My NFL Draft process:
1) Improve my prospect models.
2) Create the Analytics Top 300 Rankings.
3) Watch tape and post clips to Twitter (@HaydenWinks).
4) Create my personal rankings using steps two and three. This is where we are today:
Winks’ 2020 NFL Draft TE Rankings
Cole Kmet (6’5/255) is still developing as a young multi-sport athlete, but he’s flashed Pro Bowl receiving ability and showed 64th percentile Adjusted SPARQ athleticism at the NFL Combine. His best football is ahead of him -- he only has 60 career receptions -- because he’s barely 21 years old and also played baseball at Notre Dame. On tape, he offers a big catch radius with prototypical NFL size and strength to break tackles and block. He was at his best working down the seam and on shallow out routes, primarily lining up inline. PFF credited him with dropping just two of his 60 targets over his last two seasons, so he should at least be a reliable target in the NFL. After the catch, he runs like a more clumsy Gronk with 4.70 speed. Kmet has Pro Bowl potential but likely needs two or three years to round out his game and grow into his body.
Adam Trautman (6’5/255) is a productive, small school prospect with three-down upside as a willing blocker and capable pass-catcher. A quarterback recruit out of high school, Trautman should be a quick learner but will need time to develop after switching positions at Dayton. His receiving production improved every year, ending with 916 yards and 14 touchdowns across 11 games as a redshirt senior. On tape, he was way more physical than his small school opponents and held up against Senior Bowl competition, especially as a run blocker. His transition as a pass-catcher is trickier given his age (23) and 4.80-second forty, but he did post a 96th percentile three-cone time and showed impressive route running ability for a small-school prospect. Trautman profiles as a Day 2 project with three-down upside in the NFL, but I admittedly struggle assessing small school prospects.
Colby Parkinson (6’7/255) is a lengthy, contested-catch slot tight end with soft hands but average athleticism. As a sophomore, he piled up 485 yards and seven touchdowns while playing alongside Giants TE Kaden Smith, and then declared early after a 48-589-1 junior season that would’ve been bigger if not for an injury to his quarterback. Per PFF, all 15 of his 20+ yard targets were deemed uncatchable, but when he did get an accurate pass, Parkinson tracked it in, as he finished with zero dropped passes. At the NFL Combine, Parkinson showed 4.77 speed and finished the three-cone in the 52nd percentile, good enough scores for a player of his size. Parkinson, who will be a 21-year-old rookie, profiles as a pure receiving tight end with forgettable blocking ability for a team who will use him in the slot.
Albert Okwuegbunam (6’5/255) was a three-year producer at Missouri with 4.49 speed who was at his best in the red zone and on vertical routes. He led the SEC in receiving touchdowns (11) as a freshman despite only playing nine games, but declared for the NFL after a disappointing 26-306-6 junior season. On tape, he has intriguing long speed once his big body gets going, but he isn’t a separator near the line of scrimmage -- he only averaged 5.4 yards on his targets within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. He’s at his best on vertical shots and in the red zone where his size and speed come into play the most. In the NFL, Okwuegbunam should earn a starting job as a versatile tight end with touchdown upside, but he isn’t likely to be a 70+ catch player unless his releases and route running improve.
Hunter Bryant (6’2/241) declared after a 52-852-3 junior season, but surprisingly disappointed with 16th percentile Adjusted SPARQ athleticism at the NFL Combine. At Washington, he led the draft class by accounting for 26% of his team’s receiving yards and had the highest yards per route run (2.9) of any tight end with at least 250 receiving snaps since 2014 per PFF. On tape, he looked faster than his 4.74-second forty time and profiles as a potential mismatch from the slot against slower defenders, but he must go to the right system. He won’t be a consistent run-blocker or red zone weapon in the NFL because of his size. A 21-year-old boom-or-bust prospect with an Evan Engram-like playing style, Bryant offers the passing-down traits to be a team’s No. 1 receiving tight end if his knees cooperate. ACL, MCL, and meniscus injuries limited him to just 14 games as a freshman and sophomore.
