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2024 NFL Draft: Our Top 10 Graded TEs, Categorizing Play Style and Scheme Fit, Brock Bowers Leads The Way!

The Evolution Of The Tight End Position

The role of the tight end, traditionally seen as an extension of the offensive line with a focus on blocking, has evolved into a more versatile position that also demands excellence in receiving. In today's NFL, tight ends are showcased as primary targets, particularly in the short and intermediate passing game. Modern tight ends like Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce exemplify the expanded role of the TE position. The tight end position has become far more critical, and when you can find TEs with dual versatility as inline blockers who can also line up anywhere as a receiver to create a mismatch, you've hit the lottery. In the 2023 NFL Draft, two names that embodied this aspect were Dalton Kincaid and Sam LaPorta.

The 2024 NFL Draft will feature at least one potential elite talent at the tight end position in Brock Bowers, who possesses generational talent. Following him are several players with varying play styles and skill sets. Much like the 2023 tight-end draft class, there is a lot of potential. Several players have made a name for themselves throughout the NFL Combine and Pro Day process, including Penn State's Theo Johnson, Illinois's Tip Reiman, and Kansas State's Ben Sinnott, to name a few. Meanwhile, several more have been reviewed over and over through film and advanced data analysis and are starting to catch fire as of late, such as Iowa's Erick All and Florida State's Jaheim Bell.

How We Scout The TE Position:

In today's NFL, the Tight End position is more versatile than ever. Today's TE's at the highest levels are being utilized all over the formation as a receiver while providing inline blocking, similar to an offensive lineman in the run game and as a pass protector.

NFL teams invested anywhere from 1% to 15% in cap space in 2022 toward their TE room.

Below is a list of critical components we use to grade the TE position during the NFL Draft process. Every TE receives a grade on a scale of 1-10 for each of the below components during the scouting process. Once each player component is graded, we attach a final grade to indicate where the player stands before entering the NFL Draft, and then we attach a ceiling grade based on future potential.

Scouting the tight end (TE) position in the NFL requires evaluating a player's versatility, athleticism, and blocking ability.

Here are some key factors to consider when scouting a TE:

  • Size and Speed

  • Receiving Ability

  • Route Running

  • Blocking Ability

  • Football IQ

  • Durability

When scouting a TE, it's important to evaluate all of these factors and the player's overall performance on the field. It's also important to consider the team's specific needs and whether the TE's skills and attributes match the team's offensive system and style of play.

Examples Of The Three TE Types

The Blocking TE

  • Definition: A Blocking TE is primarily utilized for their skills in run blocking and pass protection. They line up next to the offensive linemen and are tasked with creating running lanes for running backs or providing extra protection for the quarterback.

  • Example: AJ Barner is noted as a Blocking TE. In this role, his primary contribution comes from effectively blocking defensive players, contributing significantly to his team's running and passing plays by providing the necessary protection.

The Receiving TE

  • Definition: A Receiving TE is essentially a hybrid between a wide receiver and a traditional tight end, offering a size and speed mismatch against most defenders.

  • Example: Ja'Tavion Sanders fits the description of a Receiving TE. Sanders is recognized for his receiving prowess, utilizing his route-running ability and hands to make significant contributions to the passing game, often becoming a favored target for quarterbacks looking to exploit mismatches in the defense.

The Versatile, Blocky, Catchy TE

  • Definition: The Versatile, Blocky, Catchy TE combines the best of both worlds: they are effective as both blockers and receivers.

  • Example: Brock Bowers exemplifies a Versatile, Blocky, Catchy TE. Bowers' versatility allows him to be used in a variety of ways within an offense. He can stay in line to block, helping in the run game, or he can run routes and catch passes, showcasing his skills as a receiver. This makes him a dual threat that defenses must account for on every play.

These categories highlight the strategic importance and versatility of the tight end position in modern football. Each type brings unique skills to the field, allowing offenses to be more creative and adaptable in their game planning.

2024 NFL Draft Tight End Player Grades and Rankings

1). Brock Bowers - Georgia (Versatile TE)

  • Height/Weight: 6'4", 230 lbs

  • Inline Usage: 45%

  • Slot Usage: 55%

  • ADoT: 6.5

  • YAC: 8.7

  • Cont. Catch Rate: 23%

  • NFL Potential: Elite

  • Player Comparison: George Kittle

  • Current Draft Projection: Top 10 Pick

  • NFL Teams Mocked: Chargers, Bengals, Jets

Play Style/Scheme: Bowers' dynamic versatility and athleticism are hallmarks of his play, making him a dual threat as both a proficient pass catcher and a capable blocker. His exceptional route running and speed enable him to create separation from defenders, showcasing his elite athletic capabilities at the TE position.

2). Ja'Tavion Sanders - Texas (Receiving TE)

  • Height/Weight: 6'4", 249 lbs

  • Inline Usage: 75%

  • Slot Usage: 25%

  • ADoT: 9.8

  • YAC: 7.7

  • Cont. Catch Rate: 54%

  • NFL Potential: High-End Starter Potential

  • Player Comparison: David Njoku

  • Current Draft Projection: 2nd Round

  • NFL Teams Mocked: Bengals, Dolphins, Commanders

Play Style/Scheme: Sanders is a quintessential modern receiving TE, showcasing exceptional route-running and catch capabilities, especially in traffic. His ability to maneuver after the catch marks him as a significant threat, though further development in run blocking is anticipated to enhance his all-around game.

