Receiving tight ends have been taking the NFL by storm in recent years, and players with the ability of Jimmy Graham are being sought after by nearly every franchise. While not all three of the top-ranked draft-eligible tight ends have the ceiling of Graham, all three are in for bright NFL futures.
Eric Ebron started the college football season as the top-ranked tight end because of his insane athletic ability. While some have dropped him behind the quickly-rising Jace Amaro, I still see Ebron, who has the best speed of any tight end in this class, as the best available pass catcher. The junior out of North Carolina uses his 6-foot-4 245-pound frame well when in the end zone, and could be a real red zone threat upon entering the league.
Aside from the few head-scratching drops, Ebron can make almost any catch, something that Texas Tech junior Amaro has thoroughly proved this season. In just his first season as a focal point of the Red Raiders offense, Amaro leads the team in both receptions (98) and receiving yards (1,240).
When it comes to who has the better hands, Amaro clearly leads the class, but the best playmaker is still the more athletic Ebron. The third-ranked tight end is another junior, but of the three could make the most immediate impact in the NFL given he’s already viewed as a three-down player. This would be Washington Huskies junior Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who is a third-year starter and plays in a pro-style offense.
Where Seferia-Jenkins outshines the other two is in his blocking and experience on the offensive line. Ebron and Amaro lineup almost exclusively out in the flat where they are asked to primarily block cornerbacks and the occasional linebacker. Seferian-Jenkins, on the other hand, is on the line almost every snap, and has experience being a blocker for a run-heavy offense.
Because Seferian-Jenkins has seen a reduced role in the passing attack for the Huskies this season, he is the third-ranked tight end, and likely won’t hear his name called until the second round. Amaro and Ebron are both being talked about as likely first-round picks for teams looking to make an immediate upgrade on offense.
One of the teams who is in dire need of a tight end and should consider taking either Amaro or Ebron with their first pick is the Green Bay Packers, a team that saw a nasty neck injury end Jermichael Finley’s season and possibly career. Ebron is very similar to Finley as both are big-bodied and extremely athletic with the ability to make plays after the catch, making him the popular mock draft pick for the green and gold Packers.
While it’s nearly a lock to see one of these three tight ends drafted in the first round, all three will be making an impact in the NFL very soon. The way I see it, Ebron is still head and shoulders the best selection given his tremendous upside, but Amaro’s sure hands and Seferian-Jenkins’ all-around game will make both of them highly-sought players when the draft is finally underway.