Atlanta Falcons Blog

Atlanta Falcons blog by D. Orlando Ledbetter, the pro football and Atlanta Falcons reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Top 10 tight ends in the 2016 NFL draft

FLOWERY BRANCH -- Here are the top 10 tight end prospects (with projected draft round) for the 2016 NFL draft, which is set for April 28-30 in Chicago:

1. Hunter Henry, 6-5, 250, Arkansas (second): He’s a crafty route runner and has the best hands of the tight end class. He was the John Mackey Award winner as the top tight end in the nation last season and was named the first-team All-SEC. He was a reliable third down target with 93 of his 116 career catches resulting in a first down or touchdown.

2. Austin Hooper, 6-3 ¾, 254, Stanford (second-third): He’s just not as big as Hunter, but compares favorably. He might be a better blocker at the point of attack. His hands measured larger than any of the tight ends at the combine. He also had enough speed to get open down the field on vertical routes.

3. Nick Vannett, 6-6, 257, Ohio State (second-third): He may be the best blocking tight end in the draft. He had to work on getting away from defenders at the line of scrimmage at the start of his routes. He was used at times in the backfield to serve as a lead blocker and he can create red-zone mismatches.

4. Jerrell Adams, 6-5, 247, South Carolina (third-fourth): He operated a lot out of the slot for the Gamecocks, but is a strong in-line blocker. Some believe he may be the best all-around talent at the position based on his athletic ability, size, hands and strength. Some scouts shave him rated as the best blocker of the group.

5. Tyler Higbee, 6-6, 249, Western Kentucky (fourth): He was recently arrested in an assault charge that involved alcohol and him leaving the scene. He contends he was defending his girlfriend’s honor. As a football player, he’s been compared to Kansas City’s Travis Kelce and Miami’s Jordan Cameron. He missed four games last season, but managed 38 catches for 563 yards and eight touchdowns.

6. Henry Krieger Coble, 6-3, 248, Iowa (fifth-sixth): He won the Hawkeyes “Team Hustle, offense” award and played in all 14 games with 10 starts. He ranked second in receptions (35) and third in receiving yards (405), with one touchdown. He’s considered a tenacious in-line blocker, but may need to add some weight.

7. Thomas Duarte, 6-2, 231, UCLA (sixth-seventh): He’s really an over-sized wide receiver. He ran the second-fastest 10-yard split (1.60 seconds) of the tight ends at the combine. He’s considered a flex tight end.

8. Ben Braunecker, 6-4, 250, Harvard (sixth-seventh): He had a vertical jump of  35 ½ inches, which is an indication of outstanding athletic ability. He was used as a blocking tight end out of the backfield (H-back) at times. He caught 48 passes for 850 yards and eight touchdowns in 10 games.

9. Stephen Anderson, 6-2, 230, California (priority free agent): The Falcons scouted him on their trip to campus. Scouts contend that he needs to get bigger and become more physical. He had a 38-inch vertical jump, the best of the tight ends at the combine.

10. Jack McGee, 6-5 ½, 250, Florida (priority free agent): He transferred to Florida as a graduate student after spending three seasons at Virginia. He suffered a broken tibia and fibula in 2014 and received a sixth year of eligibility. Last season, he caught 41 passes for 381 yards and four touchdowns.

 Top 5 seniors for the 2017 draft: 1. O.J. Howard, Alabama. 2. Jake Butt, Michigan. 3. Jordan Leggett, Clemson. 4. Billy Freeman, San Jose State. 5. Evan Engram, Mississippi.

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The AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter gives his top players for the Falcons to draft at #17, talks about the interest in LB Myles Jack & tells CineSport’s Noah Coslov where the team may go in round 2.


Sunday, April 17 -- QUARTERBACKS

Rams quest for franchise quarterback behind big trade --Wentz or Goff?

D. Led’s breakdown of the Quarterbacks

A look at the top 10 Quarterbacks in the draft


D Led’s breakdown of the Running backs -- Is Derrick Henry the next Charles Muncie?

A look at the top 10 Running backs


D. Led’s breakdown of the Wide receivers

A look at the top 10 Wide receivers

Wednesday -- TIGHT ENDS

D. Led’s breakdown of the Tight ends

A look at the top 10 tight ends


D. Led’s breakdown of the Offensive linemen

Offensive linemen chart


D. Led’s breakdown of the Defensive linemen

Defensive linemen chart

Saturday, April 23 -- LINEBACKERS

Falcons searching for hybrid linebacker/safeties

D. Led’s breakdown of the Linebackers

A look at the top 10 linebackers

Sunday, April 24 -- CORNERBACKS

D. Led’s breakdown of the cornerbacks

A look at the top 10 cornerbacks

Monday, April 25 -- SAFETIES

D. Led’s breakdown of the Safeties

A look at the top 10 Safeties

Tuesday, April 26

D. Led’s breakdown of the Specialists, kickers, punters and returners

Position by position: Specialists chart

Wednesday, April 27

Final mock draft

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About the Author

D. Orlando Ledbetter is the Atlanta Falcons beat writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.