Now that the NFL combine has passed, we have a plethora of new athletic data on this upcoming rookie class. That information can be applied to athletic models and used to shape out the full portfolio for prospects to go along with production profiles, which is a general overlay of what these players put on tape for NFL teams.
With that, we’re laying out the positional rankings for each position pre-NFL Draft from a fantasy stance. For purposes of having the most information, these early ranks will cover only the players invited to the combine at each position. You can also find the rest of the rookie rankings and all other 2020 rankings for seasonal and dynasty formats as they arrive in our 2020 rankings hub as they arrive and are updated throughout the offseason.
Although I do models for each of the skill positions and will share the ranks for the players in those models, my personal ranks don’t strictly follow those models linearly. I use the prospect models in a similar fashion as I do projection models for the NFL season. We’re looking for immediate market inefficiencies in leagues where we’re drafting rookie prior to the actual NFL Draft. Athletic testing has a low correlation to actual fantasy output and when it does, it’s typically counted twice from a very productive player in the first place. But when a prospect has subpar athletic testing paired with a limited or nonexistent production resume, then we’re playing with fire when attempting to elevate or count on that player for NFL production.
Post-draft, we’ll have the added influence of draft investment and landing spot to add to the layout. Those two components carry the most influence in predicting immediate player usage, so things will be shaken up a bit come April and we will revisit both ranks and adjust accordingly.
Starting with the tight end position, this class of tight ends is a significant step back from the 2019 class. A year ago, we had blue-chip prospects in Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson selected within the first 20 picks and eight tight ends total selected in the top-100 picks. This class is not going to have a tight end selected in the first round and should also check-in under that mark last season on tight ends selected over the first two days. From a fantasy stance, there’s a good chance we won’t have any tight end going in the opening two rounds of most rookie drafts given the depth and quality of the running back and wide receiver positions compared to tight end this season.
2020 Pre-draft tight end rookie rankings
1.Hunter Bryant, Washington, Final Year Age: 21.4 (Model Rank TE3): Bryant is the fourth-youngest tight end in this class of tight ends. From a production stance, Bryant ranked second in this class in percentage of team receiving yards (26.1%) in 2019 and ranks third in career receptions per game (3.3). At 6’2” and 248 pounds, Bryant has more of a tweener-profile that will generate more downfield plays (16.4 career yards per reception) than produce high volume touchdown totals. The only bugaboo for Bryant was finding the end zone just five times in 26 collegiate games. That hurts his prospect score with just one year of production otherwise. He’s also dinged because he was expected to be more explosive at the combine given his size, but tested out in the 36th percentile in terms of physical profile.
2.Harrison Bryant, Florida Atlantic, FY Age: 21.7 (MR TE1): Not just “the other Bryant” at the position, Harrison was the only tight end in this class to hit the 1,000-yard receiving mark (65-1,004-7). Bryant (6’5”, 243) is another receiving-first tight end over in-line blocker that led all tight ends in first down receptions (47) this past season. Playing at Florida Atlantic didn’t give Bryant a strong resume versus high-caliber opponents, but he did have a 6-79-0 game against Ohio State this past season.
3. Brycen Hopkins, Purdue, FY Age: 22.8 (MR TE2): Of the “big school” prospects in this class, Hopkins ranks first in career receptions (130) and receiving yardage (1,945). In 2019, he ranked top-five among all tight ends in red zone targets (15), third down targets (29), first downs (32), and share of team receiving yards (22%). Hopkins checked out as an above-average athlete (57th percentile) at the combine with initial concerns that he’s not much of a blocker and was credited with just 10 forced missed tackles over his entire collegiate career by Pro Football Focus.
4. Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri, FY Age: 21.7 (MR TE4): Albert O started his career off with a strong 29-415-11 season as a redshirt freshman at age-19 on his way to 23 career touchdowns, the most among D1 prospects in this class. Okwuegbunam gets plusses for early-age production, but the tail off also hurts. Uneven play and the departure of Drew Lock caused Okwuegbunam to take a step back in 2019, having collegiate lows with 26 receptions and 306 yards. A red zone clasher and straight line player that is best vertically, Okwuegbunam made noise at the combine with a 4.49 40-yard time at 258 pounds.
5. Adam Trautman, Dayton (MR TE5): Trautman has the most career receptions (178), yards (2,295), and touchdowns (31) among tight ends in this class. He amassed his numbers playing low-level competition at Dayton, but at least he dominated that competition. Still, the smaller school prospects at tight end with limited to no resume against top competition have been shaky bets when getting excited over their collegiate production profiles. Dallas Goedert has been a recent exception, but we’ve also seen MyCole Pruitt, Adam Shaheen, Gerald Everett, Eric Saubert, and Temmarick Hemingway selected as non-D1 tight ends within the top-200 picks since 2015 while combining for zero TE1 scoring seasons per game between them.
6. Cole Kmet, Notre Dame, FY Age: 20.8 (MR TE8): Kmet will only be 21-years old during his rookie campaign. After transitioning for baseball to football full-time, Kmet caught 43-of-61 targets for 515 yards and six touchdowns in 2019. Kmet posted the second-highest speed score at the combine by running a 4.70 40 at 262 pounds.
