I’ve mentioned in an earlier article there’s now a massive Austin Hooper sized hole at the tight end position, and I’ve gone in detail about some free agents who could help bridge that gap. I still think Atlanta needs to bring in some fresh blood at the position. I like what Jaeden Graham offers, but a tandem of him and Luke Stocker isn’t enough on a playoff roster. Here’s a couple of guys I like in the 2020 draft.
Cole Kmet – Notre Dame
Kmet will more than likely be the first tight end selected in a weaker class, and with such a gifted crop of wide receivers, he’s a candidate to slide along with every other name on this list. I still don’t like selecting a tight end this early. He’s a big body at 6’5″ and 230 pounds, but he’ll need to work on his strength and blocking ability at the next level. He’s a gifted athlete, notching eight saves for the Fighting Irish baseball team as well as racking up 108 yards against Georgia on the gridiron.
Albert Okwuegbunam – Missouri
A guy who received some first-round love earlier in the season, Albert (we’re just going to call him Albert, okay?) has all the intangibles to be an elite tight end at the next level. A smooth athlete who can run a variety of routes and block well inline will always be valued, but Albert comes with some injury concerns. He also has issues getting off of the line of scrimmage sometimes, which is more than likely the primary reason he’s dropped on draft boards. Proper coaching will be crucial for him.
Colby Parkinson – Stanford
Replacing one Stanford tight end with another, eh? Standing a menacing 6’7″ and 250 pounds, Parkinson has plenty of experience blocking in a run-heavy pro-style Cardinal offense. He’s pretty athletic for a guy his size and is familiar with pro concepts like chip and stalk blocking. He’ll have to expand his route tree to be effective at the NFL level, but there’s a lot to like about this kid.
Harrison Bryant – Florida Atlantic
Bryant won the 2019 Mackey Award as the top tight end in the nation, and he had an impressive season. You don’t rack up over 1,000 yards and seven TDs by mistake, and he’s feasted on smaller linebackers and safeties. He’s as sure-handed as they come but doesn’t offer much in terms of YAC just yet. He’s pretty well rounded as a blocker, and I think he’s 100% the safest choice out of this group.
Brycen Hopkins – Purdue
One of the biggest up and down guys on draft boards, I’m a big fan of Hopkins’ game. I mentioned him in one of my earlier mock drafts, but a lot has changed since then. The Combine has begun, and I think Hopkins is going to test off the charts athletically. His ability to run a complete route tree is more advanced than anyone on this list. However, he’s also probably the worst blocker of this group. He’d be a weapon in the pass game and a liability in the run game to begin his career, but hey, Dirk Koetter doesn’t run the ball anyways.
Hunter Bryant – Washington
Another guy who’s climbed draft boards over the 2019 season, the other Bryant has a golden opportunity to dethrone Kmet as the top tight end at The Combine. Bryant is similar to Hopkins in the sense that he’s best used as a receiver, but he’s a walking mismatch. He’s had trouble with drops but runs good routes and has crazy open-field speed. His blocking leaves a lot to be desired, but the tools to be an Evan Engram type player are there.
Thad Moss – LSU
Mr. Reliable. Also the son of one of the three greatest wide receivers to ever walk the planet. Moss notably didn’t drop a pass during LSU’s magical 2019 campaign, and he’s made himself some money with clutch grabs in the SEC Championship & CFB playoffs. Moss isn’t the fastest or most athletic guy, but he’s physical at the point of attack and will bust you in the mouth off the ball. He’s probably the best blocker on this list outside of maybe Parkinson, and still has a lot to offer in terms of being a reliable safety valve. Plus, who doesn’t wanna see Randy rocking some Falcons gear?
Adam Trautman – Dayton
Trautman was a man among boys at Dayton. Falcons fans may be wary of small school tight ends after the Eric Saubert experience, but I think Trautman is better. 2,300 career yards and 25 TDs isn’t something you can coast to, and Trautman has the speed, athleticism, and route running ability to succeed in the NFL. The size and toughness are also there, but Trautman will be a raw prospect coming from a smaller school. He was able to bully those defenders like Charles Barkley in the post, but that won’t fly in the NFL. His blocking technique needs a lot of work. Don’t be surprised if he’s drafted a lot earlier than where the Falcons need to be selecting a tight end.
Jared Pinkney – Vanderbilt
Pinkney is another guy with reliable hands but not much to offer in terms of athleticism. He was never a vertical burner in Vanderbilt’s pro-style scheme and often just caught dump-off passes in the flats, only amassing 233 yards in 2019. The Norcross native did have an eye-opening 2018 season, however, racking up 774 yards and seven scores. He’s a really tough guy who will do the dirty work on the line but doesn’t offer much in the passing game.
Jacob Breeland – Oregon
Breeland is another guy who’s slipped down draft boards, but he carries a physicality and toughness you can’t coach. His routes aren’t super explosive, but he’s a willing chip blocker and can open up opportunities for others. Breeland is always fighting for extra yards after the catch, and his blend of blocking ability and vertical route savviness will be very attractive to an NFL team. Breeland did suffer a Torn ACL that ended his 2019 season, so he’s more than likely going to go later than most of these guys.
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