Whew, what an NFL Draft! I had many jaw dropping reactions in the first round and it continued throughout the entire three days. Which is exactly why I love the it! One important thing to remember is NFL teams are picking players to fit certain roles on their teams. They aren’t picking players to put up statistics or for fantasy football purposes. This is why our rankings and expectations rarely match what happens in the draft both before and after the event. Therefore, i’m going to be transparent with my post draft rankings as I adjust to account for what NFL teams said about prospects.
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2019 Rookie Pre-Draft TE Rankings
|#||Name | College Team|
|1||TJ Hockenson | Iowa|
|2||Noah Fant | Iowa|
|3||Irv Smith Jr | Alabama|
|4||Kahale Warring | San Diego State|
|5||Jace Sternberger | Texas A&M|
|6||Dawson Knox | Mississippi|
|7||Caleb Wilson | UCLA|
2019 Rookie Post-Draft TE Rankings
|#||Name | NFL Team|
|1||TJ Hockenson | Detroit|
|2||Noah Fant | Denver|
|3||Irv Smith Jr | Minnesota|
|4||Kahale Warring | Houston|
|5||Jace Sternberger | Green Bay|
|6||Dawson Knox | Buffalo|
|7||Josh Oliver | Jacksonville|
|8||Foster Moreau | Oakland|
|9||Trevon Wesco | Tennessee|
|10||Alize Mack | New Orleans|
|11||Drew Sample | Cincinnati|
|12||Caleb Wilson | Arizona|
|13||Zach Gentry | Pittsburgh|
Hockenson and Fant are in the top tier with a steep drop off afterward. Both players landed in good situations and have high upsides. Hockenson is more of a safe pick, but Fant has a wider range of outcomes.
#3 Irv Smith through #6 Dawson Knox are all athletic, receiving tight ends that I like their potential. It’s not as great as tier one, but they’re solid players. The FF world may be surprised when one or two of them emerge to help their teams.
#7 and #8 with a small tier drop to #9 and #10. The talent is lessened at this tier and so is the upside. TE2 is the best case scenario.
1) TJ Hockenson – Detroit – Round 1 Pick 8
Hockenson was drafted as highly as most anticipated. He lands in Detroit, where they struck out once at this position with Eric Ebron. However, Hockenson is a better, and more complete, prospect. He has TE1 upside and high end TE2 floor in FF, which makes him a very safe player to draft. The Lions only have Kenny Golladay as an established receiver in his way for the future, as Marvin Jones might not be on the team in 2020. When looking for high end TE production, chase targets. Hockenson has a chance to get plenty of them in Detroit with Golladay only having 119 in 2018.
2) Noah Fant – Denver – Round 1 Pick 20
Fant was drafted into a good situation. The Broncos have a well balanced, young group of players with Courtland Sutton, Daesean Hamilton, Phillip Lindsay, and Royce Freeman. Now pair them with young QBs Drew Lock and Brett Rypien to see a potentially very bright future. Someone needs to emerge as the target hog in this offense, which gives Fant a chance. He’s not going to be an amazing blocker, but he’s an athletic freak, who will be a matchup nightmare. High end TE1 to high end TE2 will be his range of outcomes in FF. He’s a safe player to draft in a class with so much uncertainty.
3) Irv Smith Jr – Minnesota – Round 2 Pick 50
Surprising pick to Minnesota at first glance, but makes more sense long term. Kyle Rudolph is on the last year of his contract and then the Vikings will transition to Smith. Good receiving TE, who can line up all over the field. He should get many single matchups with defenders due to Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen getting all the attention. His target upside is hindered, but they lack a consistent third option in that offense. Kirk Cousins provides more stability and why Smith could see solid numbers in 2020 similar to Rudolph in the past.
4) Kahale Warring – Houston – Round 3 Pick 86
Very high on Warring’s skills and athleticism, but he’s still a bit raw. Really good hands and body control as well. With the recent news of Ryan Griffin, it opens a bigger opportunity for Warring in 2019. Houston throws the football and only one target has been able to stay healthy, which also is a bonus for Warring. His upside is low end TE1 to high end TE2 if everything breaks right, but that’s still very good for where you can draft him.
5) Jace Sternberger – Green Bay – Round 3 Pick 75
A good pass catching TE goes to the Packers and Aaron Rodgers gets to throw him the football!!! Hype hype hype! This story has been played out with Jermichael Finley, Martellus Bennett, Jared Cook, Jimmy Graham, and others. Not one of these players has lived up to the hype with Rodgers, but that was also a different offense. I like Sternberger’s talent and Rodgers throws a great amount of touchdowns, but I’m not going to reach for Sternberger.
6) Dawson Knox – Buffalo – Round 3 Pick 96
Knox is an athletic talent, who was forced to block more than he should’ve at Mississippi. A former walk on, he produced when called up, but never scored a touchdown. He gets drafted in the third round, which speaks to his talent, to Buffalo and most don’t see this as a good destination. However, they don’t have an elite talent absorbing all of the targets. Knox has an opportunity and that’s all you can ask for in a situation for a young TE.
7) Josh Oliver – Jacksonville – Round 3 Pick 69
8) Foster Moreau – Oakland- Round 4 Pick 137
Both players land in situations without a great TE ahead of them on the depth chart. Oliver has an easier path to targets, but less stability. Moreau has to yield to Antonio Brown for the next few years. Oliver has a better receiving skill set right now, but Moreau is the better athlete.
9) Trevon Wesco – Tennessee – Round 4 121
10) Alize Mack – New Orleans – Round 7 Pick 231
The last two players with low chance at being FF relevant. Wesco is a solid all around TE, who is better in that regard than Jonnu Smith. He’s not as good of a receiver, but could carve out a roll. Mack is a former high end recruit, who didn’t have a great career at Notre Dame. He flashed, but ultimately disappointed. Landing in New Orleans gives him a small pulse in the FF world.
11) Drew Sample – Cincinnati – Round 2 Pick 52
12) Caleb Wilson – Arizona – Round 7 Pick 254
13) Zach Gentry – Pittsburgh – Round 5 Pick 141