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Draft position breakdown: Tight ends


ARM LENGTH:33 3/4 inches- HAND SIZE:10 inches
40: 4.51 secondsBENCH PRESS:22 reps
SHORT SHUTTLE:4.16 seconds- THREE-CONE DRILL:6.85 seconds

Of the tight ends in this year's class, Howard is the most ready to step in from Day 1 on every down. He is the complete package who can handle in-line work as a blocker with the flexibility to line up outside and use his size to make catches despite blanket coverage from defensive backs.

During Senior Bowl week, Howard was the best player on the field, easily executing a variety of routes with smooth changes of direction and outstanding adjustment to the ball in flight. The only issue for Howard is in concentration, which leads to the occasional drop, but he recovers well, ensuring that his flubs are isolated incidents.


ARM LENGTH:35 1/4 inches- HAND SIZE:10 inches
40: 4.65 secondsBENCH PRESS:21 reps
SHORT SHUTTLE:4.34 seconds- THREE-CONE DRILL:6.97 seconds

No tight end in college football was better down the stretch of the 2016 season than Njoku, who hit his stride with seven touchdowns in his final six games for the Hurricanes, including a 76-yard catch-and-run against Duke to conclude the regular season.

Njoku can stretch the field like a wide receiver; his average of 16.6 yards per catch at Miami was the highest among draftable tight ends.

His blocking needs refinement, and he will likely always be a better receiver than a blocker. Weight-room work and coaching should help him improve there. But as a receiving target, he would represent an immediate upgrade for at least half of the league.


ARM LENGTH:33 1/2 inches- HAND SIZE:10 inches
40: 4.42 secondsBENCH PRESS:19 reps
SHORT SHUTTLE:4.23 seconds- THREE-CONE DRILL:6.92 seconds

Engram turned in his best work against the best competition on Mississippi's schedule last year. His two biggest games came against Alabama (nine catches, 138 yards) and Florida State (nine receptions, 121 yards), highlighting a season in which he averaged 84.2 yards per game and scored once every eight receptions.

His route-running is as impressive as his timed speed, making him a matchup nightmare for opposing linebackers -- and even some cornerbacks. A unique athlete, Engram will have a speed and quickness advantage over players who are 20 to 30 pounds lighter.

At 234 pounds, Engram was the lightest tight end at the Combine, some 18 pounds below the average for the position. That size ensures that some teams may see him as a wide receiver more than a tight end. But despite his size, Engram is a willing blocker, and will provide enough of an obstruction when working from an in-line alignment to justify every-down use.


ARM LENGTH:33 1/2 inches- HAND SIZE:9 5/8 inches
40: 4.79 secondsBENCH PRESS:24 reps
SHORT SHUTTLE:4.38 seconds- THREE-CONE DRILL:7.09 seconds

Shaheen's amazing fluidity for a player of his size drew the attention of scouts the last two years. His fast-rising stock compelled him to turn pro with one year of eligibility remaining; his Combine performance then ensured it would be a wise choice.

A high-school basketball standout who earned a scholarship to Pittsburgh-Johnstown, Shaheen eventually returned to football and used the athleticism he developed on the hardwood to his advantage. He added 75 pounds to his frame in college, but kept his agility.

Shaheen's blocking could use some refinement. In Division II, he was able to rely on size and overpowering athleticism to easily handle defenders. In the NFL, he will have to improve at establishing his base and using proper hand placement. His willingness to learn and his size ensure that it should only be a matter of time before he gets the hang of it.


ARM LENGTH:32 1/2 inches- HAND SIZE:10 1/8 inches
40: 4.57 secondsBENCH PRESS:18 reps
SHORT SHUTTLE:4.29 seconds- THREE-CONE DRILL:7.05 seconds

Hodges is perhaps the most unique athlete in this draft. At 257 pounds, he has the size to hold his ground on the inside, and could potentially add another 10 pounds to his frame. His straight-line speed represents what you would expect from a player 20 to 30 pounds lighter.

Virginia Tech converted Hodges from quarterback to tight end during his redshirt 2013 season and capitalized on Hodges' knowledge of the offense by moving him all around. He lined up inside, outside, in the slot and in the backfield, and was an effective receiving target from wherever he began the play.

Hodges' route-running needs work; his cuts aren't always as precise as they could be, which prevents from getting separation. He didn't need to rely on his routes in college, since he could win one-on-one matchups in tight coverage.


  1. Jake Butt, Michigan
    1. Gerald Everett, South Alabama
    2. Jordan Leggett, Clemson
    3. Michael Roberts, Toledo
    4. Jonnu Smith, Florida International
    5. Jeremy Sprinkle, Arkansas
    6. Eric Saubert, Drake
    7. Cole Hikutuni, Louisville
    8. George Kittle, Iowa
    9. Scott Ornrdoff, Pittsburgh

Virgil Green leads the group as he heads into the final year of his contract. A capable blocker who provides steady play, he is the known commodity of the group. Questions loom beyond him.

Jeff Heuerman and A.J. Derby each head into their third pro season -- typically the fork-in-the-road juncture for young players. Heuerman's progress starts with staying healthy after two campaigns marred by ACL and hamstring injuries. Derby, a converted college quarterback, showed promise as a receiving target, but must grow as a blocker.

Late last year, the Broncos promoted then-rookie Henry Krieger-Coble from the practice squad. A talented target, the Iowa product hopes to build on the foundation established during a strong training camp. He is the wild card of the position group.


The Broncos selected just nine tight ends in their previous 25 drafts, but that rate has increased in the last decade-plus. Five of the nine tight ends selected came in the last 11 drafts, including four in the last eight.

2009:Richard Quinn, North Carolina - Round 2, No. 64 overall
2011:Julius Thomas, Portland State - Round 4, No. 129 overall; Virgil Green, Nevada - Round 7, No. 204 overall
2015:Jeff Heuerman, Ohio State - Round 3, No. 92 overall

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