When examining the tight end position I noticed it has the largest disparity in average draft position than any other position. The No. 1 drafted tight end (Rob Gronkowski) is being drafted 23rd overall while No. 2 is going 15 spots later and No. 3 10 spots after that. With entire rounds separating the top players, tight end is a position on which you want to guess right. If I am passing on my WR1 or my RB1 draft a tight end, I better hit. With that being said, on to my “Three down tight ends” which happen to be the superstar tight ends:
THREE DOWN TIGHT ENDS
Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots, and Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins: Both Gronkowski and Reed have major injury concerns. Now the person who does have the guts to trust these two and gets a full season out of them will have a huge advantage. I love a good risk and I will take a gamble when it makes sense. For me it just doesn’t make sense to pass on say Leonard Fournette or Tom Brady (going just before and just after Gronkowski) to take Gronkowski. The risk just doesn’t equal the reward and the same holds true for Reed who has Terrelle Pryor and Sammy Watkins going before and after him.
Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs: Kelce who is going third among tight ends is a little more reasonable than the other two but again I will wait and get a player just as good two rounds later. I don’t trust any receiver who has noodle arm Alex Smith throwing him the ball. Again, like I have said in all my articles, it is all about value and I just don’t see the value in taking a tight end before I draft both my running backs, wide receivers and my quarterback.
THREE UP TIGHT ENDS
Martellus Bennett, Green Bay Packers: Speaking of value, Bennett is going 99th on average in standard drafts. That means he is going around Round 8 or 9 and he is going as the eighth tight end off the board. This is huge value for a guy as talented as Bennett, who plays in a high-powered offense, and has Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball. If I can get 75 percent of the Top 3 tight ends at worst but wait five total rounds and fill out the rest of my team first, that is the definition of a value play. With the health history of the Top 2 you may be getting only 75 percent of their production anyway because they are both bound to miss games with injuries.
Evan Engram, New York Giants: If you choose to ignore the tight end position all together and go with a deep sleeper, I wouldn’t blame you in the least. Engram is the guy I would be targeting this late. The Giants are loaded with talent at the receiver position. Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall are going to pull the coverage deep and Sterling Shepard will take even more attention away from Engram. No linebacker will be able to cover him for long and you just can’t spare the safety with that wide receiver group. If he masters the offense and earns Eli Manning’s trust he is going to be a monster this year.
David Njoku, Cleveland Browns: Again if you are waiting this long for a tight end, the rest of your team is strong and you are really rolling the dice on a sleeper. I like Njoku for the exact opposite reasons of Engram. Cleveland is going to playing from behind all season long and will need to throw the ball early and often just to stay competitive. Given the fact that Cleveland doesn’t have the most experienced and talented group of passers in the league, the team will be checking down an awful lot. This all equates to a ton of targets for Njoku. We know the team believes in in him because it cut Gary Barnidge right after the draft. This will all come down to how quickly Njoku can learn the offense and the speed of the NFL game.
I think my opinion on how to treat the tight end position is very clear. Let someone else reach for the top guys and take the hit at running back and wide receiver. You will reap the benefits by getting close to the same production later and have the stronger team everywhere else.