Even after selecting Kyle Pitts 4th overall in 2021 and acquiring Jonnu Smith in a trade this offseason, the Falcons may need bodies at the position. This draft class is sneaky good, and they tested pretty well in Indianapolis. I have some names on this list I’ve previously talked about in my offseason mock draft series linked below:
- Falcons: Offseason 2023 Mock Draft 1.0 (5 Rounds)
- Falcons: Offseason 2023 Mock Draft 2.0 — Post Senior Bowl (5 Rounds)
- Falcons: Offseason 2023 Mock Draft 3.0 — Post Combine (5 Rounds)
- Falcons: Offseason 2023 Mock Draft 4.0 — Post Tampering Period (5 Rounds)
- Falcons: Offseason 2023 Mock Draft 5.0 — Trade Down Scenario (5 Rounds)
Previous editions of this series are listed below:
- Falcons 2023 NFL Draft Big Board: Quarterbacks
- Falcons 2023 NFL Draft Big Board: Running Backs
- Falcons 2023 NFL Draft Big Board: Wide Receivers
I’ll be evaluating players by multiple criteria. I like to mainly focus on traits and intangibles. Since we don’t get access to one-on-one team interviews and medicals, unfortunately, I just have to do my best in that aspect. Additionally, I’ll be doing prospects the Falcons may not be in range for. For example, even though Will Anderson Jr. likely won’t be available with the 8th overall pick, I’ll act as if the Falcons could trade up for any player.
I’ll also be referencing Relative Athletic Score, which is a number from 0 to 10 that combines athletic scores from the combine, with 10 being the best. If you want to check it out, click the link here. Let’s get started!
Current Rostered Tight Ends
TE Kyle Pitts
TE Jonnu Smith
TE Parker Hesse
This is a group that Arthur Smith tends to prioritize, and I could see them making a late addition in the draft like they did with John FitzPatrick last cycle.
11. Brenton Strange — Penn State
You know this is a talented group when we’re kicking it off with Brenton Strange. Strange is a tough blocker who gives a ton of effort, which a lot of NFL teams are going to value. He can make some plays downfield as a blocker or with the ball in his hands; he’s going to be highly valued by teams with creative offensive coaches.
10. Will Mallory — Miami
Mallory has some impressive get-off; he looks like a wide receiver on his routes sometimes. He’s going to be a big-time mismatch for some smaller nickels in the NFL with his size and speed, and he has good hands to boot. He’s a competitive blocker, but it’s nothing too impressive. He’s still a really good looking prospect.
9. Luke Schoonmaker — Michigan
Schoonmaker may have the best hands out of this group, and combined with his testing, his stock is on the rise for me. I didn’t expect him to run a 4.63 at 6’5 and 251 pounds, and he still has some room to fill out his frame. He’s a reliable pair of hands on short routes with room to develop, and I think his best football is ahead of him. There’s value there in the draft.
8. Josh Whyle — Cincinnati
One of the most impressive route runners out of this group, Whyle has a deep back of moves he uses to get open, and he has freakishly long arms to haul in passes. Even at 6’6, he’s a tough player to get to the ground, and I think he’s going to be one of the more highly coveted players in this group.
7. Sam LaPorta — Iowa
When in doubt, grab the Iowa tight end. Even with Iowa’s limited passing game, LaPorta has a very diverse route tree and has extremely reliable hands. While he isn’t much of a blocker, he’s a freak athlete that NFL teams will be able to use in a variety of ways in the pass game.
6. Tucker Kraft — South Dakota State
It’s hard for me to say who has the best frame in this class, but if it wasn’t for our TE1, that honor may go to Tucker Kraft. He has a huge catch radius thanks to his arm length and wide shoulders, and it was a rare occurrence to see him drop a pass. He’s a guy who can get gone in a hurry with his athleticism. His testing in Indy really bumped up his stock.
5. Zack Kuntz — Old Dominion
Maybe the biggest winner from the 2023 NFL Combine, we have a perfect RAS score folks. At 6’8 and 255 pounds, this kid ripped a 4.55 40 yard dash, a 40 inch vertical, and a 4.12 shuttle. That is insane. As expected, Kuntz is a nightmare for defenses with the ball in his hands. He can dash all over the field and has soft hands to boot. Watch out for this kid; don’t be surprised if he turns into an All Pro one day with his freak athleticism.
4. Luke Musgrave — Oregon State
Another elite tester, Musgrave’s leaping ability and 40 were very impressive for a 6’6 guy. He was fantastic at the Senior Bowl and is somewhat of a contested catch savant, which is something you wanna see in college. He runs fantastic routes; he looks like a receiver out there at times. He has some weaknesses as a blocker, but he’s a real weapon in the pass game that should be able to contribute immediately.
3. Dalton Kincaid — Utah
One of the the three wire-to-wire top tight ends in this group, Kincaid was one of the big pieces of the Pac-12 champion Utes. He led the country in receptions for tight ends and was just behind Georgia’s Brock Bowers for yards. He’s undoubtedly the best route runner out of this group and is a very competitive blocker. He has great hands as well. Kincaid is one of the safest prospects in this entire class; not just at the tight end position.
2. Michael Mayer — Notre Dame
A lot of people have Mayer at TE1, and I won’t really argue with you there — he’s a special looking prospect, extremely quick for a guy his size, Mayer is a violent blocker and has the best blocking technique in this entire group. Throw in the fact that he has very soft hands and can run a diverse set of routes from multiple spots, and you have one of the best players in this entire class.
1. Darnell Washington — Georgia
This was one of the toughest decisions I’ve had to make so far, but I just can’t put Darnell Washington anywhere else besides first on this list. Turn on the tape, and you’ll regularly see a guy who relishes in run blocking. In almost every game, Washington is forklifting someone back to the bus 15 yards downfield. He’s 6’7, 265 pounds, and ran a 4.6 40-yard dash. He measured in with 34.5 inch arms. His catch radius is massive and he has very strong hands. You’re looking at a guy who loves to humiliate opposing defenders as a blocker and looks like he was built in a lab — my money is on Washington making a few All Pro teams in his career.
Photographer: Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire