The 83rd NFL draft kicks off on April 26, and everyone – coaches, fans, players, prospects, and owners – can’t wait. Come Thursday, fans will be waiting with bated breath to hear those sweet words: “With the first overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, the Cleveland Browns have selected …” This sets into motion a chain reaction of selections, across multiple hours, that are heralded as brilliant moves or unfortunate picks.
As we’ve already looked at the other top offensive positions – quarterback, running back, and wide receiver – it’s time to round out our coverage and look at the tight ends of the 2018 NFL draft class. Is there another Rob Gronkowski in the mix? Perhaps one that parties just a little less? Let’s further examine the tight end draft class of 2018.
Checking Out the Tight Ends
No tight end is currently projected to be a sure-fire first round pick. That’s right – if you feel your team has had a major need for an impact offensive player in this role, you may want to get further invested into the second round. With several teams on record as needing a quarterback (USA Today ranked the Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, and New York Jets as “desperate” for a new signal caller), tight ends shouldn’t expect to hear their name called on Thursday night unless something completely unexpected happens. Sorry, Dallas Goedert.
Even though Goedert may have to wait until Friday to find out where he’ll begin his rookie career, the Jackrabbits’ star tight end shouldn’t be disappointed. Several of the most prominent tight ends in the NFL weren’t selected in the first round either. Ring-winning tight ends Zach Ertz, of the Philadelphia Eagles, and Rob Gronkowski, of the New England Patriots, were both second-round selections. Only Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen can boast being selected in the first round of the NFL draft.
The top tight ends being drafted this year have one thing in common: They’re really fast. Out of those who went to the combine and ran the 40-yard dash (only Goedert declined), no one posted a time higher than 4.67 seconds. The 6-foot-6-inch, 250-pound senior from Penn State, Mike Gesicki, posted a 4.54-second 40-yard dash, which is faster than almost every current tight end playing in the NFL. Only Greg Olsen and Jimmy Graham, now suiting up for the Green Bay Packers, ran it faster: 4.53 seconds apiece.
Gesicki also boasted better broad jump and vertical jump results than any modern player. He’d be most similar to Graham in his performance, but just a tad more athletic. Perhaps the former Nittany Lion can add the same dynamism to an offense-in-need the way Graham has over his lengthy NFL career.
Past Success, Future Projections
If you were drafting on performance alone, Dallas Goedert or Mark Andrews, from Oklahoma, would be the top two candidates in the 2018 tight end class. While Goedert has the edge on total receiving yards (he is a senior compared to Andrews, who is leaving after his junior year), Andrews finished with one more career college touchdown than his peer.
Perhaps due to the rise in importance of the tight end position in the modern NFL offense, the draft class generally boasts more yardage and touchdowns in their college careers than the league’s best. Ertz, Gronkowski, and Kelce were the only ones with double-digit touchdown totals. Given this information, is the league about to see another evolution at the position with this talented, and productive, incoming class?
Your Top Choice
After surveying over 300 NFL fans, the answer was clear: Southern Carolina Gamecock and former Pittsburgh Pirates minor league baseball player Hayden Hurst was the No. 1 tight end draft pick. Although his path to the NFL draft is the most unusual of this bunch, the 6-foot-5-inch, 250-pound tight end has the physical characteristics to make him successful at the professional level.
Goedert may not be the flashiest of the options, as he’s the tight end fans are least excited for among the current class. Just slightly behind Gesicki, Goedert may not get fans super excited when he’s selected, but the lack of enthusiasm may center around the fact he played at a smaller program against weaker teams. Don’t be surprised if, and when, he starts putting up big numbers in his rookie season. Goedert is a stud, even if he’s not from a typical football powerhouse.
Time to Make a Selection
While the Cleveland Browns are already on the clock, you will be too once the pick for your team comes in. Rush to Fanatics to get the latest officially licensed merchandise and apparel to celebrate the 2018 NFL draft class and your team’s next great player!