With the Senior Bowl in the books, here’s an early look at my tight end draft big board for the Chicago Bears:
#1 Zach Ertz, Stanford – Ertz gets the edge over Eifert as the number one TE prospect in my early draft big board for the position. While the two are similar athletically, what separates Ertz from Eifert is his understanding of route concepts and blocking ability in both the pass and run department.
#2 Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame – Eifert’s catching radius pops out at you when you watch him play. He still has plenty of room to grow as far as route running and blocking, but he has the most potential of any TE in this class.
#3 Gavin Escobar, San Diego State – Cut from the same cloth of Ertz and Eifert, Escobar is a big time athlete at the TE position. He displays soft hands and is fearless catching the ball over the middle. He’s a downfield threat and can high-point the football. He still needs to develop as a blocker, but as a pure pass catcher he’s one of the best in the class.
#4 Jordan Reed, Florida – Reed looks to follow in the same footsteps as Aaron Hernandez, as the next great TE to come out of Florida. Both guys are similar athletes at the position, capable of making big plays all over the field. Reed is a raw at the position but has a lot of potential.
#5 Joseph Fauria UCLA – Built similarly to Kellen Davis, but that is where the comparisons stop. Fauria has decent hands and can develop into a consistent red zone target at the next level. He’s also a good route runner for his size and can get down field and make a big play.
#6 Ryan Otten, San Jose – Not a great athlete at the position, but Otten gets the job done as both a pass catcher and blocker. Otten compares favorably to Seattle Seahawks’ TE Zach Miller.
#7 Chris Gragg Arkansas – Gragg has the versatility to play the F-Back role and line up as a classic Y TE. He’s an explosive athlete and can hurt defenses with his speed. He’s underrated physically.
#8 Levine Toilolo Stanford – Toilolo is an accomplished blocker, but he’s also underrated by many as a pass catcher. He’s not a starting caliber TE but can be effective as the team’s No. 2.
#9 Travis Kelce Cincinnati – Kelce is a stiff athlete at the position, but he has the soft hands to be a consistent target for QBs in the middle of the field.
#10 Michael Williams Alabama – Williams is mainly a blocking TE, but he flashed some receiver ability at the Senior Bowl. Like Toilolo, Williams could fit in as team’s second TE.
Safe Choice: Zach Ertz
What makes Ertz a safe choice for the Bears is that he’s mentally more pro ready than any other TE in this class. For the last two years, Ertz has played in a west coast offense at Stanford. Under new Head Coach Marc Trestman, who figures to run a WCO, it shouldn’t be much of a difficult transition.
He’s a complete player who has the potential to be an elite level TE at the pro level. If the Bears use the 2oth pick in the Draft on Ertz, it would give the team a legit play-maker for Jay Cutler to target over the middle of the field.
High Risk/High Reward: Jordan Reed
Reed is still raw at the TE position after being a former QB. However, he is just as athletic as his top three rivals Ertz’s, Eifert and Escobar. Reed is 6-3, 240, but he plays much bigger than his listed size. He’s an extremely athletic TE with soft hands and speed to hurt LBs and safeties downfield. He also has shown the ability to go up and get the football on tough throws.
The glaring concerns with Reed are his size and lack of experience playing the position. He has the frame to put on more bulk, and although he’s still learning the position, Reed most of the time looked like a natural at the position. If Phil Emery takes a chance on Reed, it will show that he has full confidence in new TEs coach Andy Bischoff and strength and conditioning coach Mike Clark to help Reed reach his full potential.