Andrew Harbaugh | July 18th, 2019
Yesterday we had the joy of having my top five wide receivers being released, which can be found below, today though we round out the skill positions and the positions you fantasy players care about.
The wide receivers rankings released yesterday went over pretty well. Most people have the same top three across the board they just may have them in a different order. Tyler Johnson being in the top five I think calmed many Gopher fans but I don’t think Corey Davis comps put everyone at ease. That being said the beat goes on!
Again though that’s the beauty of scouting, it’s in the eye of the beholder and we each have different eyes for talent. If we all had the same views then optometrists would be in trouble.
Now, keep in mind while reading to let me know what players I’m missing out on, what players I’m low on, and what players I’m too high on. The beauty of the NFL draft is everyone has an opinion and it is important every gets a chance to share how they feel on players.
Last year we had the amazing pair from Iowa in T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant, this year we don’t have anyone who, at this point, is even close to the same tier as them. We do have some talent in the top five worth discussing and keeping an eye on as the season progresses.
Jacob Breeland joined my summer watch list pretty late. It wasn’t until Jim Nagy tweeted out his name when discussing some west coast names they were following that I added him. Now he enters the season as my top-ranked tight end prospect.
Breeland surprised me with his natural pass-catching ability paired up with decent blocking skills. Quarterback Justin Herbert showed he trusted him as well, which speaks a lot when he would always seem to target him on a third-down or red-zone attempt. He adjusts to any ball, tracking it all the way in, and from what I saw didn’t have a drop.
If Breeland can polish up his route running and continue to show he can be athletic then he could be a surprise leader in the tight end clubhouse come draft time.
Year: Redshirt Junior
Albert Okwuegbunam surprised several media outlets and teams when he announced he was returning to school this year. Some people thought that his quarterback Drew Lock made him look good at times but I believe it to be the opposite, and it seems NFL teams agreed with that.
He has very soft hands and a tremendous ability to look the ball in. Time and again Lock would target him whether it be a long or short-yardage situation. He especially liked him as a red-zone target which is why Albert has reeled in 17 touchdowns in two years at Missouri. Not to mention when he does get the ball after a dump off or flat route he has shown great vision and acceleration after the catch to turn upfield and score as well.
Okwuegbunam’s biggest thing is if he can work on breaking free on routes with a little more ease. It seemed at times his big frame was letting him outmuscle guys and in the NFL everyone is as big if not bigger than he is. Working on those routes can see him take the top spot by draft season.
After a quick gut reaction to watching Colby Parkinson, I saw a little bit of Evan Engram. He lines up at receiver just as much as tight end in games and is a true hybrid at the position.
Parkinson’s route running is so clean though of all the tight ends I do believe he could be a wide receiver at the next level if need be. Compared to last year he isn’t in the same tier as Fant or Hockenson but I would rank his route running above Irv Smith Jr. His biggest asset, literally, is his size. With him being listed at 6’7” he becomes an obvious red-zone target no matter where he ends up.
Parkinson will need to develop and decide what position he wants to be at the next level. Obviously in the NFL not many are ideal blockers anymore, except for the likes of Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz, so Parkinson can be a great fit into what an NFL tight end can be. He can break the bad streak of Stanford tight ends in the NFL as of late in Devon Cajuste and Coby Fleener to name a few.
Vanderbilt has two seniors who are stars returning and Jared Pinkney is one of them. Vanderbilt has been seen as a great defensive school but still a bottom feeder in the SEC, no more.
Pinkney established himself as a legit tight end prospect last year while dealing with subpar quarterback play from Kyle Shurmur. Pinkney has fantastic hands, decent route running and great body control. What really excites me is to see how these traits grow with a new and a better quarterback in transferring Riley Neal from Ball State. Being as good as he was with poor quarterback play should mean that with decent to almost good play means we see a big step from the senior tight end.
The biggest question mark for Pinkney is sustainability. Last year was the first year he played all the games Vanderbilt had in the last three years so avoiding injury and showing growth is what is the biggest key for Pinkney and his track to the NFL.
Year: Redshirt Senior
Rounding out my tight end rankings is a nitty-gritty tight end out of one of the toughest schools in the Big Ten. Brycen Hopkins fights and claws on every play and an NFL team should love to have him.
Last year my tight end crush was Foster Moreau, great blocker with soft hands. Hopkins to me reminds me of a more athletic Foster Moreau. Hopkins has been used more in the passing game than Moreau ever was but he is also not as polished a blocker. Hopkins should see less coverage benefitting from playing with Rondale Moore as well which will certainly help him step out into the NFL scouting spotlight.
Cleaning up route running and working on blocking will be crucial to his NFL success. He has great speed for his body size he just needs to use it properly to make himself more open in the NFL. Big year ahead for the Boilermakers and Hopkins will be playing a big but silent part.
Questions and comments?
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