The 2017 tight end class is one of the stronger tight end groups we’ve seen in recent memory. There are possibly 10 guys that can get drafted within the first two days. This particular class is marked with a bunch of guys that can run very fast for their position. Five guys ran under 4.6 seconds for their 40-yard dash. The average time was 4.66, which is the best for a tight end class since 2003. Many experts are hailing this as the deepest tight end class in the history of the combine. Overall, it’s a class that has a lot of versatility and traits that should produce several hybrid-style tight ends.
O.J. Howard, Alabama– Howard was one of the tight ends who were at the top of the group. Howard already established himself this past season as someone with the tools to be an all-around player. On Saturday, he showed us once again that he has most of the physical traits needed to be successful. He had the second best 40-yard dash time (4.51), as well as the fourth most bench presses (22). He was the only tight end to be in the top five for both categories.
Evan Engram, Ole Miss– Staying with the theme of speed, Engram posted the best 40 time at 4.42 seconds. In the positional drills, he showed us what we already knew during the season–he is a natural pass-catcher.
David Njoku, Miami (FL)– Njoku is yet another tight end who has already established himself as an athletic pass catcher. He had the second best broad jump (11’1) and had the fourth-highest vertical jump (37.5 inches). However, he also turned heads with a good showing in the blocking drills, showing great form and using his hands well.
In this class, nobody truly underperformed, but some performances left more to be desired.
Jordan Leggett, Clemson– Leggett, who many people consider to be a top ten tight end, didn’t run in the 40-yard dash, and only recorded 18 reps at the bench press.
Jake Butt, Michigan– Due to an ACL tear suffered in his bowl game this past season, Butt won’t be able to actually perform at the combine. He won’t be able to start running until later this month, and won’t return to football activities until May or June. He’s considering doing the bench press at Michigan’s pro day on March 24, but as expected, we didn’t see any action this weekend from him. Some teams may like the idea of getting him in the middle rounds and get a first-round talent out of him when he’s fully recovered.
Pharaoh Brown, Oregon– Brown didn’t jump out to anyone during the position drills, but he showcased his strength with 24 reps on the bench press.
Bucky Hodges, Virginia Tech– Another tight end who got farther up on some people’s lists because of his physical ability. He was at the top of the board for vertical jump (39.0 in) and broad jump (11’2”)
George Kittle, Iowa– In this deep tight end class, Kittle is a little bit under the radar. He’s a pound heavier than Njoku, but ran a faster 40-yard dash at 4.52 seconds. He also impressed as a blocker during positional drills.