2014 NFL Draft Top Five Series: Tight Ends

Connor Rogers continues his “Top Five” series, breaking down the best tight ends the 2014 NFL Draft has to offer.

With the top five quarterbacks in the books, it is time to move on to the tight ends. Jets fans should keep an eye on this group, as I would be shocked if none of these guys are wearing Jet green and white after the NFL Draft.

1) Eric Ebron – North Carolina

Ebron tops this class by a pretty wide gap. He has the ability to take the top off of a defense and often goes up for the highlight reel catch. His size and speed combination made him a force after the catch in college football

His in-line blocking needs refinement, but he is not nearly as bad as many make him out to be. Most of his blocking struggles come from going for the big hit, rather than getting his hands on the defender.

I often stray from pro player comparisons, but Ebron is the biggest difference maker at tight end I have seen since Vernon Davis. He is not a large, over powering force such as Rob Gronkowski, but he is as good of a “receiving” tight end prospect as they come.

2) Jace Amaro – Texas Tech

Amaro, much like Ebron, is a better blocker than given credit for. His 6’6, 260 pound frame was a force in opposing team’s secondaries at times. Although he played a majority of his snaps in the slot for Texas Tech’s offense, he has the raw ability to slide over to in-line tight end.

Amaro does not show the downhill route running ability to pull a safety with him like Ebron, but he is more consistent underneath. He uses his frame to shield linebackers and safeties from defending the ball. With better quarterback play, he can prove to be a top notch possession target at the next level.

3) Troy Niklas – Notre Dame

Niklas will enter the draft after only playing tight end for two seasons at Notre Dame. In high school he was decorated as the best offensive lineman in the state of California. He then went on to Notre Dame, where he first played outside linebacker.

In his sophomore season, the 6’6, 270 pound Niklas moved to tight end as Tyler Eifert’s back up. He assumed the starting role in 2013 as a junior, where he hauled in 32 catches for 498 yards and five touchdowns. His strongest asset is his powerful in-line blocking.

Niklas is a perfect day two candidate for the Jets as he can instantly step in as the in-line tight end (assuming Jeff Cumberland remains lined up out wide). He has a high ceiling as both a blocker and possession receiver, while also bringing a presence to the Jets anemic red zone passing offense.

4) C.J. Fiedorowicz – Iowa

In my opinion, Fiedorowicz is the best blocking tight end in this entire draft class. He is 6’7, 265 pounds of pure power off the line of scrimmage.

His receiving game is extremely limited, but he was barely featured in the passing attack outside of the red zone. He only hauled in 30 catches for 299 yards this past season, but he did catch 6 touchdowns.

As I have previously mentioned, the Jets red zone passing attack needs help. They also need an in-line, blocking tight end after missing out on Brandon Pettigrew in free agency. Feidorowicz is a prime candidate for the Jets in the 2014 NFL Draft.


5) Crockett Gillmore – Colorado State

Gillmore has received very little pre-draft “hype” but is well deserving of the fifth spot over the overrated Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Gillmore is a former defensive end who has transitioned quite well to the tight end position.

He has very reliable hands and runs in the 4.75-4.8 range, impressive speed for a 6’6, 260 pound target. He is not a game changing prospect, but he will be a very intriguing middle round option for a lot of teams.

Unlike Seferian-Jenkins, he has improved into a very capable blocker, especially in the run game. A lot of teams invest in “late bloomers” at tight end in the draft that are new to the position and Gillmore fits that bill perfectly.