This year’s TE class is pretty poor, especially when compared to last year’s class which produced Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez for the Patriots, as well as Tony Moeaki, Jimmy Graham and Jermaine Gresham who were also successful as rookies. I also doubt the Patriots will be in the market for a top TE considering they drafted Gronkowski and Hernandez in the 2nd and 4th rounds last year, but here’s my top 5 from this weak TE class:
- Kyle Rudolph – Notre Dame
Rudolph is the consensus #1 TE in the draft and is often compared to Rob Gronkowski, mainly because that’s a rookie TE that set the benchmark and has similar size, and both missed a year due to injury before entering the draft. He falls short of Gronkowski on sheer power and athleticism but he’s a good prospect. I doubt Rudolph will be as good as Gronkowski was, who set an NFL rookie record with 10 TD receptions, but if TE was my top need going into the draft, he’d be my selection. Projection – 2nd round.
- Virgil Green – Nevada
Physical prototype for the position. Great size, strength and speed. Also regarded as a hard worker and while Nevada mostly used his athleticism to make him a receiving TE, he can do some blocking too. Pretty good hands and if he can build some more upper body strength for blocking he could develop into a great player. Projection – 2nd-3rd round.
- Lance Kendricks – Wisconsin
Aaron Hernandez-style H-back guy. Athletic, good catcher, can stretch the field and runs fluid routes. The kind of guy you’d find a place for in your offense if you wanted too, because he could line up in the backfield, as a traditional TE or out wide. Just don’t ask him to block too much. Projection – 2nd-3rd round.
- Jordan Cameron – USC
Compares nicely to Jimmy Graham. A raw athlete with that basketball background that NFL teams love in a TE, and flashed when given limited opportunities at USC. Might not be as good as Jimmy Graham was as a rookie, but has some unique physical tools – speed, strength, explosiveness – that you could work with and mold into a real weapon. Projection – 3rd – 4th round.
- Luke Stocker – Tennessee
More of the stereotype for the position like Rudolph. Not really the potent, athletic offensive weapon that the previous 3 could be, but he’s pretty solid, blocks well but doesn’t get the same level of production as a receiver, possibly due to a lack of route running ability and separation. Struggled at the Combine in drills. Projection – 3rd-4th round.