George Kittle contract: Checking on 8 TEs picked ahead in 2017

George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers, John Lynch (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers, John Lynch (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /
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OJ Howard, George Kittle, NFL Draft
(Photo by Will Vragovic/Getty Images) /

First Round Picks

OJ Howard, Buccaneers

The first tight end off the board in the 2017 NFL Draft was Alabama’s OJ Howard, and there’s no disputing that, at the time, he should have been.

Howard was a monster at Alabama in the run and pass game, and his athletic upside led many to believe he would ultimately become what Kittle has become for the 49ers.

With 94 receptions for 1,456 yards and 12 total touchdowns in his first three NFL seasons, Howard has been solid for the Bucs and should continue a positive trajectory and long, successful NFL career.

Evan Engram, Giants

Four picks after OJ Howard went off the board, the New York Giants took Evan Engram, a tremendous mismatch option and hybrid WR/TE type of playmaker.

Engram has 153 catches and 12 touchdowns in three seasons with the Giants, but he’s missed plenty of time due to injury as well.

Engram is one of the best and most productive offensive weapons in the league as a tight end/flex player when healthy.

David Njoku, Browns

Coming off of a season in which he only played in four games, David Njoku’s roster spot in Cleveland appears to be in jeopardy despite a really strong start to his career from 2017-18.

Njoku had four touchdowns in each of his first two seasons with the Browns and caught 56 passes in 2018.

With his youth and athleticism, there’s no doubt that Njoku will yet carve out a long career for himself in the NFL, but he was another player many had similar Kittle-type expectations for early on.