Tight End and Fullback Rankings
1. Jermaine Gresham– Gresham is the top tight end in the draft despite not playing this past season, due to a knee injury. While the injury is a bit worrisome Gresham should still maintain his first round status. He grades out as an elite prospect across the board. His blocking is still raw, but has shown enough ability to make it a strength. Barring an injury setback Gresham, should be a top tight end right off the bat.
2. Rob Gronkowski– Based on his freshmen and sophomore season’s Gronkowski is a first round talent, the problem is he had surgery last season and missed his entire junior campaign. Surgery on the back is a bit scary, especially considering there was nerve damage. For me that puts him in the mid-late 2nd round range, and there is a BIG question mark next to his name. I love the talent, but worry about how often he can be on the field.
3. Dennis Pitta– Pitta is a classic jack of all trades master of none. He grades out as good across the board, and you can’t really find any fault in his game. He lacks elite speed and separation ability, but should easily develop into a number 1 tight end in the NFL.
4. Dorrin Dickerson- Dickerson has been an after thought before this past season. He has played receiver, linebacker, before settling in as a tight end. He is a bit raw as a blocker, and doesn’t possesses the ideal size for the position, but I wouldn’t count him out. Dickerson has exceptional speed, and should be an effective weapon in the NFL. He will create a mis-match against every linebacker trying to cover him, as well as a number of safeties. Dickerson’s work ethic is proven by his willingness to change positions multiple times for the Panthers. And could even hear his name called by the end of the 2nd round.
5. Ed Dickson- Dickson flies under the radar somewhat, coming out of a running attack at Oregon. He has proven to be both a good receiving tight end and a solid blocker. Neither area is he truly great, but is a very safe bet in becoming a good starter in the NFL.
6. Aaron Hernandez- Hernandez is a top-notch pass catching tight end, but could be a major liability as a blocker. I think some team might over draft him given his receiving skills, but I do worry that he is really only a situational tight end. What is even more troubling is Hernandez has the size to be a solid blocker, but hasn’t shown any sign of getting there.
7. Garrett Graham– Graham is a solid 4th round prospect, and while he doesn’t project as a star I think there is a very good chance he becomes a solid starter. He has good hands and plays faster than his natural speed. He doesn’t have the upside as some prospects, but for me is a safer bet going forward, and should contribute in year one.
8. Jimmy Graham– Graham is a major project, but could be a steal for some team in the 3rd or 4th round. He played only one season of college football, since he went to Miami on a basketball scholarship. He has all the physical tools you dream about in a tight end, and shows excellent potential across the board, but just isn’t there yet. He might need a year or two before he can be an every down starter, but the talent is there.
9. Anthony McCoy- McCoy is a tight end that I have very mixed feelings about. On one hand I love the size and strength, on the other hand though I question why that doesn’t translate into being a better blocker. I feel he is too soft and could very well end up being a bust. I would have a hard time selecting him before the 5th round (though he will likely go higher). His hands are good, but his speed is just average, not making him a great down field threat. His numbers were potentially a bit inflated at USC given the talent surrounding him.
10. Nate Byham- Byham likely won’t be among the top 10 tight ends drafted, and could even fall into the 6th or 7th round range, but should develop into a pretty solid tight end in the NFL. Byham is overlooked because he isn’t the athletic pass catcher we have come to think of our tight ends (see above). While he doesn’t have the speed to stretch the field, Byham isn’t a liability in the passing game. He has good hands, and is a smart player that finds ways to get open for his quarterback. He will be a good safety net for his quarterback and potentially a decent weapon in the red zone. Unlike many of the tight ends in this draft Byham, is an excellent blocker, probably the best one in the draft (among tight ends). He is just as good blocking downfield as he is blocking on the line. While he won’t likely ever be more than a number 2 tight end, his blocking skills will keep him on the field plenty.
1. Rashawn Jackson- Jackson likely won’t be drafted before the 5th round, is probably the only fullback who could be a starter in his rookie year. Jackson had to shoulder some of the load this season as injuries decimated the Cavaliers running backs. Jackson came out of no where to put up solid numbers for Virgina. He showed nice potential in becoming a weapon out of the backfield from the fullback position, and should be a nice short yardage option for whomever drafts him. Jackson is a strong blocker when he gets into his man, but will at times over commit. If he can learn a little better technique I think he could become one of the top fullbacks in the league.
2. Cory Jackson- Not much of a runner/receiver, but will contribute extensively on special teams and as a lead blocker. He is a high character guy, who should find some success at the next level.
3. John Conner- Conner can be a very good lead blocker at the next level. He wasn’t used much, but offers some upside as a short yardage option. He has tremendous work ethic, that could carry him far in the NFL.
4. Manase Tonga- Tonga is a 7th round fullback prospect. He isn’t great in any area, but is solid all-around. He needs to be a better blocker to succeed in the NFL, but should find a role as a back-up/special teamer.