What makes this year's collection of tight ends the best in decades is the depth. Starting-quality tight ends will be available deep into the second and third days of the draft.
Here are five tight ends who won't go in the first round but have the potential to stack up well against first-rounders like Alabama's O.J. Howard and David Njoku of Miami (Fla.).
HEIGHT:6-5* WEIGHT: *246
ARM LENGTH: *2 inches - HND SIZE: **1 inches
It is unusual to refer to a player like Butt as a "sleeper," but given the depth of this year's crop of tight ends, Butt could get lost in the shuffle after he suffered a torn ACL in the Orange Bowl last December.
Butt's recovery means that his rookie season will be marked with an asterisk. He is unlikely to be full speed by training camp. Given the nature of ACL recoveries, a true measure of Butt as a pro will not likely be available until 2018.
His work in Michigan's scheme should assure a smooth transition to the NFL; he can line up inside and outside and is a capable blocker on the edge. While other tight ends are better at specific skills, Butt could be right behind Howard as an all-around, every-down tight end.
HEIGHT: 6-3 - WEIGHT: 239
*ARM LENGTH: *33 inches - HAND SIZE: 8 1/2 inches
*40: 460 seconds* - BENCH PRESS: 22 reps
*SHORT SHUTTLE: *4.33 seconds - THREE-CONE DRILL: **6.99 seconds
A productive player who sells his fakes well to create separation, Everett earned notice at the Senior Bowl, where he was the No. 3 tight end on a stacked South team roster along with Alabama's O.J. Howard and Mississippi's Evan Engram. Everett stacked up well in comparison with those SEC prospects, and secured likely Day 2 status.
Everett caught 91 passes for 1,292 yards and 12 touchdowns during his last two seasons at South Alabama, which was the final stop in a college career that saw him begin at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas before going to UAB, which he left when the school temporarily dropped football.
The only major concern about Everett is his small hands for the position; at 8 1/2 inches, they are the smallest of any tight end in this year's class, and could lead to some drops.
HEIGHT: 6-4 - WEIGHT: 270
*ARM LENGTH: *33 inches - HAND SIZE: 11 1/2 inches
*40: 486 seconds* - BENCH PRESS: 21 reps
*SHORT SHUTTLE: *4.51 seconds - THREE-CONE DRILL: **7.05 seconds
No player at any position at this year's Scouting Combine had bigger hands than Roberts, whose 11 1/2-inch mitts are his most valuable weapons.
At 270 pounds, Roberts has the size and strength to become a better blocker, although he will need refinement in this area. His routes will need to be crisper, as well. But he should instantly be a viable red-zone threat, just as he was in college, when he was the most efficient red-zone target in Division I, amassing 16 touchdowns.
Despite relatively slow timed speed, Roberts can make plays in the open field, and is a load to bring down in space.
HEIGHT:6-5* WEIGHT: *243
ARM LENGTH: *3 1/2 inches - HND SIZE: 1 3/8 inches
*40: 4.67 seconds* - BENH PRESS: *22 eps
*THREE-CONE DRILL: **7.29 econds
As with Ashland's Adam Shaheen, Saubert overwhelmed his competition. Drake is a non-scholarship FCS program, so he faced few players who are in the same galaxy as NFL prospects. As a result, his learning curve will be steep.
Although he was a latecomer to football, only taking up the sport late in high school, Saubert was productive from the moment he arrived at Drake, catching 47 passes for 549 yards as a freshman. The level of play in the Pioneer Football League meant that Saubert's progress seemed to stall, but he has the athleticism and intelligence to adapt and apply the lessons he will receive at the next level.
Saubert likely won't be ready for extensive work as a rookie, but by his second year, he could be a solid intermediate target.
HEIGHT:6-3* WEIGHT: *248
ARM LENGTH: *2 7/8 inches - HND SIZE: 91/4 inches
*40: 4.62 secondsBENCH PRESS: *22 eps
*SHORT SHUTTLE: *4.18seconds - THREECONE DRILL: **7.12 econds
One of FIU's team leaders, Smith explodes off the snap and plays with power and decisiveness. His measurables will probably knock him down to the middle rounds; he was the shortest tight end at the Scouting Combine, and his hands were the second-smallest.
But the aggressiveness and persistence in his game makes up for a smaller-than-average catch radius. Both of those attributes allow him to win one-on-one battles in tight coverage. Smith is a high-effort, highly coachable player who will likely extract every drop from his talent.