In this second edition of the 2020 NFL Combine Preview, we go from one of the strongest position groups to possibly the weakest.
Unlike the wide receivers, if the Bears decide to draft a tight end with their first pick in the second round, they could likely have whoever they want at the position. Or at least they should. Teams will always overdraft for need, but in my opinion, there is currently not a tight end worth taking in round one and maybe not even one worth a second-round investment.
That being said, since the Bears have a glaring need at TE, it would not shock me at all to see Ryan Pace select one high, even if there are better prospects at other positions still available.
So let’s start by taking a look at some of the prospects the Bears might consider.
Round 2 Prospects
Cole Kmet (Notre Dame)
Kmet is the closest thing to an all-around tight end in this class. He can play inline, or he can play out wide and in the slot. He can run block and pass block. He’s equally adept as a receiver as he is as a blocker.
The biggest knock on Kmet is he does not have one calling card that he can hang his hat on. He’s got good athleticism, hands and is a solid route runner, but he isn’t going to wow you with any one trait. It’s easy to not get excited about Kmet. He won’t have a lot of highlight-reel plays floating around twitter. He is simply a solid, do-everything tight end in a similar vein of another Notre Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph. That is going to appeal to NFL teams who are usually cautious.
There is not a doubt in my mind Kmet will have a solid 10-plus-year career. He’ll never be a top tight end in the league, but he’ll be in that second tier for a long time.
In a weak tight end class, he has the size and athleticism combination to threaten the seam and get upfield while also showing enough secondary attributes to possibly be the top tight end in the class. And if he tests better athletically than expected, that’s exactly where he will land.
What to watch for at the combine: 40-yard dash
Hunter Bryant (Washington)
If the Bears are looking for a little more upside with one of their second-round picks, they could opt for Bryant.
I could have easily put Bryant in my wide receivers preview as he is a tight end in name only. He is listed at only 6-foot-2 and 239 pounds, and it would not surprise me if his playing weight was closer to 225. Even at 239 he is not an option as an inline tight end and instead would fill the “U” tight end spot for the Bears.
As a receiver he offers everything you want out of a tight end prospect. He has great athleticism to threaten all three levels of the field. He displays tremendous body control to haul in off-target passes, which will be a tremendous asset for the Bears. He’s not a typical catch the ball and fall down type of tight end either, doing some of his best work after the catch.
However, his small stature scares me as there just is not an example of an NFL tight end succeeding at his size. The closest would be Evan Engram, but Engram was a much better athlete than Bryant.
It’ll be interesting to see how Bryant attacks the combine. Does he bulk up to show teams he can play at a heavier weight at the expense of some athleticism? Or does he come into the combine underweight and attempt to blow you away with his athleticism.
What to watch for at the combine: Height, Weight, Arm Length and Bench press
Most to Prove
Adam Trautman (Dayton)
As I said above, there isn’t a tight end I would take in the second round of this draft… currently. But if Trautman blows up the combine like I think he might, that could change.
He certainly has the size for the position at 6-foot-5 and 251 pounds. The only question I really have is does he have the athleticism for the NFL?
It’s difficult to tell when watching his tape. Yes, he looks a lot faster and more athletic than a lot of the players he goes up against in the FCS Pioneer League. So is he fast or is he fast for the league? The combine will either put to rest those concerns or confirm them.
If he does stand out athletically, he will have an argument for the top spot over Kmet. He doesn’t have to be the most athletically gifted tight end to move up boards; he just has to show enough athleticism to prove his production wasn’t a fluke.
Trautman already passed the first test at the Senior Bowl showing he could create separation against NFL talent and also excel at blocking.
To those of you afraid of another Adam Shaheen situation fear not. For one, Shaheen played at the Division II level while Trautman was at the FCS level, so he played much stronger competition. Shaheen never showed the savvy route running or the ability to separate like Trautman has. Maybe Trautman will be a bust, but it won’t have anything to do with Shaheen.
What to watch for at the combine: 40-yard dash and agility drills
Thaddeus Moss (LSU)
Moss, the son of legendary NFL wide receiver Randy Moss, was a virtual unknown at the start of the season, at least when it came to NFL draft circles. Before the season, he had only 5 receptions and they came all the way back in 2016 with North Carolina State. He put together a solid senior season, now with LSU, culminating with a solid college football playoff run with nine receptions for 135 yards and three touchdowns in two games.
Moss is one of the better blocking tight ends and one of only a few true inline prospects. He has great hands and excels in contested catches. His athleticism is sub-par and is not a threat up the seam. Because of this, he won’t create much separation against man coverage. Instead, he’ll have to make a living finding holes in zone coverage and in contested catches, which don’t always translate to the next level.
He still has plenty of room to grow but is most likely a few years from making a meaningful contribution. However, if he performs better than expected in the athletic testing, maybe that timeframe can shrink.
I’ve seen some people list Moss as a top 100 prospect and even have him in the second-round conversation. Moss is a good prospect, but I cannot see him being drafted before Day 3 and most likely in the fifth round even in a weak tight end class.
What to watch for at the combine: Full athletic testing
Devin Asiasi (UCLA)
This is not a great tight end class overall, but there are some intriguing options outside of round two. Asiasi is a player who I believe is being slept on, especially in a weak class, and should be considered a top-five tight end.
Asiasi has great size at 6-foot-3 and 279 pounds but moves better than some of the tight ends in this class who are 30 pounds lighter. He is a fluid route runner with better athleticism than you would expect. He is a hands catcher with good body control and a huge catch radius.
I expect Asiasi to attempt to shed some pounds for the combine in order to show off his athleticism. I would love to see what he can do around 260-265 pounds. If he does, he might sneak his way into late Day 2.
What to watch for at the combine: Weight and 40-yard dash
Charlie Taumoepeau (Portland State)
If the Bears decide to wait until very late in the draft to address the position, then Taumoepeau is the guy they should target.
Taumoepeau is a great athlete who is dangerous with the ball in his hands. He lined up all over the field for Portland State, producing as an inline tight end, on the outside, as well as in the backfield.
Given his listed size of 6-foot-2 and 244 pounds his best position in the pros might be as an H back or fullback. Either way, his athleticism and route-running ability give him a chance to make a difference in the passing game.
What to watch for at the combine: Height, Weight and Bench Press
Fastest 40-yard dash: Hunter Bryant
Highest Vertical: Hunter Bryant
Most Bench press reps: Josiah Deguara (Cincinnati)
Farthest Broad Jump: Stephen Sullivan (LSU)
Fastest 3-cone: Hunter Bryant
Fastest Shuttle: Adam Trautman
Pre-Combine Tight End Rankings
- Cole Kmet (Notre Dame)
- Adam Trautman (Dayton)
- Hunter Bryant (Washington)
- Devin Asiasi (UCLA)
- Brycen Hopkins (Purdue)
- Josiah Deguara (Cincinnati)
- Harrison Bryant (Florida Atlantic)
- Jared Pinkney (Vanderbilt)
- Thaddeus Moss (LSU)
- Albert Okwuegbunam (Missouri)
- Colby Parkinson (Stanford)
- Charlie Taumoepeau (Portland State)
- Cheyenne O’Grady (Arkansas)
- Mitchell Wilcox (South Florida)
- Jacob Breeland (Oregon)