2009 NFL Draft - Ranking The Tight Ends

Posted Apr 22, 2009

The 2009 NFL Draft is almost here. From a college football perspective, here's the CFN ranking of the top 25 tight end prospects led by Brandon Pettigrew, Cornelius Ingram and Travis Beckum, along with the most overrated and underrated prospects and the deepest sleeper.

2009 NFL Draft Position Rankings

The Tight Ends

2009 NFL Draft Post-Workout Rankings

| Running Backs | Fullbacks | Receivers | Tight Ends
Centers | Guards | Off. Tackles | Def. Ends | Def. Tackles
Inside LBs | Outside LBs | Cornerbacks | Safeties

By Pete Fiutak

- 2009 NFL Prospect Rankings
Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Wide Receivers
Tight Ends | Off. Tackles
| Off. Guards | Centers
Defensive Ends
| Defensive Tackles | Inside LBs
Outside LBs | Safeties
| Cornerbacks

The Class Is ... interesting, but dangerous. There are warts on all the top prospects and there isn't any sure thing. The problem will be to find the diamonds in the rough, because there will be good value late.

The Best Value Pick Will Be ... Kory Sperry, Colorado State

Most Underrated ... John Phillips, Virginia

Most Overrated …  Cameron Morrah, California

The Deep, Deep Sleeper Is ..
Eddie Williams, Idaho

Rankings of the 2010 Top Prospects
- Possible 1st Rounders
- Possible 2nd Rounders
- Possible 3rd Rounders
- Possible 4th Rounders
- Possible 5th Rounders
- Possible 6th Rounders
- Possible 7th Rounders & Free Agents
- Quarterbacks

- Running Backs
- Wide Receivers
- Tight Ends
- Offensive Tackles 
- Offensive Guards
- Centers
- Defensive Ends
- Defensive Tackles 
- Outside LBs
- Inside LBs
- Safeties
- Cornerbacks
- Punters & Kickers 


1. Brandon Pettigrew, Oklahoma State 6-5, 260
While he looks like a prototype NFL tight end, there are big red flags. He’s huge, a big, willing blocker, and he’s a strong receiver with soft hands and good enough skills to dominate for a passing game. However, he’s slow. Really, really slow. Totally underwhelming at the Combine, he didn’t look anything like a potential Pro Bowl tight end who deserves to be taken in the first round. His route running needs work and while he’ll work hard to be better, he could need a lot of NFL coaching before he’s close to being polished.
CFN Projection: First Round

2. Cornelius Ingram, Florida 6-4, 245
As far as receiving skills, he could be far and away the best tight end prospect in the draft if he can stay healthy. While he timed slow at the Combine, he plays fast and is like a big wide receiver. The torn ACL suffered last year doesn’t appear to be a problem now and he should be a ready-made target who can create some major mismatches. He’s not the best blocker around and he’s a bit lanky, but he could be a fantastic fit for anyone who wants to stretch the field.
CFN Projection: Second Round

3. Jared Cook, South Carolina 6-5, 245 (Jr.)
On pure athleticism, he’s the best all-around tight end in the draft and it’s not even close. He was the eye-opening tight end star at the Combine jumping out of the stadium and blazing off a 4.49 in the 40. However, he hasn’t been able to translate his size, athleticism, and length into a consistent receiver. There were stretches when he dominated, but he disappeared. Put it this way; he was a superior gifted tight end for Steve Spurrier and he was just marginally productive.
CFN Projection: Second Round


4. Travis Beckum, Wisconsin 6-3, 230
Considered a possible high pick prospect had he come out early last year, now there are major durability issues after he couldn’t stay on the field in 2007 with a hamstring problem. Tremendously productive despite being the lone target for a middling Badger passing game, he’s a great receiver who fights to make plays. Tremendously strong in the weight room, he has shown the basic skills to be special. However, he has to prove he can stay healthy, he’ll make too many mistakes, and he’s way too lanky. He’s built like a big wide receiver and he’s not going to get any bigger.
CFN Projection: Third Round

5. Chase Coffman, Missouri 6-5, 250
The ultra-productive star of the Missouri passing game, he was a pass-catching machine from the start of his great career. Extremely tough, he played through an ankle injury and produced even when he was far, far less than 100%. While he won’t block anyone at the next level and he has major durability questions, with his hands and his route running ability he could grow into the focal point of an offense for stretches if he’s left in single coverage.
CFN Projection: Third Round

6. James Casey, Rice 6-4, 235 (3rd year Soph.)
An interesting player, the one-time star baseball prospect for the Chicago White Sox has great athleticism, good smarts, and the maturity. While he’s strong in the weight room, he wasn’t asked to block anyone at Rice and he’s not big enough to be much of a hitter at the next level. Purely a receiver, he’s not fast enough to break away from anyone or be used much as a consistent deep threat. And then there’s the age factor; he’ll be 25 when he starts his career. He’ll be a good, reliable mid-range receiver with a hard ceiling on his potential.
CFN Projection: Third Round

7. Shawn Nelson, Southern Miss 6-5, 240
Very productive and very good for the Southern Miss passing game, Nelson is a pure H-Back at the next level with great receiving skills and nice hands. He’s not bulky and will never be much bigger. While he’s a willing harder and will do what he can to improve, he’s never going to be a bruiser in any way. His money will be made as a field stretching target who might not be a Pro Bowler, but will be in the league for a decade.
CFN Projection: Third Round