7. Jacob Breeland, Oregon, FY Age: 22.2 (MR TE7): Breeland is a converted wide receiver to tight end. The fifth-year senior was off to a hot start as he began the season with 26-405-6 through six games — marks that would’ve been top-five across the board game over a full season — before he suffered a season-ending knee injury. That injury also forced him to miss working out in Indianapolis this past weekend. Like a lot of the top tight ends in this class, Breeland is passing game-first player who is limited as a blocker at 6’2”, 252 pounds. He averaged over 15.0 yards per catch in every one of his past four seasons.
8. Cheyenne O’Grady, Arkansas, FY Age: 23.3 (MR TE6): O’Grady would have a higher rank if he didn’t come with so much baggage as an older prospect. His production has been just fine, posting 4.2 receptions for 51.5 yards and 0.6 touchdowns per game over the past two seasons. But O’Grady has played in just 15 games after being suspended by each of the past two coaching staffs before leaving the program altogether this November.
9. Josiah Deguara, Cincinnati, FY Age: 22.9 (MR TE11): Deguara is intriguing because he’s one of the few tight ends in this class that can actually contribute in multiple areas, but his overall size (6’2”, 242 pounds) may be something that is a hindrance in the NFL compared to never being a major issue at Cincinnati. Deguara improved each season in receiving production and ranked sixth in this class in share of team receiving yardage (20%), but ultimately gets dinged from an objective stance by putting up lower-level athleticism (36.6% physical score) with below-average marks in all of speed, explosion and agility.
10. Thaddeus Moss, LSU, FY Age: 21.6 (MR TE13): I hate to lead with him being the son of Randy Moss, but that’s the best part of Moss’s profile. He had just 14 targets prior to 2019 before catching 47-of-57 targets for 570 yards and four touchdowns in the nation’s most prolific offense. He’s a physical receiver, but there are questions on his athleticism after averaging just 5.5 yards after the catch and being targeted just 7.7 yards downfield. To compound any concerns over career output and athleticism, Moss was unable to provide any athletic testing due to having a Jones Fracture in his right foot, which could play a part in limiting his initial playing time and output.
11. Devin Asiasi, UCLA, FY Age: 22.4 (MR Rank TE12): Asiasi had just eight receptions prior to 2019, buried behind Caleb Wilson in 2018 and forced to sit out 2017 after transferring from Michigan. On the field this year, he ranked sixth in this class in receiving yardage per game (53.4) and fifth in share of team yardage (21%) while closing the season scorching hot with 18-322-1 over his final three games.
12. Colby Parkinson, Stanford, FY Age: 21.0 (MR TE10): Parkinson is a giant target (6’7”, 252 pounds) that was a contested-catch magnet in 2019. His 14 contested catches were the most in this class. He also has stellar hands, credited with just three drops over his collegiate career. The downside is that he had to make so many contested catches because his physical profile is in the 15th percentile at his position. You don’t need a high vertical when you’re already 6’7”, but his 4.84 40-time gave the fourth-lowest speed score of this tight end group. Best bet for Parkinson at the NFL level is becoming a red zone package player.
13. Dalton Keene, Virginia Tech, FY Age: 20.7 (MR TE14): Keene is the youngest tight end in this class with the second-highest physical profile (83rd percentile) after placing above par in all of speed, agility, and explosion. Unfortunately, he has no production resume to speak of, catching just 59 passes in 36 career games played.
14. Charlie Taumoepeau, Portland State, FY Age: 22.8 (MR Rank TE9): Older, small school, and undersized (6’2”, 240 pounds) are all major question marks, but Taumoepeau tested out as a slightly above average athlete (57th percentile) while ranking fourth in this class with 117 career receptions.
15. Stephen Sullivan, LSU, FY Age: 23.1, (MR TE19): An older prospect who lost playing time as his career went on. Changed over to tight end in 2019 after moonlighting as a wide receiver, getting just 14 targets all season long in the dynamic LSU offense.
16. Jared Pinkney, Vanderbilt, FY Age: 22.4 (MR TE15): After a breakout season (50-774-7) in 2018, Pinkney posted 64-786-7 in his three other surrounding seasons at Vandy including just 20-233-2 this past season. Running a 4.96 40 at 257 pounds didn’t do him any favors in terms of getting that drop off in his final season.
17. Sean McKeon, Michigan (MR TE18): McKeon finished his career at Michigan with fewer receptions in each of his past two seasons compared to the previous season. Closed 2019 with 18.1 yards per catch, but managed to catch just 13-of-28 targets for 235 yards.
18. Charlie Woerner, Georgia (MR TE20): Woerner has a near nonexistent production profile with 34-376-1 across four seasons while registering in the 25th percentile in physical profile at the combine.
19. Mitchell Wilcox, South Florida, FY Age: 23.2 (MR TE17): After a 43-54-2 season on 2018, Wilcox was able to score five times in 2019, but fell behind in all other marks with 28 catches for 350 yards. Checked out in the 5.5 percentile in physical profile after a rough showing at the combine.
20. Dominick Wood-Anderson, Tennessee, FY Age: 21.9 (MR TE16): The JUCO transfer managed to post a 38-408-3 line in 22 games at Tennessee while registering a 29th percentile physical score after running a 4.92 at 261 pounds.