This post comes from Justin Becker of FantasyFootballOverdose.com. You can follow him on Twitter @NFLRankings or the Fantasy Football Overdose Google+ Page, and for more NFL Fantasy Football Projections, visit Fantasy Football Overdose.
The 2013 NFL Draft was blessed with some really nice talent at the tight end position. Tyler Eifert and Zach Ertz were sought after talents, while even Gavin Escobar wasn’t far behind.
This past year’s draft was no different, although Eric Ebron was easily the most talented tight end prospect we’d seen in a while. Not far behind him, though, as the impressive Austin Seferian-Jenkins, as well as the balanced Troy Niklas.
Needless to say, the NFL has been a little spoiled lately in terms of high quality tight end talent. Will they be graced by that same kind of depth and upside again in 2015?
Let’s break down next year’s early top-five tight ends to find out:
1. Devin Funchess (Michigan)
Funchess is one of those classic freak tight ends we all love to hype up. Thanks to an excellent combination of size and speed, Funchess should be able to quickly develop into a matchup nightmare at the next level. Thanks to his ability to burn defenders and make plays on the ball, Funchess should be looked at as a complete offensive weapon. He will need to get a little stronger and improve in his run-blocking, but those are small concerns when you consider his immense upside as a play-maker.
2. Nick O’Leary (Florida State)
Many will say O’Leary is the top tight end prospect for 2015, as he’s a very smooth and fluid offensive weapons. He probably has a little further to go in the blocking department, but is very fundamentally sound as a receiver, packaging soft hands, smooth route-running and decent short area quickness to rack up yardage. He is a little undersized, but has the athleticism to fit into a “move” type role with the right offense.
3. Clive Walford (Miami)
Walford has improved statistically as well as in performance in each of the past three seasons, and should culminate his college career with an even better senior season. Walford will have to improve as a blocker, but is a reliable pass-catcher who offers a decent combination of size and speed. He’s a tad undersize like O’Leary, but it shouldn’t be a major issue.
4. Rory Anderson (South Carolina)
Anderson has solid size and speed for the position and appears to have the ability to be a solid two-way tight end at the next level. This is what makes him most appealing, as he’s not overly utilized at SC and doesn’t wow you with freakish athleticism or crazy numbers. He’s just a quality receiver who won’t hurt you and can help in the blocking department.
5. Tyler Kroft (Rutgers)
Kroft is a high upside tight end thanks to massive size. He broke out last year with four touchdowns on 43 catches and should see his role increase even more in 2014. He isn’t a freak athlete but has solid speed for his size and displays the open field vision of a wide receiver. He’s not rigid in his movement and could be a matchup problem for linebackers at the next level. He’s not an incompetent blocker, either, although this is still probably one of his main weak points.
These aren’t the only tight ends to monitor for the 2015 NFL Draft, but for now they are probably the best prospects who have displayed NFL ability. Ben Koyack might be the next guy up and could easily crack this top-five list by the end of the year, but we just haven’t seen enough out of him at Notre Dame yet. Other guys to watch who just missed the cut are E.J. Bibbs, Randall Telfer and Braxton Deaver.