The Chicago Bears have brought in Demetrius Harris and Jimmy Graham this offseason in an attempt to finally solidify the tight end position, at least for this season.
However, neither of those signings should prevent the Bears from drafting a tight end in this year’s draft.
Now, if they choose not to draft a tight end because it’s the weakest position in this year’s draft, and could be the weakest group this decade, that is a different story. There are no tight ends worthy of a first-round pick, and where the Bears are drafting in the second round the value really isn’t there as well.
Despite those facts, there are some intriguing options and we cannot rule out the possibility of the Bears investing in the position.
Here are my rankings for the 2020 tight end draft class:
1. Cole Kmet (Notre Dame)
To me, Kmet is the clear cut number one tight end in this class. A two-sport athlete in college, Kmet is just now starting to focus on football and the results started to show. He had his best season in 2019, racking up 43 receptions for 515 yards and 6 touchdowns in only 10 games. While his numbers don’t jump off the page like other prospects, there is a lot he offers that can get you excited about his future.
Kmet is the biggest tight end in this class at 6-foot-6 and 262 pounds. Despite having roughly 20 pounds on a lot of his competition, he tested as one of the better athletes at the position at the combine. He finished fourth in the 40-yard dash (4.7 seconds) and showed off his explosiveness finishing first in the vertical (37 inches) and second in broad jump (123 inches). Overall, he earned an elite 9.22 (out of 10) relative athletic score, which was second at the position.
Kmet is one of the youngest players in the draft just recently turning 21 years old. He has a huge catch radius and displays good body control and hands. His prototypical size and length should allow him to develop as a blocker and his best football is clearly ahead of him.
He is a prototypical “Y” tight end but is still raw. He probably would have benefited from going back to college for one more year, but in a weak tight end class, you can’t blame him for coming out early. Most tight ends take a year or two to develop and Kmet will be the same. But his size, length and athleticism give him a high floor and should be at least a solid starter in a few years.
Round Grade: 3rd
2. Adam Trautman (Dayton)
Scouting small school prospects is difficult. Trautman dominated the level of competition he faced, but that should be required of any small school prospect looking to transition to the NFL.
He proved at the Senior Bowl and the NFL combine that his production in the FCS was no fluke. His potential was on full display in one-on-one drills at the Senior Bowl where he consistently was able to get open against good competition. He also showed he can be a good run blocker where his 6-foot-5 255-pound frame will be an asset for him.
His combine performance wasn’t dominant, but he proved to be athletic enough to make an impact at the NFL level. His 4.8 40-yard dash was concerning, but his 1.57 10-yard split (2nd among tight ends) and 34.5-inch vertical leap showed he had the explosiveness to make up for it. He also dominated the agility drills, finishing as the top performer in the 3-cone drill (6.78 seconds), which shows on tape where his change of direction skills make him one of the better route runners at the position.
Trautman is another “Y” tight end prospect who, like Kmet, should be able to be a mismatch in the passing game due to his size. Like pretty much every tight end, he will need a year or two to adjust to the pro level and given the level of competition he played against, I would bet that being closer to two.
Round Grade: 3rd-4th
3. Brycen Hopkins (Purdue)
Hopkins is many people’s top tight end due to his receiving ability. While he is a good receiver, there are reasons to be concerned about how his game will translate to the NFL. Hopkin’s size advantage (6-foot-4, 245 pounds) would make you think he is a better blocker, but that is not the case.
Hopkins has good straight-line speed as evidenced by his 4.66 40-yard dash. However, he is a very linear athlete with not much wiggle to his game. Hunter Bryant had 10 missed tackles forced this past season, while Hopkins only had 10 his entire career. Seeing as he is a four-year player who just turned 23 that is not a good sign.
But my biggest concern with Hopkins is his drops. For his career he has 22 drops on 152 catchable passes, including eight just this season. His 11.1 drop percentage is the highest in this class and the only player of 10 percent. This is surprising given his success in contested catch situations where he caught 10 of 17 targets.
Overall, Hopkins will have value as a receiver. But his issues with drops and complete liability as a blocker are concerning. You can live with that when you’re dealing with an elite athlete. However, Hopkins tested as only a good athlete, especially when factoring in the fact he only weighs 245 pounds. He’ll have a role in the NFL as a seam buster and is best suited for a vertical passing offense.
Round Grade: 4th
4. Hunter Bryant (Washington)
Like Hopkins, Bryant is going to be best used as a “U” tight end in the NFL. That being said, he is a tight end in name only and is essentially a wide receiver. Both will have to make their living as a receiver who can be a mismatch on linebackers, and I like Hopkins better in that role.
He proved he can be a mismatch in the passing game this past season when he set career highs in receptions (52), yards (825) and touchdowns (3). He is able to beat linebackers and even corners in man coverage and is a threat after the catch with 10 missed tackles forced in 2019 alone.
