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2008 NFL Draft - Ranking The Tight Ends
Missouri TE Martin Rucker
Missouri TE Martin Rucker
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Apr 12, 2008


CFN ranks the top 25 prospects with the deep sleeper and most overrated and underrated players.

2008 NFL Draft Position Rankings
The Tight Ends

Rankings & Breakdowns
Top 50 Players - 1 to 25 |
Top 50 Players - 26 to 50 | Quarterbacks
Running Backs |
Wide Receivers | Tight Ends | Offensive Tackles  
Offensive Guards |
Centers | Defensive Ends | Defensive Tackles    
Linebackers |
Safeties | Cornerbacks | Punters & Kickers

By Pete Fiutak

The Class Is ... Average. There are plenty of potential starters but no one who'll be a centerpiece of a passing attack. However, it's a deep group with the mid-level prospects every bit as promising as the top guys.

The Best Value Pick Will Be ... Martellus Bennett, Texas A&M

Most Underrated ... Joey Haynos, Maryland

Most Overrated ... Jermichael Finley, Texas

The Deep, Deep Sleeper Is ..
Andrew Atchison, William & Mary

POTENTIAL NFL STARTERS

1. Dustin Keller, TE Purdue
Considered around the third or fourth best tight end prospect after the season, Keller blew everyone away at the Combine running a 4.57 and proving to be the most athletic of the bunch. While he's not going to block anyone and he doesn't have prototypical size, coming in at 6-2 and around 245 pounds, he has the potential to be a dangerous receiver with the potential to grow into a plus for r the ground game.
CFN Projection: Second Round

2. Fred Davis, TE USC
While he timed well, he has been underwhelming in post-season workouts and hasn't stood out like many assumed he would considering he was the Mackey Award winner. For all intents and purposes he was the USC passing game last season with a great 63-catch, eight touchdown season and he can be plugged right in and can roll from day one. He's not huge and he's not going to dominate anyone with his blocking skills, but he's a big receiver who could blow up in the right system.
CFN Projection: Second Round

3. Martellus Bennett, TE Texas A&M
A big, imposing target, even if he's a big thin on a 6-6 frame, Bennett looks like an NFL tight end. Athletic with the moves of a big receiver, he's smooth and strong when the ball comes his way. He's not all that fast and he needs to prove he can produce at a high level after being underutilized at A&M, but the former basketball player could be another Antonio Gates if he reaches his potential.
CFN Projection: Late Second Round

4. John Carlson, TE Notre Dame
A mega-flop in off-season workouts after being considered by many to be the top tight end prospect after the season ended, he made up for a disastrous Combine with a decent pro day work out to get back in the overall picture. Even so, he still timed relatively slow and he's just not strong enough to be a dominant blocker. On the plus side, he's big, smart, and can catch the ball easily. After slipping in everyone's rankings, he should bounce back to become a steady starters.

CFN Projection: Late Second Round


5. Martin Rucker, TE Missouri
The ultra-productive Tiger star was used in a variety of ways including on fake special teams plays and occasionally as a runner; he's that kind of an athlete in a 6-5, 251-pound body. He hasn't had to be a consistent blocker and he'll drop a ball or two, but he has the experience to grow into an H-back role and become a go-to target.

CFN Projection: Third Round


6. Craig Stevens, TE California
One of the high-risers on everyone's board after running better than expected in workouts, Stevens is one of the better blockers among the top tight end prospects and is one of the safest bets. However, he doesn't have a world of upside like a Martellus Bennett or a Dustin Keller and he's not going to be a dominant receiver. He'll be a good one, but his worth is as an all-around player.

CFN Projection: Third Round


7. Brad Cottam, TE Tennessee
At 6-7 and 270 pounds with not-that-bad speed, he has the size and the skills to get offensive coordinators excited about matchup possibilities. A bit of an afterthought after suffering a broken wrist last season, he emerged as an "it" prospect after a good Senior Bowl and excellent Combine. He's still a bit of a project, but receivers his size are rare.

CFN Projection: Third Round


8. Kellen Davis, TE Michigan State
The prototype. At 6-6 and 262 pounds with 4.6 speed, he has the size/speed/athletic ratio that screams Pro Bowl tight end. The problem is his blocking; he doesn't do it. While he had a nice senior season, he was a stunning disappointment for the first three years of his Spartan career and didn't blow up like he should have. If the proper fire is lit, he could be the best tight end in the draft. That's a huge if.

