
10. Jared Pinkney, Vanderbilt (rSR, 6'4", 257 pounds)
11. Stephen Sullivan, LSU (SR, 6'5", 248 pounds)
12. Charlie Taumoepeau, Portland State (SR, 6'2", 240 pounds)
13. Dalton Keene, Virginia Tech (JR, 6'4", 253 pounds)
14. Devin Asiasi, UCLA (rJR, 6'3", 257 pounds)
15. Cheyenne O’Grady, Arkansas (rSR, 6'4", 253 pounds)
Kevin Hanson joins SI for the 2020 NFL Draft season. His NFL Mock Drafts have graded as the most accurate over the past five years, per The Huddle Report. His 2015 NFL mock draft graded as the most accurate and his 2019 NFL mock draft was the second-most accurate out of 101 draft analysts.