In my less than spectacular football playing days, I played Tight End, Wide Receiver and Defensive End. So, those are usually my favorite players and the positions I follow more than any others. Unlike the majority of young boys growing up, Quarterback never interested me at all. But, I will say that I enjoyed the sacks that was able to make back in my day.
These are my picks for top Tight Ends for either the 2016 season, or for the future.
1. Jake Butt – Michigan: At 6-6, 250, Butt is a great pass catcher and a more than adequate blocker. The Wolverines have a lot of Tight Ends and Butt is their leader and top guy. With one more college game remaining, Butt has 135 career catches. 51 receptions came as a junior and 43 so far as a senior. As long as he remains healthy, Butt should be a long time NFL player.
2. OJ Howard – Alabama: I believe the 6-6, 250 Howard may have the best long term potential and
that is part of what this list is about. I’ve felt for the last 3 seasons that Bama should get him the ball more instead of waiting for the national championship game. This guy is a serious mismatch for any Linebacker and Defensive Back. He has outstanding speed and athletic ability.
3. Jordan Leggett – Clemson: I had others rated over him until recently. Hey, I can have a change of heart. The talent has been there, but I believe I misjudged his speed earlier. Leggett is 6-5, 260 and a good blocker. Leggett is one of the top receiving Tight Ends in the country and is very dependable especially in the Red Zone. So, much credit goes to the Quarterback and deservedly so in Deshaun Watson’s case, but he also had some hugely talented receivers including
4. Cole Hikutini – Louisville: Excellent receiver for Heisman winner Lamar Jackson. Hikutini only caught 19 passes as a junior after coming in from City College of San Francisco. The Sacramento native is a dangerous weapon at Tight End. As a senior, Hikutini caught 49 passes with a bowl game remaining and those catches resulted in 8 Touchdowns. He’s good for a big first down, or even as a deep threat.
5. David Njoku – Miami: The Hurricanes have always been know for their Tight Ends and Njoku along with teammate Christopher Herndon IV are the next in line. Miami also has a history with New Jersey Tight Ends including Njoku and the Carolina Panthers Greg Olsen. Njoku has fabulous speed and averaged over 17 yards per catch on 38 receptions. Njoku is about 6-4, 245
6. Mike Gesicki – Penn State: Gesicki finally came into his own this season after showing bad
hands the previous 2 seasons. He is extremely athletic and he was an outstanding basketball player in high school. Gesicki is 6-6, 255 and looks long and lanky. He’s got good speed and leaping ability and he seems to have overcome his stone hands from previous seasons.
7. Scott Orndoff – Pittsburgh: Orndoff has been a good blocker, but this past season he showed some surprising speed. In 2016, Orndoff was Quarterback Nate Peterman’s second favorite receiver and he came down with 33 receptions for 558 yards and 5 Touchdowns.
8. Jeremy Sprinkle – Arkansas: Maybe Sprinkle should be rated higher, but he did not have the season I expected. He is 6-6, 255 and a good blocker and receiver. As a senior, Sprinkle took over the starting role from Hunter Henry who declared for the NFL. This past season, Sprinkle hauled in 33 passes for 380 yards and 4 Touchdowns.
9. Troy Fumagelli – Wisconsin: The junior Tight End from Aurora, Illinois is one of the more complete prospects in the country. He is 6-6, 250 and a very dependable receiver. This past season, he caught 41 for nearly 500 yards and a score. Playing at Wisconsin, you know that Fumagelli can block and he is a go to guy in short yardage.
10.Marcus Baugh – Ohio State: Baugh didn’t get many chances to catch the ball, but he made the most of it with 24 receptions for 269 yards and 2 Touchdowns. He demonstrated his athletic ability on one of those Touchdown catches when he avoided a couple of tacklers and crossed the goal line. He’s 6-5, 260 and a good combination of blocker and receiver.
11. Christopher Herndon IV – Miami: Sidekick of David Njoku, these guys are almost like twins equally adept at receiving and blocking. Herndon is slightly bigger, but has that same kind of speed as his teammate. Herndon caught 25 passes for nearly 300 yards and a couple of Touchdowns. He is listed at 6-4, 255.
12. Josiah Price – Michigan State: The Spartans fell apart this season, but Price has been a heavy contributor for 4 seasons and he is the all time leading Tight End in receptions and Touchdowns. 2016 was his best year as a receiver with 38 catches. The Spartans like to run the ball and the 6-4, 255 Price is a good blocker.