3). Ben Sinnott - Kansas State (Versatile TE)

  • Height/Weight: 6'4", 250 lbs

  • Inline Usage: 61%

  • Slot Usage: 39%

  • ADoT: 10.1

  • YAC: 6.8

  • Cont. Catch Rate: 36%

  • NFL Potential: High-End Starter Potential

  • Player Comparison: T.J. Hockenson

  • Current Draft Projection: 4th Round

  • NFL Teams Mocked: Patriots, Commanders, 49ers

Play Style/Scheme: Sinnott is celebrated for his versatile capabilities, performing adeptly both in line and as a receiver. His well-balanced skill set in physicality and technical proficiency highlights his adaptability, making him a well-rounded prospect with solid performances that underscore his readiness for the NFL.

4). Jaheim Bell - Florida State (Versatile TE)

  • Height/Weight: 6'3", 230 lbs

  • Inline Usage: 49%

  • Slot Usage: 51%

  • ADoT: 7.9

  • YAC: 8.1

  • Cont. Catch Rate: 50%

  • NFL Potential: Mid-Level Starter Potential

  • Player Comparison: Jordan Reed

  • Current Draft Projection: 5th Round

  • NFL Teams Mocked: Patriots, Vikings, Eagles

Play Style/Scheme: Bell exemplifies the versatile TE role, showcasing an impressive ability to adapt and perform across multiple positions on the field. His dynamic playstyle makes him a valuable asset for offenses seeking a TE who can balance receiving talents with effective blocking.

5). Cade Stover - Ohio State (Versatile TE)

  • Height/Weight: 6'4", 250 lbs

  • Inline Usage: 52%

  • Slot Usage: 48%

  • ADoT: 8.2

  • YAC: 6.9

  • Cont. Catch Rate: 60%

  • NFL Potential: Mid-Level Starter Potential

  • Player Comparison: Hayden Hurst

  • Current Draft Projection: 4th Round

  • NFL Teams Mocked: Bengals, Bears, Commanders

Play Style/Scheme: Stover's solid inline blocking and his reliability as a receiver define him as a dual-threat TE. His physicality and versatility afford him the adaptability to fit into schemes that leverage TEs for both blocking support and critical pass-catching, particularly on short to medium routes.

6). Theo Johnson - Penn State (Versatile TE)

  • Height/Weight: 6'6", 250 lbs

  • Inline Usage: 56%

  • Slot Usage: 44%

  • ADoT: 7.2

  • YAC: 5.0

  • Cont. Catch Rate: 75%

  • NFL Potential: Mid-Level Starter Potential

  • Player Comparison: Luke Musgrave

  • Current Draft Projection: 4th Round

  • NFL Teams Mocked: Commanders, Bengals, Vikings

Play Style/Scheme: Johnson brings a compelling mix of receiving talent and effective blocking to the table, making him a versatile asset in multi-TE sets. His height and athleticism enable him to be a reliable target, particularly in contested catch situations, while his blocking skills contribute to his all-around utility on the field.

7). Tip Reiman - Illinois (Blocking TE)

  • Height/Weight: 6'5", 271 lbs

  • Inline Usage: 66%

  • Slot Usage: 34%

  • ADoT: 6.0

  • YAC: 5.5

  • Cont. Catch Rate: 25%

  • NFL Potential: Mid-Level Starter Potential

  • Player Comparison: Jason Witten

  • Current Draft Projection: 6th Round

  • NFL Teams Mocked: Patriots, Bengals, Lions

Play Style/Scheme: Reiman is noted for his old-school, blocking-focused TE style, combining significant physicality with dependable pass-catching ability in short to medium routes, which is ideal for balanced offensive schemes.

8). Erick All - Iowa (Versatile TE)

  • Height/Weight: 6'5", 255 lbs

  • Inline Usage: 42%

  • Slot Usage: 58%

  • ADoT: 8.7

  • YAC: 6.1

  • Cont. Catch Rate: 34%

  • NFL Potential: Mid-Level Starter Potential

  • Player Comparison: Gerald Everett

  • Current Draft Projection: 5th Round

  • NFL Teams Mocked: Jets, Commanders, Saints

Play Style/Scheme: All demonstrates good versatility, adept in both receiving and blocking, making him suitable for varied offensive schemes, emphasizing his potential as a comprehensive TE option in the NFL.

9). AJ Barner - Michigan (Blocking TE)

  • Height/Weight: 6'6", 251 lbs

  • Inline Usage: 71%

  • Slot Usage: 29%

  • ADoT: 8.2

  • YAC: 4.9

  • Cont. Catch Rate: 43%

  • NFL Potential: Low-Level Starter Potential

  • Player Comparison: Drew Sample

  • Current Draft Projection: 5th Round

  • NFL Teams Mocked: Cardinals, 49ers, Jets

Play Style/Scheme: Barner embodies the classic TE mold, offering a strong blocking foundation complemented by reliable receiving capabilities, fitting best in pro-style offenses that value a TE's multifaceted role.

10). Jared Wiley - TCU (Receiving TE)

  • Height/Weight: 6'6", 250 lbs

  • Inline Usage: 63%

  • Slot Usage: 37%

  • ADoT: 6.9

  • YAC: 6.4

  • Cont. Catch Rate: 41%

  • NFL Potential: Low-Level Starter Potential

  • Player Comparison: Martellus Bennett

  • Current Draft Projection: 5th Round

  • NFL Teams Mocked: Panthers, Bucs, Patriots

Play Style/Scheme: Wiley excels as a receiving TE with burgeoning blocking skills, leveraging his size and athleticism to dominate in the passing game, especially on vertical routes, poised for growth with further coaching.


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