• Georgia’s Brock Bowers: The junior could go down as one of the best tight end prospects in the PFF College era.
• Texas’ Ja’Tavion Sanders: The former five-star recruit has the tools to join Bowers in the first round.
• Syracuse’s Oronde Gadsden II: The junior blurs the line between tight end and wide receiver, but his best role is as a bigger slot at the next level.
Estimated Reading Time: 5 mins
The 2023 NFL Draft featured only one first-round tight end, Dalton Kincaid. It was the fourth straight class in which there weren’t multiple tight ends drafted on Day 1.
Early indications suggest that could change for 2024, as two tight ends went in the top 20 of my way-too-early mock draft.
Here are 10 tight end prospects to know as we head into summer scouting, kicking things off with one who could challenge Kyle Pitts as the position's best prospect of the PFF College era.
Brock Bowers, Georgia
Despite being on the smaller side at 230 pounds, Bowers has been a superstar since stepping onto Georgia’s campus. As a true freshman in 2021, he was the highest-graded Power Five tight end and the most valuable player at the position in college football, according to PFF’s wins above average metric. He was once again the most valuable tight end in the nation this past season and led the position in receiving yards (942), yards after the catch (479) and receiving yards after contact (274). Bowers’ 73.8 run-blocking grade in 2022 also ranked seventh among Power Five tight ends. He’s on track to go down as one of the best tight end prospects in history.
Brock Bowers has a very good chance at surpassing Kyle Pitts as a prospect.
Was the best tight end in the country as a true freshman and looks the same as a sophomore.
In a generational TE room at Georgia, he’s clearly the generational talent.pic.twitter.com/Fq1pnLIDrw
— Max Chadwick (@Chad_Maxwick) September 18, 2022
Ja'Tavion Sanders, Texas
Sanders joined Texas with a ton of hype as a top-15 recruit in the 2021 class.
He began to live up to that billing in his sophomore season, accounting for 32 combined first downs and touchdowns in 2022, which trailed only Dalton Kincaid, Michael Mayer and Brock Bowers among FBS tight ends. His 613 receiving yards also trailed only Bowers among returning Power Five tight ends. He’s a freak athlete at 6-foot-4 and 242 pounds, and he is the early favorite to be TE2 in the 2024 NFL Draft, behind Bowers.
Meet my #1 ranked tight end in the BIG 12 for 2023 and top 5 nationally, Ja’Tavion Sanders of the Texas Longhorns.
54 receptions | 613 receiving yards | 5 receiving touchdowns | Averaged 11.4 YPC.@Jatavionsanders pic.twitter.com/qhsJzX4o69
— CFBLIVE247 (@CFBLive247_) January 24, 2023
Oronde Gadsden II, Syracuse
Gadsden is more a wide receiver than a tight end at 6-foot-5 and 216 pounds. In fact, he lined up out wide on significantly more snaps (181) than he did in line in 2022. He’ll likely be a bigger slot receiver at the next level, having thrived in that role for Syracuse. He tied for eighth among Power Five pass catchers with 28 catches of 15-plus yards last season.
CUSE WINS, CUSE WINS, CUSE WINS ????
With just seven seconds left in the game, Garrett Shrader throws a laser to Oronde Gadsden II.
Down to the wire, that one was ????
????: @espn pic.twitter.com/og3w5CRpe6
— The Sporting News (@sportingnews) September 17, 2022
Brevyn Spann-Ford, Minnesota
Spann-Ford is arguably the most well-rounded tight end returning to college football.
The redshirt senior’s 82.5 run-blocking grade in 2022 ranked second among FBS tight ends, while his 82.1 receiving grade placed eighth. His 2.22 yards per route run also stood fourth among all tight ends. He’s essentially an extra offensive lineman at 6-foot-7 and 270 pounds but must be respected as a receiver, as well.
Brevyn Spann-Ford is 270 pounds and doing this ???? pic.twitter.com/WY3Rm2RJVj
— Joe Broback (@joebroback) October 23, 2022
Jaheim Bell, Florida State
Bell was criminally underutilized by South Carolina in 2022. The junior saw only 28 targets this past season, ranking 91st at the position. He even played some running back for the Gamecocks, as his 257 rushing yards led all tight ends in the country.
He runs like a running back, too. In 2021, his 354 yards after the catch trailed only Brock Bowers among Power Five tight ends. He also led the position with 3.67 yards per route run. Even that year, his 41 targets still ranked 42nd at the position.
Jaheim Bell WILL NOT BE DENIED! ????@GamecockFB pic.twitter.com/5Edscb76x4
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) October 16, 2021
Bryson Nesbit, North Carolina
Nesbit is more of a downfield threat than most tight ends. His 11.8-yard average depth of target ranked sixth highest among Power Five tight ends, and that helped him average the fifth-most yards per route run in the country (2.21). He was the only tight end in the top 15 in yards per route run with a double-digit average depth of target. With Josh Downs and Antoine Green in the NFL, Nesbit could put up even bigger numbers as Drake Maye’s top target in 2023.
Drake Maye throws a DART to Nesbit and this game is TIED ????????@UNCFootball pic.twitter.com/GzvzExQgJ9
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) December 29, 2022
Benjamin Yurosek, Stanford
Like Jaheim Bell, Yurosek had a relatively disappointing 2022 season after breaking out in 2021.
The junior’s 65.3 receiving grade this past season was nearly 15 points lower than his prior mark. Still, his 1,099 receiving yards and 596 yards after the catch over the past two seasons trail only Brock Bowers among returning Power Five tight ends. He adds little as a run blocker, but Yurosek is worth keeping an eye on for his receiving ability.
???? @StanfordFball takes one back!
Yurosek takes it 49 yards to the ???? pic.twitter.com/4qNxh5pN8f
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) November 28, 2021
Cade Stover, Ohio State
Unlike Yurosek, Stover has no such issues as a run blocker. He made five big-time blocks this past season (PFF’s highest-graded blocks), which tied for fourth among Power Five tight ends.
Working against Stover as a receiver is the fact that he plays with Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka, the two best returning wide receivers in college football. He still impressed as a pass catcher, though, as his 110 receiving yards after contact ranked 11th among Power Five tight ends.
Cade Stover would not be denied ????
(via @CFBONFOX) pic.twitter.com/jb7B2Y10tH
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) October 29, 2022
Jalin Conyers, Arizona State
Conyers was a monster after the catch this past season, forcing 21 missed tackles — which led all tight ends in the country — and ranking fourth among FBS tight ends in receiving yards after contact (170).
Not giving in.@ASUFootball's Jalin Conyers gets the Sun Devils on the board.
????: Pac-12 Network
????: https://t.co/vWglww6POD #ForksUp | #Pac12FB pic.twitter.com/15Krz25Msp
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) November 12, 2022
Brant Kuithe, Utah
Kuithe played just four games in 2022 before suffering a season-ending knee injury, but he’s been one of the nation’s most productive tight ends over the past few seasons.
In 2019, he was a PFF third-team All-American. His 832 yards after the catch since then are the fifth most among all tight ends in college football. Perhaps even more impressive, it was Kuithe, not 2023 first-rounder Dalton Kincaid, who finished as Utah’s top tight end in both 2021 and 2020. If he can stay healthy, Kuithe should reestablish himself as a top tight end both in college football and in the NFL draft.
Brant Kuithe is LOOSE!!!! pic.twitter.com/HXkMUGsQLw
— Jake Schyvinck (@JakeNFLDraft) November 21, 2021