I am not going to put a lot of stock into his poor combine because he clearly tried to bulk up at the expense of his athleticism. He weighed in at 248 pounds, which I am guessing is 12-15 pounds heavier than he played in college. I am going to choose to trust the tape, which showed an electric athlete.
Bryant is a player who might go later than expected given his lack of size, blocking ability and poor combine performance. He’s never going to be an elite tight end, but as a matchup player and third option in an offense, you can do a lot worse.
Round Grade: 4th
5. Josiah Deguara (Cincinnati)
If you’ve read my previous mock drafts, you’ll know how much I like Deguara as a prospect. His biggest weakness is a lack of a signature skill. But he does everything well and can succeed in any role he is asked to fill. He can line up inline as a “Y” tight end, split out wide as a “U” tight end and even in the backfield as an H-back.
I wrote about Deguara in my most recent mock draft so I’ll keep this section short.
In a weak tight end class with not a lot of upside, the safety blanket of Deguara should be valued highly. He tested much better than some other prospects that are rated above him, so he deserves more credit for his athletic ability. Deguara should have a long career as a low-end starter in the NFL.
Round Grade: 4th
6. Devin Asiasi (UCLA)
Asiasi started his college career at Michigan before transferring to UCLA. He only had eight total receptions before this season. He was a non-prospect a season before exploding onto the scene with 44 receptions for 641 yards.
He might only have one year of tape, but he proved he has the requisite skills to be a player in this league. He has good size at 6-foot-3 and 257 pounds while possessing the desired athleticism and blocking ability for the “Y” tight end position. Depending on how he develops as a route runner, he could potentially fill both roles in the NFL.
Asiasi might be the best blocking tight end in the class and that gives him a fairly high floor. It also should allow him to carve out a role in an offense earlier than some other prospects. He is raw as a route runner but should have no problem being an underneath target and finding holes in zone coverage. He also has enough potential to develop into much more.
Round Grade: 4th-5th
7. Albert Okwuegubam (Missouri)
Okwuegubam started the season as arguably the top tight end in the class. He had high hopes, which he failed to live up to, as he only managed 306 yards on 26 receptions this past season.
He has good straight-line speed, which is validated by his 4.49 40-yard dash, but his lateral agility is very limited and that restricts him as a route runner and his after the catch potential. Despite his large frame at 6-foot-5 and 258 pounds, he struggles in contested catch situations. A player who doesn’t create separation and can be bullied at the catch point won’t have much value in the NFL. He can still be a chain mover on underneath crossers, but that doesn’t get you drafted high.
When you look at Okwuegubam, you would think he would be a good run blocker, but he is extremely soft at the point of attack. He has the frame to improve, but at this point, he is a big “U” tight end with average athleticism. It is hard to see a team valuing that profile very highly.
Round Grade: 5th-6th
8. Dalton Keene (Virginia Tech)
Keene was criminally underutilized in Virginia Tech’s offense. He was used primarily as a blocker and on underneath crossing routes. He had 59 receptions his entire career and only 16 were more than five yards downfield. He also forced nine broken tackles on those limited receptions and averaged 8.6 yards after the catch in 2019, making him a threat with the ball in his hands.
He proved at the combine that he has the potential to be so much more than how he was used at Virginia Tech. He posted the highest relative athletic score at the position. He also posted above-average testing in every category and that athleticism makes him an intriguing project on day three.
His elite athleticism gives him a relatively high floor, and I would feel much more comfortable taking a chance on Keene than some other, more productive college tight ends who are below average athletes.
Round Grade: 6th
9. Thaddeus Moss (LSU)
Moss got some hype early in the offseason almost entirely because he is Randy Moss’ son. Turn on the tape and you see a below-average athlete with good hands who is a hard worker and a good blocker.
Given his lack of athleticism, he won’t ever be a threat as a receiver but as the best blocker at the position, he has a place in the NFL. He has great hands and should be a good blocking tight end and chain mover but nothing more.
Round Grade: 7th
10. Harrison Bryant (Florida Atlantic)
Bryant is a player I never understood the hype on. He put up great numbers at Florida Atlantic on his way to winning the John Mackey Award for the best tight end in the nation. On paper that seems like a prospect worthy of a top pick. However, his production was mostly on schemed opportunities and finding holes in zone coverage rather than beating his man one on one.
He came into the combine at 243 pounds, which is fine for a “U” tight end, but I expected to see an above-average athlete at that weight given his production. But that was not the case. Bryant tested as a below-average athlete pretty much across the board. Maybe most concerning he measured with the shortest arms at the position, which is going to hurt him both as a receiver and as a blocker.
Overall, Bryant is an undersized, poor athlete, with below average length and play strength. He has decent body control and is a good route runner, which is going to get him drafted. If I were Ryan Pace, I would let someone else bet on that profile.
Round Grade: 7th