1. T.J. Hockenson – Iowa
T.J. Hockenson lacks the athleticism that his college teammate Noah Fant has. However, Hockenson is still a very good pass-catcher and he was actually more productive last season than Fant. Hockenson needs to add more strength, but he is a good enough blocker that he has the ability to be an every-down tight end at the NFL level. Hockenson should go in the 1st round and he would be a terrific addition for a team that has a need at the position.
2. Noah Fant – Iowa
Fant was just as productive as Hockenson during his time at Iowa, but Fant arguably has a higher upside because of his athletic ability. Fant is a terrific pass-catcher and he would be a major threat in the passing game for any NFL team that drafts him. However, Fant should be an every-down tight end because he is a capable blocker and that is why he’ll likely be a 1st round pick.
3. Irv Smith Jr. – Alabama
Irv Smith Jr. isn’t nearly the all-around tight ends that Hockenson and Fant are. However, Smith Jr. is still a terrific receiving tight end that can be used as a major weapon even as a slot receiver at times. Smith Jr. has some work to do as a blocker, but he can still be an every-down tight end which is why he’ll likely get picked at some point in the 2nd round.
4. Jace Sternberger – Texas A&M
Jace Sternberger is probably the best pass-catching tight end in this draft class and he put up terrific numbers at Texas A&M last season. However, his draft stock is lower than it should be because of character concerns and his below average blocking skills. Sternberger certainly isn’t an every-down player, but his terrific receiving skills will make him a 2nd or 3rd round draft pick.
5. Dawson Knox – Ole Miss
Dawson Knox is one of the more intriguing options in this draft’s tight end position group. He might not be the terrific pass-catcher as some of the other guys, but he is surprisingly fast as proven by his 4.51 40-yard dash time. Also, he is a good enough blocker that he can be used as an every-down tight end. Knox probably isn’t versatile enough to use in the slot often, but he is a really good old-fashioned tight end that should go somewhere in the 3rd round.