13. Pharaoh Brown – Oregon: Without the serious injury, Brown might be higher on this list. Brown
is about 6-6, 250 with great hands and athletic ability. Brown has great leaping ability and can come down with the big catch. After being injured in 2014, Brown sat out all of 2015 and he came back for the 2016 season and he caught 33 passes for 426 yards and 5 Touchdowns.
14. Dalton Schultz – Stanford: The Cardinal of Stanford is another school that is famous for it’s Tight Ends like Miami and Notre Dame. Schultz is 6-6, 240 and a talent as a receiver. As a junior, Schultz caught 21 passes for just over 200 yards and a Touchdown. He will need to bulk up a bit more and work on his blocking if he is going to make an impact at the next level.
15. Ryan Izzo – Florida State: In recent seasons, the Seminoles have had quality Tight Ends. Mostly, that was Nick O’Leary and now Ryan Izzo and Mavin Saunders. Izzo is only a sophomore and he had 19 receptions for 227 yards and a Touchdown. Izzo is a good blocker as well as a guy with good quickness and hands.
16. Sean Culkin – Missouri: Culkin is a nice mixture of blocking and receiving. The Tigers have had a rough couple of seasons, but Culkin is a player. With good size at 6-6, 250 and good hands, Culkin caught 24 passes this past season. But, they just didn’t throw the ball a lot to the Tight End.
17. Hayden Hurst – South Carolina: Former minor league baseball player and walk-on Hurst has been a bright spot for the Gamecocks. An argument could be made for Hurst being the top offensive
player on the team and he caught 42 passes for 530 yards this past season. Hurst is a good athlete with good quickness and he catches the ball well. He is 6-5, 250 and a decent run blocker.
18. Michael Roberts – Toledo: One of the larger Tight Ends around at 6-5, 270 and even at that size, he has good speed. The monster sized Tight End caught 43 passes for 514 yards and an amazing 15 Touchdowns. Obviously, at his size he is ideal in the red zone and as a blocker in the run game. He is a senior and it will be interesting how he tests for NFL scouts.
19. Ethan Wolf – Tennessee: Another tall and athletic Tight End that just doesn’t get the ball thrown to him that often. Ohio native, Wolf, is 6-6, 245 and he can run and block. Wolf caught 20 passes in 2016 as a junior for 224 yards and 2 Touchdowns.
20. Isaac Nauta – Georgia: True freshman and the top Tight End recruit in the country last year. He’s definitely the guy of the future at Tight End in college football. Good receiver at Tight End and plenty of time to gain size and strength. Nauta caught 27 passes for 353 yards and 3 Touchdowns. He runs really well and has a bright future.
Bucky Hodges – Virginia Tech: I love the guy and he would be in my top 5, but he plays only Wide Receiver at this time.
Erich Schneider – Duke: 6-7, 240 sophomore with talent.
Daniel Helm – Duke: 6-4, 240 36″ vertical and a Tennessee transfer.
Alec Bloom – Connecticut: 6-6, 260 runs well enough and good blocker, plays an H Back and splits out wide a lot but only caught 15 passes as a junior. As a sophomore, he caught 22.
Mitchell Wilcox – USF: Redshirt freshman that is 6-4, 250 and a great athlete.
Tommy Sweeney – Boston College:Big Tight End at 6-5, 260.
Mavin Saunders – Florida State Izzo is not the only talented Tight End for Seminoles.
Mark Andrews – Oklahoma Big play Tight End.
Tyrone Wheatley – Michigan: 6-6, 275 and can really run. Not used much yet.
Devin Asiasi – Michigan: Very talented kid with a bright future.
Sean McKeon – Michigan: True freshman and yet another excellent Wolverine Tight End
Ian Bunting – Michigan: 6-7, 250 back up Tight End.
Nate Wozniak – Minnesota: Huge guy at 6-10, 275. Only had 12 receptions.
Cole Herdman – Purdue: Productive Tight End on bad team.
Adam Breneman – U Mass maybe most catches by TE in country with 70. average size at 6-4, 250
Mason Schreck – Buffalo caught 59 passes and fairly good size 6-5, 260
Tyler Conklin – Central Michigan: 40 catches.
Nigel Kilby – Eastern Michigan 6-7, 240 freshman caught 34 passes for 4 Touchdowns.
Ryan Smith – Miami Ohio 6-4, 265 with 24 catches 4 tds
Shane Wimann – Northern Illinois 6-4, 250 24 catches for 6 tds
Johnny Mundt – Oregon The Ducks other good Tight End.
Jared Pinkney – Vanderbilt: Good young player from Norcross, Georgia.
CJ Conrad – Kentucky: Good player out of Ohio.
Gerald Everett – South Alabama: Big time pass catcher.