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2016 NFL Draft rankings: Top 10 tight ends

Ranking the top 10 tight ends in this year's NFL Draft class.

Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports
1. Hunter Henry (Arkansas) | 6-foot-5, 250 pounds

Once again we've got ourselves a relatively weak tight end class this year. Hunter Henry is my personal favorite prospect, whom I gave a second-round grade. He is a savvy and intelligent route-runner that has a knack for finding openings against zone coverage. Henry is a smooth runner that sinks his hips well in his breaks to consistently separate at the top of his stem. One critique I have with Henry is that I'd like to see him continue to develop as a blocker at the next level. He is a good, but not great run blocker that needs to improve on functional strength so that he can sustain his blocks longer. Though he has small hands for a TE (9 in.), Henry did not drop a single pass last year and may have the most natural hands of any TE in this class.

2. Tyler Higbee (Western Kentucky) | 6-foot-6, 249 pounds

Hello. I will be your conductor for the Tyler Higbee Hype Train. With the transformation of college football and spread offenses, you don't see a whole lot schools producing TEs that can block anymore. It's becoming a lost art. Like Henry, Higbee is far from a perfect blocking TE, but he shows the willingness and scrappiness that you just don't see anymore from a lot of these spread offense TEs. Higbee is a massive target in the passing game with good athleticism, natural (and enormous) hands and shows the ability to pick up yards after the catch. If his medical reports check out, Higbee will be a hot commodity for TE needy teams on Day 2.

3. Nick Vannett (Ohio State) | 6-foot-6, 257 pounds

Nick Vannett is a large human being with a prototypical inline TE frame. Though he lacks the desired strength to consistently win at the point of attack, Vannett regularly wins his battles with his advanced knowledge of positioning and technique. Vannett is not a very experienced route-runner and was used much more as a blocker than in the passing game. He lacks quickness and explosiveness off the snap and through his breaks, but displays soft hands and is fearless in traffic, allowing him to become a nice weapon on third downs and against zone coverage.

4. Jerell Adams (South Carolina) | 6-foot-5, 247 pounds

One thing that really jumps out at you while watching South Carolina's offense is how awful their quarterback play was. I mean...nothing makes evaluating a receiver tougher than having an awful QB throwing to them. Jerell Adams' college numbers are extremely pedestrian, but after testing well at the combine you can see why he's highly touted as a late Day 2 prospect. Adams' athleticism and freakishly long arms makes him a nice target in the passing game, but it's his ability to do damage after the catch that separates him from the other TEs in this class (averaged 6.9 YAC).

5. Austin Hooper (Stanford) | 6-foot-4, 254 pounds

Hooper was an effective run blocker in college, though he's a tad undersized and may not see the same success in the pros. In the passing game, Hooper struggles to consistently separate at the top of his stem, as he lacks the suddenness and explosiveness you'd like to see out of his breaks. Hooper's top selling point is his strong hands and rather impressive leaping ability to constantly snatch the ball at its highest point.

6. Ben Braunecker (Harvard) | 6-foot-3, 250 pounds

Dem measureables, though.

Braunecker isn't exactly your run-of-the-mill tight end. He's short and thick, yet explosive (phrasing, I know). I don't expect him to have the same impact as a blocker in the pros as he did against weak Ivy League competition, but I love what he can do in the slot to create mismatches in the passing game.

7. Thomas Duarte (UCLA) | 6-foot-2, 231 pounds

Duarte is even smaller than Braunecker. He's built more like a big receiver than he is a tight end and is another guy I can see creating mismatches in the slot. Duarte's top pro comparison (in terms of measurables) via Mockdraftable is Jordan Reed that's exactly what I see when I watch him. Reed and Duarte are virtually the same size and I can definitely see a team taking a chance on Duarte in the later rounds to use him in a similar role as the Redskins use Reed.

8. Jake McGee (Florida) | 6-foot-5, 250 pounds

Jake McGee may have the best hands of any TE in this year's class. Other than that, he has a jack-of-all-trades, master of none type feel to his game. The biggest concern with McGee is his health, as he broke his tibula and fibula during Florida's season opener in 2014. He also dealt with a nagging leg injury in 2015 that eventually led to him missing Florida's bowl game versus Michigan.

9. Henry Krieger Coble (Iowa) | 6-foot-3, 248 pounds

HKC is an undersized blocking specialist that will transition nicely into the NFL coming from Iowa's pro style offense. He's not going to blow you away as an athlete, but HKC is twitchy enough to be effective in the pass game and has reliable hands. I really like him as a possible Brandon Pettigrew replacement for the Lions, and he'll prove to be a nice selection for any team in the later rounds.

10. Stephen Anderson (California) | 6-foot-2, 230 pounds

Like Braunecker and Duarte, Stephen Anderson is too small to be an inline tight end. Unfortunately, Anderson chose not to participate in every combine drill, but his 38 inch vertical and 119 inch broad jump sure as hell got me excited for his pro day. Anderson is the quickest and most explosive TE in this class and it's not really even close.


2016 Positional Rankings: Quarterbackrunning backwide receiver

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