Tight finish is not a identified commodity within the first spherical of the NFL Draft and is among the larger dangers for franchises. Many of the tight ends chosen within the first spherical of the draft over the previous twenty years had been superior athletes who might catch the soccer, but struggled to stay as much as their potential.
Only 4 tight ends have been taken within the high 10 since 2000. Those 4 have had various levels of success within the league, even when all have had good careers (two are nonetheless enjoying and never even within the prime of their careers). The finest tight ends taken within the draft have come after Day 1 (Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Mark Andrews, Dallas Goedert). None of the top-five tight ends in all-time receiving yards had been drafted within the first spherical.
There are no less than two tight ends value taking in Round 1 (Michael Mayer and Dalton Kincaid), making this a cautionary story concerning taking a decent finish this early within the draft. Not each tight finish taken within the first spherical goes to have a Pro Bowl profession, even when a lot of them have a protracted keep within the league.
Who have been the very best tight ends taken within the first spherical since 2000? The tight ends taken in Round 1 have extra spectacular resumes than anticipated.
For extra draft content material, try our newest prospect rankings and mock drafts, in addition to our podcast, “With the First Pick,” that includes former Vikings basic supervisor Rick Spielman. (Check out the newest episode beneath.)
Olsen ended his profession as the most effective tight ends in NFL historical past, a profession worthy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Olsen completed with 742 catches for 8,683 yards and 60 receiving touchdowns in his profession, incomes three Pro Bowl appearances — all with the Panthers (2014-2016). He completed with three 1,000-yard seasons in his profession, simply considered one of eight tight ends to perform the feat. Only Tony Gonzalez, Travis Kelce, Rob Gronkowski and Jason Witten have extra 1,000-yard seasons.
Olsen is seventh all-time in receiving yards amongst tight ends, with all six forward of him heading to the Hall of Fame or are already enshrined. He’s additionally sixth amongst all tight ends in receptions and ninth in receiving touchdowns.
Davis spent 14 years within the NFL, incomes two Pro Bowl alternatives in a protracted tenure with the 49ers. While Davis by no means had a 1,000-yard season, he did end with 900-plus yards in consecutive seasons (20019-2010).
Davis was by no means one of many elite tight ends in his period, which is why choosing him at No. 6 total could have been a attain for the 49ers. Hard to argue together with his productiveness, although, as his 583 catches are twelfth amongst tight ends on the all-time checklist and his 7,562 receiving yards are eleventh.
3. Dallas Clark
A key piece within the Colts’ 2006 Super Bowl run, Clark was a safety blanket in the midst of the sphere for Peyton Manning for almost a decade. Clark had one of many biggest seasons for a decent finish in NFL historical past in 2009, ending with 100 catches for 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns — changing into the primary tight finish to amass 100 receptions and 10 touchdowns in a season.
Clark was a first-team All-Pro in that 2009 season (his lone Pro Bowl choice as properly), ending with 505 catches for five,665 yards and 53 touchdowns in 11 seasons.
Draft choice: No. 30 total, Pittsburgh Steelers (2005)Career: Pittsburgh Steelers (2005-2015)
The biggest tight finish in Steelers historical past, Miller is the franchise’s all-time chief in receptions (592), yards (6,569), and touchdowns (45) amongst tight ends. The beginning tight finish on Pittsburgh’s Super Bowl XL and XLIII title groups, Miller made two Pro Bowls and was a constant blocker all through his profession.
A fan favourite in Pittsburgh, Miller was a franchise icon. Certainly worthy of his draft choice.
5. Jeremy Shockey
One of essentially the most hyped tight finish prospects to come back out of faculty this century, Shockey took the league by storm in his rookie season. A sport changer at tight finish for the Giants, Shockey was a first-team All-Pro in yr one when he completed with 74 catches for 894 yards and two touchdowns — the second most receptions and receiving yards for a rookie tight finish in NFL historical past (on the time).
Shockey made 4 Pro Bowls in his first 5 seasons, ending his 10-year profession with 547 catches for six,143 yards and 37 touchdowns. He gained a Super Bowl with the New Orleans Saints in 2009.
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6. Todd Heap
Draft choice: No. 31 total, Baltimore Ravens (2001)Career: Baltimore Ravens (2001-2010), Arizona Cardinals (2011-2012)
Heap was in-between these two Ravens’ Super Bowl titles, but he nonetheless was a productive tight finish all through his decade in Baltimore. Earning two Pro Bowls with the Ravens, Heap was a wonderful blocker and aided one of many stronger offensive traces of that period.
Heap completed with 499 catches for five,869 yards and 42 touchdowns. He’s the Ravens’ all-time chief in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns amongst tight ends.
7. Kellen Winslow Jr.
Arguably extra hyped of a prospect than Shockey (his teammate at Miami), a torn ACL did not cease Winslow from tearing up the NFL in 2006 and 2007 — when he had 171 catches for 1,981 yards and eight touchdowns. Winslow was a productive participant with the Buccaneers after that, signing the most important contract in NFL historical past for a decent finish on the time (common of $6 million a season).
Winslow by no means lived as much as his father’s Hall of Fame profession and had a sequence of significant off-the-field points since his retirement. He completed with 469 catches for five,236 yards and 25 touchdowns.
Already traded from the Lions, Hockenson is among the high tight ends within the league at his place. A two-time Pro Bowl choice in his first 4 years within the league, Hockenson has 246 catches for two,587 yards and 18 touchdowns in his profession.
Hockenson had his finest season in 2022, racking up 86 catches for 914 yards and 6 touchdowns between the Lions and Vikings. He was traded to Minnesota final season.
Draft choice: No. 23 total, New York Giants (2017)Career: New York Giants (2017-2021), Jacksonville Jaguars (2022-present)
Engram was a productive tight finish within the slot with the Giants, even when his profession in New York was labeled a disappointment (though he did make a Pro Bowl). He obtained a second probability in Jacksonville and completed with 73 catches for 766 yards and 4 touchdowns — essentially the most receptions and receiving yards by a decent finish in a season in Jaguars historical past.
Engram has 335 catches for 3,594 yards and 20 touchdowns in his six seasons.
Draft choice: No. 4 total, Atlanta Falcons (2021)Career: Atlanta Falcons (2021-present)
The solely top-five choice at tight finish this century, Pitts lived as much as the standing by having an unbelievable rookie season. Pitts joined Mike Ditka (1,076 yards in 1961) as the one rookie tight ends to document no less than 1,000 receiving yards in NFL historical past, ending with 68 catches for 1,026 yards and a landing (already the Falcons’ single-season document for tight ends in receiving yards).
Pitts already has a Pro Bowl on his resume, and whereas accidents derailed his sophomore season within the NFL, he already is among the sport’s high receiving tight ends.
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