Brycen Hopkins (6’4/241) was a three-year starter at Purdue who posted a 61-830-7 season as a redshirt senior. Undersized and a below-average blocker, Hopkins will be competing for pass-catching reps at the NFL as a slot tight end or H-back. On tape, he showed burst off the line of scrimmage and created separation with route running and timing, but he was not a fully polished player despite being older. He dropped 22 passes during his career, including eight last season, and only broke 10 tackles on 130 career receptions. His 4.66 speed allows him to win on vertical routes and crosses against slower defenders, but he’s unlikely to be a consistent in-traffic player. A 23-year-old rookie, Hopkins profiles as a fringe starter who specializes between the 20s as a quick but undersized pass-catching tight end.
Harrison Bryant (6’5/243) was an ultra-productive, three-year starting slot tight end at Florida Atlantic who tested in the 18th percentile at the NFL Combine. As a senior, he led college tight ends in first downs (47), receptions (65), receiving yards (1,005), and yards per route run from the slot (3.53). On tape, he set up Group of 5 defenders with quality route running and timing, but rarely won with physicality or natural separation. His bottom 1st percentile 30.5-inch arms are a concern, as is his NFL projection as a run blocker. Likely maxed out as a 22-year-old experienced player, Bryant profiles as a low-end starter or backup pass-catching tight end with physical limitations and 4.73 speed.
Devin Asiasi (6’3/257) is a thicc Michigan transfer who declared after a 44-641-4 redshirt junior season at UCLA. Shorter than most prospects, Asiasi profiles as a limited inline tight end in the NFL who will likely be asked to block more than run routes. He only had six receptions in his first three years of college eligibility and wasn’t a separator in his lone productive season, as evidenced by his 4.73 speed and 36th percentile Adjusted SPARQ athleticism. Asaisi was a willing blocker on tape and comes with a stocky frame, however, so he should compete for No. 2 or No. 3 duties.
Analytics Top 300 Model: TE11
Thaddeus Moss (6’2/250) is a heavy-footed run-blocking tight end who declared after a 47-570-4 redshirt junior season. On tape, his speed, short-area burst, and agility were weaknesses, and LSU used him as if these traits were deterrents. 31 of his 57 targets came between the numbers within 0-10 yards of the line of scrimmage, and he only had one red zone touchdown despite playing in the best college offense. He at least didn’t drop a pass in 2019 per PFF. Moss, who underwent foot surgery after failing a Combine physical, is at his best in the trenches where he can get after it as a blocker, and thus faces an uphill battle to being a productive pass-catcher in the NFL unlike his father, Randy Moss.
Jacob Breeland (6’5/248) was a three-year contributor at Oregon who averaged 68 yards per game as a redshirt senior before an injury ended his season. Injuries have followed him throughout his career, which has limited his production and overall athletic ability. On tape, he lacked burst at the line of scrimmage and was not a natural separator, but he had some success on crossing routes. His strength at the catch point and as a blocker are also concerns, so his overall upside is low. Breeland will likely compete for backup pass-catching tight end duties in the NFL as a potential H-back.
Jared Pinkney (6’4/254) was a high-end producer in 2018 (50-770-7), but he regressed in all categories last season (20-233-2), including catch rate (46%) and yards per target (5.4). He was not a focal point of the offense as a senior at Vanderbilt and ended up ranking 50th out of 50 tight ends with at least 40 targets in PFF’s yards per route run metric. On tape, he tracks the ball well, but he didn’t create separation easily and wasn’t effective as a blocker. Pinkney also tanked the NFL Combine with a 4.90-second forty and 9th percentile Adjusted SPARQ athleticism, so he profiles as a low-upside backup tight end without a calling card.
Analytics Top 300 Model: TE16
Analytics Top 300 Model: TE10
Analytics Top 300 Model: TE14
Analytics Top 300 Model: TE15
Analytics Top 300 Model: TE12
Analytics Top 300 Model: TE19
Analytics Top 300 Model: TE20
Analytics Top 300 Model
This tight end class lacks top-end talent, but I do think the middle class is serviceable. There wasn't a big gap between TE1 (Cole Kmet) and TE5 (Hunter Bryant) in my rankings. The same could be said about my model's rankings. After that tier of Day 2 prospects, we get into the fringe Day 2/3 tier of Brycen Hopkins, Harrison Bryant, and so on. These players either had a glaring weakness or had a low ceiling overall. I have just about zero interest in anyone below the "Minimum Threshold" line from above, maybe except for Devin Asiasi.
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