CFN Projection: Late Third Round To Early Fourth


9. Jermichael Finley, TE Texas
One of the biggest workout disappointments in the entire 2008 class, not just among the tight ends, everyone was waiting to see the sophomore who had been described at times as an athletic freak at Texas. He ran a pedestrian 4.62 after starting out the Combine with some miserable times, and while he certainly isn't slow, the 6-4, 240-pounder is considered a receiver and not a tight end. He has good hands and receiving skills and he could be a dangerous playmaker as his career goes on, but he needs polish and will be shoved around a bit.

CFN Projection: Third Round


10. Tom Santi, TE Virginia
He's not Heath Miller, another Virginia product, but he's a good athlete who produced for four years and had a nice senior season despite playing in a non-passing offense. He's not afraid to go over the middle and will keep the chains moving. Fast enough, he will find ways to get open. While he's not a special talent, there's no downside and he could serve as a serviceable ten-year pro who goes to work, gets the job done, and flies under the radar.

CFN Projection: Fifth Round


11. Jacob Tamme, TE Kentucky
A pure receiver who was great in his senior season as one of Andre Woodson's top targets, Tamme is a nice athlete with the potential to be a good H-back. If he gets the right quarterback, he could quickly become a go-to receiver on third downs. He's not big and he'll never get much larger than 240 pounds; forget about the blocking.

CFN Projection: Fifth Round


BEST OF THE REST

12. Gary Barnridge, TE Louisville
After a good three years, Barnridge emerged as Brian Brohm's main man as a senior with a tremendous 53-catch season with seven touchdowns. He really helped himself by timing far better than expected, and while he's not a natural route runner, he could fit in well as a second tight end who moves the chains. Not that big on a 6-5 frame, there's a ceiling on what he can do.

CFN Projection: Fifth Round


13. Joey Haynos, TE Maryland
He has no speed, isn't a consistent blocker, and isn't a natural receiver, but he works his tail off and at close to 6-8 and 260 pounds he's a big, strong target who could fit in well in two tight end sets. He might not set the world on fire right away, but he should be able to carve out a long career if he can grow into a more physical blocker.

CFN Projection: Seventh Round


14. Derek Fine, TE Kansas
While he's not all that big, he's one of the better blocking tight ends in the draft and is a decent receiver. Tough as nails and not afraid to get dirty, he stands out in a class full of mostly receiving TEs. However, he's only 6-2 and 250 pounds and he isn't all that fast. He'll have to make a name for himself on special teams to stick.

CFN Projection: Seventh Round


15. Joe Jon Finley, TE Oklahoma
Very tall with a world of upside as a receiver, Finley is a great blocker who's able to use his 6-6, 251-pound frame to push people around. He's a nice possession receiver but is hardly a gamebreaker, and was a disappointment in the 40 running a sluggish 4.87. He'll never be a top tight end, but he'll hang around for a while as a No. 2

CFN Projection: Sixth Round


16. Andrew Atchison, TE William & Mary
The possibilities are there for Atchison to emerge as a quality B-back. He doesn't do anyone thing phenomenally well, but he does everything good enough to not have a glaring weakness. The big issue will be his 6-5, 245-pound size; he's just not bulky enough to be able to consistently handle the rigors of NFL blocking.

CFN Projection: Sixth Round To Seventh Round


17. Jonathan Stupar, TE Virginia
It's a miracle he's still alive much less playing football after having issues with his heart. A marginal athlete who gets the most out of his skills, he's a decent receiver with nice hands and is a willing blocker. He just doesn't have the talent to be an NFL starter.

CFN Projection: Seventh Round


18. Kolo Kapanui, TE West Texas A&M
After starting out his career at USC, and transferring after having academic problems, he turned into a good target at the lower level. Slow, not great athletically, and dogged by a myriad of injuries, he'll have problems making a team. However, he's huge, powerful, and can catch. At 6-4 and 275 pounds with good hands, he's an interesting prospect.

CFN Projection: Seventh Round


19. Darrell Strong, TE Pitt
Does he actually want to be an NFL player? He has the size, the strength and the athleticism to be able to play at the next level, but he was a big-time underachiever at Pitt and might not have the speed to be a dangerous pro receiver. 

CFN Projection: Free Agent


20. Marcus Stone, TE NC State
After coming to NC State as a big-time quarterback prospect, he switched positions after having major problems with his accuracy and production. While he's not that big and doesn't have any speed, he's a natural receiver and will do whatever he has to in any situation. He might not have the talent, but the want-to will be there.
CFN Projection: Free Agent


ON THE RADAR

21. Jed Collins, TE Washington State
22. Chris Brown, TE Tennessee
23. Adam Bishop, TE Nevada
24. Eric Butler, TE Mississippi State
25. Mike Peterson, TE NW Missouri State