Take Your Pick: Best Tight End Prospects


This is a multiple-part series that encourages readers to participate in the draft discussion. Don’t agree with my top prospects at a respective position? Tell me who should be or shouldn’t be included and why, I want to hear your opinions!

When analyzing the tight end position in this year’s draft, it can be compared to the safety group, only the tight end prospects have a player who stands out amongst the others in Notre Dame’s Kyle Rudolph. This is definitely not one of the stronger seasons for tight end talent and it will most likely resemble last year’s draft when there was only one tight end taken in the first 41 picks with Oklahoma’s Jermaine Greshem going to the Cincinnati Bengals at No. 21. For those who are regularly read this series, you know it is meant to give you my top three players at a position. For tight ends, this includes Rudolph, Arkansas’ D.J. Williams, and Wisconsin’s Lance Kendricks. I am sure I could get some heat for leaving Tennessee’s Luke Stocker out of the picture, but that’s what this is for. If you disagree with my top three tight ends, let me know in the discussion area below. Here is a closer look at my top three tight ends for the 2011 NFL Draft.

1. Kyle Rudolph, Notre Dame

Rudolph is the top tight end in many draft analysts rankings and for good reason. Declaring for the 2011 NFL Draft after his junior season, he was a semi-finalist for the John Mackey Award given to the most outstanding tight end in division 1-A college football for his 2009 season. That season he caught 33 passes for 364 yards and three touchdowns. He had a bit of a drop-off during the 2010 season, hauling in 28 receptions for 328 yards and three touchdowns, as he missed the final six games of the regular season with a hamstring injury.

Rudolph has terrific size at 6’6”, 259 lbs. and has the potential to be a good red zone target in the NFL. For his size, he is very athletic and can make defenders miss after catching the ball. He also has some of the best hands of any tight end prospects, doing a good job of extending his arms, catching the ball with his hands, and securing it into his body. One of his big weaknesses is his route running. He is not always smooth out of breaks, something he will need to work on in order to have success in the pros.

2. D.J. Williams, Arkansas

Williams was the 2010 Mackey Award winner as the most outstanding tight end in college football with 54 receptions for 627 yards and four touchdowns. His career numbers are solid, with 149 receptions for 1,831 yards and ten touchdowns for his four-year career as a Razorback. He was also named the 2010 Disney Spirit Award recipient, given to the most inspirational figure in all of college football for his work with Big Brothers and Big Sisters programs, Children’s Hospital, as well as other organizations.

Williams is a solid prospect as a receiver and a blocker. Although he is not the fastest tight end, he runs routes well and is very good at finding the holes in defensive zone schemes. Like Rudolph, he is a receiver who does a good job at catching the ball away from his body and not turning to run up the field before it is tucked away securely. He must do a better job at beating linebackers one on one in the open field as a receiver. With his height (6’2”), he is the not the ideal red zone target as far as tight ends.

3. Lance Kendricks, Wisconsin

Kendricks had a terrific 2010 season with 43 receptions for 663 yards and five touchdowns in his third season with the Badgers, all team highs. He was named 2010 Associated Press second-team All-American and first-team All-American by Sports Illustrated and The Sporting News. Over his career, he has 1,160 yards receiving which ranks 18th all-time in Wisconsin school history. He also was the team leader with four receptions for 36 yards against TCU in the 2011 Rose Bowl Game.

He has very good straight line speed, something he has over both Rudolph and Williams. At 6’4”, he can be a big target in the middle of the field, and can use his big frame to get position against linebackers. He also has good athleticism after the catch, using quick moves to get around defenders in the open field. Kendricks is not a player who likes to lower his shoulder and try to run through defenders to pick up yardage. There are some concerns about his hands as he likes to let passes come into his body instead of attacking the ball with his hands.

As I mentioned earlier, I want your opinions on who should be on the list for the top three tight end prospects for the 2011 NFL Draft. Don’t agree with my list? Let me know below and tell me who should be and why. Take your pick on who the best tight end prospects are.