TOJ Pick Six – Top 6 Tight Ends In The NFL Draft

Dalbin Osorio looks at the top six TE prospects in the NFL Draft and how the New York Jets will approach the position this April…

With this week’s #PickSix, the attention turns to the tight end position, a perpetual area of weakness for the New York Jets over the past few years…

1. David Njoku, TE, Miami
Positional Ranking: 1 (Last Week: NR)
Overall Ranking: 20
Stats: 64 REC, 1060 YDS, 16.5 YPC, 9 TDs
Compliment: will be the best TE in the class in two years; clean route runner; excels in the open field
Critique: needs to get stronger; could improve as a blocker, though light years ahead of OJ Howard; only two years of college experience at TE

2. OJ Howard, TE, Alabama
Positional Ranking: 2 (Last Week: NR)
Overall Ranking: 21
Stats: 114 REC, 1726 YDS, 15.1 YPC, 7 TDs
Compliment: best athlete at position in draft since Vernon Davis; uses his hands exceptionally well; ability to use body to “box out” defenders in red zone and in middle of field
Critique: not a very polished route runner yet; not as physical as you’d like to see for a man his size; not a very good blocker

3. Jake Butt, TE, Michigan
Positional Ranking: 3
Overall Ranking: 50
Stats: 138 REC, 1646 YDS, 11.9 YPC, 11 TDs
Compliment: versatility to line up at multiple positions (TE, Split End, Slot WR, and H-Back) on offense; best blocking TE out of the big 3; able to adjust to the ball being in the air and come down with the catch
Critique: struggles to change direction on shorter routes; will sometimes get pushed back when his blocks are aimed too high; the ACL injury might limit his availability for the 2017 season

4. Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss
Positional Ranking: 4
Overall Ranking: 51
Stats: 162 REC, 2320 YDS, 15 TDs
Compliment: able to establish good position versus defensive backs and linebackers; deceptively quick for a guy his size; very good route runner
Critique: terrible blocker; future might really be as a wide receiver instead of TE; not very versatile and struggles to play with hand in dirt

5. Jordan Leggett, TE, Clemson
Positional Ranking: 5
Overall Ranking: 116
Stats: 112 REC, 1598 YDS, 14.3 YPC, 18 TDs
Compliment: solid route runner; great hands catcher; smart player that’s able to find soft spots in zone coverage
Critique: bad blocker who gets minimal push; not very explosive; possible he’s reached his ceiling

6. Bucky Hodges, TE, Virginia Tech
Positional Ranking: 6
Overall Ranking: 125
Stats: 133 REC, 1747 YDS, 13.1 YPC, 20 TDs
Compliment: wide catch radius; uncanny ability to highpoint catches; explosive with the ball in his hands
Critique: due to height, has actually a small frame that limits his effectiveness as a blocker; is a lazy route runner; will sometimes needlessly push off defenders

On The Clock With The Jets
Njoku is a bit of a reach at 6, but if the Jets trade back to get him or he were to fall to the Jets in round 2 he’d be a steal there. He’s the most complete TE in the draft, polished as both a receiver and blocker.

Howard will be drafted higher than Njoku but, while I believe both will be successful, I wouldn’t take him at 6. I think he could be a target in that 25-33 range should the Jets trade back. Nabbing Howard and an extra pick is an ideal scenario.

Butt would’ve been my pick in round 2 before the ACL injury. Now, if he falls to round 3 or 4 and the Jets opt to not pick Njoku or Howard then Butt is the guy that could really make the life of whatever QB is under center next year much easier.

Engram strikes me as a guy that will test well at the combine and be overdrafted because of the athleticism, but I wouldn’t touch him until rounds 3 or 4. Adding him also means you still need a blocking TE for the two TE sets new offensive coordinator John Morton could run.

If the Jets draft Deshaun Watson at 6, then adding his college teammate Leggett in rounds 4 or 5 would be ideal because it will give Watson a familiar target. Leggett brings the same issue in terms of roster building as Engram though, in that he’s so bad a blocker you’d have to invest a roster spot in a blocking TE.

Hodges is intriguing because he reminds me ALOT of a TE Morton would be familiar with in Jimmy Graham. He is 6’7″ and 245 pounds, and is essentially a small forward playing football. There isn’t a defensive back in the league that can match him from a height standpoint, and if the Jets are patient with him he would make an ideal middle of the field target for a young QB.

I don’t think the Jets add Howard or Njoku early or at all really. I’d really like it if they took Hodges, but ultimately I think the Jets end up picking Jake Butt in Round 3.

Photo Credit: 

Author: Dalbin Osorio

Dalbin Osorio is a Case Planner for Graham-Windham, New York's oldest child welfare agency. He is, also, a student at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College. Dalbin graduated from Monroe College with a degree in Business Administration. A 3 sport utility man in high school (think a mix of Jerome WIlliams, Brad Smith, and Jayson Nix), he joined TOJ in 2013.