Tight end is one of the more overlooked positions in the NFL nowadays, but a lot more teams are trying to incorporate tight ends into their offense a lot more. Tight end is also a position that is on the wish list of a lot of teams heading into the draft. Everybody knows the names Zach Ertz and Tyler Eifert, who could both end up being first round picks, but let’s take a look at some of the tight ends that will be picked later in the draft, but could end up being steals:
Joseph Fauria, UCLA – Fauria, a transfer from Notre Dame, won’t be drafted in the early rounds because he isn’t a great blocker, but he’ll become a great asset to the passing game of any NFL team. In 2012, 11 of his 46 receptions went for touchdowns, and at 6’7’’ he is a threat in the red zone. For a tight end his size Fauria has good speed and should be able to catch passes down the field, in addition to near the goal line. He has a good chance to become one of the better pass catching tight ends in the NFL.
Philip Lutzenkirchen, Auburn – Lutzenkirchen has been one of the more important members of Auburn’s offense for the past few seasons, going back to their national championship team in 2010. He’s good at both blocking and receiving, and is capable of playing tight end, h-back, or full back, so he comes with a lot of versatility. His stats don’t stand out because Auburn’s offense hasn’t been good the past two seasons, but Lutzenkirchen has a lot of useful skills and will be a key contributor to whichever NFL team he ends up with.
Chris Gragg, Arkansas – Gragg’s draft stock isn’t that high because he’s a little undersized for an NFL tight end and he missed some time last season due to injury, which hurt his stat line. He was a favorite target of quarterback Tyler Wilson over the past two seasons and accumulated over 500 yards receiving during his junior season. Gragg isn’t big enough or a good enough blocker to be an every-down tight end in the NFL, but he’ll be a useful receiver in passing situations that can play on the line or line up in the slot like a wide receiver.
Brandon Ford, Clemson – Ford is another undersized tight end that has a chance to make it in the NFL because of his pass-catching skills. He finally broke out during his senior season after being a back up at Clemson to current Colts tight end Dwayne Allen. Ford has had some drop issues in the past, but he’s great at getting open, which helped him to make 40 catches, including eight for touchdowns in 2012.
DC Jefferson, Rutgers – Believe it or not, the 6’6’’ 260 lbs. Jefferson was a quarterback early in his college career, which gives him a rather unique skill set for a tight end. He still needs to improve his blocking, but he has the size he needs to block at the line of scrimmage. Having only a few years at the position, Jefferson still has a lot to learn, but he’s made a lot of progress so far and has good upside, which makes him a sleeper in this year’s draft class.