8. Richard Quinn, North Carolina  6-4, 260
One of the biggest question marks in the draft, he’s big, very strong, and a good blocker with refined technique; he could be thrown on a team right away and produce for a running game. Can he catch? He’s hardly a finished product and is an unknown because he was almost never used for the UNC passing attack. And then came the workouts and the post-season when he showed good catching skills, or at least good enough to get by. He needs the right offense and he isn’t going to shine if he’s part of a high-octane passing attack. Ask him to be a regular on a team that pounds away, and he could be a solid starter.
CFN Projection: Third Round
9. Anthony Hill, NC State 6-5, 265
With excellent size, great receiving skills, and good upside, he could be a steal if he’s able to stay healthy. That’s a big if. He’s had a variety of problems over the course of his career, including a knee injury, but when he’s right, he has the talent to be as good as any tight end in the draft. At the very least he should be a much cheaper Brandon Pettigrew. He’ll work hard to stay healthy and will do what’s needed to improve, and after good off-season workouts the arrow is pointing up.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round

10. John Phillips, Virginia  6-5, 250
Most of the problems are correctable. He’s a pure football player who’s a willing blocker and a good enough receiver to keep the chains moving, but he needs to spend far more time in the weight room to bulk up another 15 pounds. Not very fast, he’ll end up being used as a short to midrange target in two tight end sets. He’ll never be a star No. 1 target, but he’ll make every key catch and will be as reliable as they come.
CFN Projection: Fifth Round

11. Bear Pascoe, Fresno State 6-5, 260
The former star quarterback recruit rounded out into a tremendous all-around tight end talent. He’s a natural receiver who wants the ball and is good at fighting for it, and with his size he’s a strong blocker. Extremely strong, he could be used in two-tight end sets as a smallish third tackle if needed. The problem is the total lack of speed. He’s a plodder who can run good routes, but won’t do much once he gets the ball. His big catches will come around the goal line and on third and short.
CFN Projection: Fifth Round

12. Cameron Morrah, California 6-3, 245 (Jr.)
More like a big wide receiver than bruising tight end, he’s not going to block anyone and he’s not going to do too much tackle-breaking once he gets the ball in his hands. Making matters worse is his lack of polish as a route runner. However, he’s fast, very athletic, and will blow through a defense to get to the second level in a hurry. He’s a strong prospect, but he needs work.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round


13. David Johnson, Arkansas State 6-2, 275
It all depends on what you want to do with him. Extremely strong and thickly built, he made his biggest mark as a fullback in college. A decent blocker, but not a superior one, he needs to refine his technique to become a regular NFL producer. While he’s not going to be a complete receiver, he has enough speed to get deep from time to time and he could grow into an H-Back role.
CFN Projection: Seventh Round

14. Ryan Purvis, Boston College 6-4, 255
Very reliable and with very good hands, he could be a nice short range target who could be a nice safety valve for a smart quarterback. However, he’s very, very slow and he’s not nearly big enough to be a big-time blocker. He’ll work hard and he’ll be a spot on route runner who won’t make any mistakes, but there’s a very hard ceiling on what he can do. The lack of athleticism will be a problem.
CFN Projection: Sixth Round

15. Dan Gronkowski, Maryland 6-5, 255
If he’s asked to be just a blocker, he’ll be a big producer for a power offense. If he’s asked to be a receiver, forget about it. He’s a good guy who’ll work his tail off to become a better route runner and a receiver, but he’s not a natural pass catcher. Freakishly strong, he could stick by shoving some people around and by doing everything asked of him. He’ll be worth the flier.
CFN Projection: Sixth Round

16. Kory Sperry, Colorado State 6-4, 240
Extremely athletic and a field-stretcher of a receiver, he’s one of the quickest tight ends in the draft. He’s not going to be much as a blocker and he’s way too small, but the former high school quarterback is a smart route runner and he can be used in almost any passing offense. An ideal H-Back, he’ll be too quick for many linebackers and could grow into a major playmaker if he’s not asked to be physcial.
CFN Projection: Sixth Round

17. Jamarko Simmons, Western Michigan 6-2, 245
A huge wide receiver in college, he’ll be tried out as a wideout but will be better as an H-Back. Ultra-competitive, sometimes to a fault, he was a big-time producer against the big names and MAC dregs alike. Strong when going after the ball, he’s not going to get pushed around. Not tall, not all that fast, and a true tweener, someone will have to carve out a role for him and he’ll have to show the maturity to handle the work.
CFN Projection: Sixth Round

18. Branden Ledbetter, Western Michigan 6-5, 230
A pure receiver, he’s way too small and he’s not going to be able to last if he’s supposed to pound away for a running game. He’s a willing blocker and he isn’t afraid to mix it up. He’ll go across the middle and will fight to go after the ball, but he’s just not strong enough to be physical at an NFL level. If he’s not instantly making things happen for a passing game in practices, he’ll be cut right away.
CFN Projection: Sixth Round

19. Jared Bronson, Central Washington 6-3, 250
Originally a Washington Husky, he’s a good athlete and a nice receiver with decent upside for a passing game. While he’s not a blazer, he’s a quick route runner with the potential to get better. Not all that strong, and already 24 years old, he’s not going to get too much bigger or any more physical. If he doesn’t shine early on as a receiver, forget about it.
CFN Projection: Free Agent

20.  Brian Mandeville, Northeastern 6-6, 250
It’s all about his heart, and not in the has-to-try-hard sort of way. He’s a good receiver who showed he could stay with the big boys in the post-season workouts, but a problem with his heart was detected at the Combine and he might not be able to play. On talent, he’s not strong enough to be a blocker and he needs work as a route runner, but he has upside. However, the medical problem might make him undraftable.
CFN Projection: Free Agent


21. Eddie Williams, Idaho 6-1, 240
Rob Myers, Utah State 6-3, 240  
23. Nick Walker, Alabama 6-2, 221
24. Darius Hill, Ball State 6-6, 240
35. Mark Hafner, Houston 6-2, 220