News & Analysis

Ranking the top-five draft-eligible tight ends in yards per route run

By Austin Gayle
Mar 29, 2019

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Finding the next best receiving tight end in the 2019 NFL Draft starts with analyzing the most efficient at the position. Here’s a list of the top-five draft-eligible FBS tight ends in yards per route run in 2018.

[Editor’s Note: To view more of Pro Football Focus’ advanced stats and grades for draft-eligible players, check out our 2019 NFL Draft Guide. All EDGE and ELITE subscribers already have access to the guide, and for those who don’t, you can get your copy for as low as $9.99!]

T-1. Irv Smith Jr., Alabama (2.56)

‘Bama tight end Irv Smith Jr. enters the 2019 NFL Draft coming off a remarkable 2018 campaign, as he averaged a whopping 2.56 yards per route run across his 276 routes run. The 20-year-old prospect also totaled 360 yards after the catch, 177 yards after contact, and 16 receptions of 15-plus yards.

T-1. Caleb Wilson, UCLA (2.56)

Caleb Wilson left UCLA a year early and still is a bit raw as a result, but his ceiling is extremely high in the NFL. The 6-foot-4, 240-pounder finished the 2018 season tied for first with Smith in yards per route run (2.56). Wilson also ranked second among draft-eligible FBS tight ends in total receptions of 15-plus yards with 24.

3. T.J. Hockenson, Iowa (2.21)

Iowa is sending two stellar tight ends into the NFL this offseason, and the first of which to appear on this list is T.J. Hockenson. In addition to his blocking chops, the 6-foot-5, 251-pound Hockenson excelled in the passing game, catching 49-of-64 targets for 744 yards and six touchdowns across his 337 routes run. He ranked third among qualifiers in the class in yards per route run at 2.21.

T-4. Noah Fant, Iowa (2.15)

Noah Fant, Hockenson’s partner in crime at Iowa, blew the doors off the Combine a few weeks back, by running a blazing 4.50s 40-yard dash and by posting 4.22s and 6.81s times in the short shuttle and three-cone, respectively. Fant’s elite athleticism helped him to an impressive 2.15 yards per route run in 2018.

T-4. Keenen Brown, Texas State (2.15)

A former four-star receiver committed to Oklahoma State turned Texas State tight end, Keenen Brown lit the Sun Belt Conference on fire with his yards after the catch ability. He finished the 2018 season ranked fifth in the class in yards after the catch per reception and tied for fourth in yards per route run (2.15).

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