2023 NFL Draft Tight End Superlatives

Rob Gray - USA TODAY Sports

2023 NFL Draft Tight End Superlatives


2023 NFL Draft Tight End Superlatives


Best Route Runner: Dalton Kincaid, Utah

Rob Gray – USA TODAY Sports

As a receiver, Dalton Kincaid is one of the most polished and NFL-ready tight-end prospects in years. Over his career at Utah, he has developed nuances to his route breaks and movements to get extra separation just before the catch. He is a natural at adjusting routes and rerouting to the ball without sacrificing speed. Kincaid is the total package as a pass catcher and dominated in his final two seasons of college. He has some question marks relating to his size, but his proficiency as a receiver will no doubt translate to the next level. Honorable Mention: Payne Durham, Purdue. 

Best Blocker: Darnell Washington, Georgia

At 6’7 and 264 pounds, Darnell Washington is the class’s most physically imposing tight end. He towers over defenders when he reaches the second level. His combination of size, strength, and explosiveness allows Washington to get leverage on any defender and neutralize them. He is as effective as an extra offensive lineman when blocking in line and will immediately improve any team’s run game. Honorable Mention: Brayden Willis, Oklahoma. 

Best Vertical Threat: Luke Musgrave, Oregon State

For any team searching for a tight end that can act as a fourth wide receiver and force defenses to take him seriously as a receiving threat, look no further than Luke Musgrave. He had the highest depth of target for any tight end in 2021 (minimum 25 targets). His 10-yard split time of  1.54 seconds was the fastest at the combine, and it translated on the field at Oregon State. His straight-line speed allows him to create separation down the field and be a matchup nightmare for linebackers. Pair that with his massive 6’6 frame, and Musgrave is the ideal downfield target for any quarterback. Honorable Mention: Will Mallory, Miami. 

Best Red Zone Target: Zack Kuntz, Old Dominion

Zack Kuntz blew up the NFL Combine by having the highest vertical leap, longest broad jump, second-fastest 40-yard dash, and the most reps on the bench press at the tight end position. At 6’7 and with 34-inch arms, Kuntz is unguardable for smaller defensive backs. Old Dominion frequently used Kuntz in the slot as a mismatch weapon. His speed and fluidity as a receiver give him a very high ceiling in the NFL, but Kuntz’s massive frame should at the very least allow him to be a very productive contested catch tight end, and red zone threat. Honorable Mention: Davis Allen, Clemson. 

Best In-Line: Michael Mayer, Notre Dame

With three years of productivity at Notre Dame and elite grades as a receiver and blocker, Michael Mayer is a plug-and-play in-line tight end. He can physically handle powerful edge rushers and should be ready to take on NFL defensive lineman right away. Although not an elite athlete, Mayer uses his physicality and refined technique to be a dangerous receiver in the middle of the field. He will serve as a safety blanket target and can contribute to the run game as a rookie, which is rare for the position. Honorable Mention: Tucker Kraft, South Dakota State. 

Best After the Catch: Sam LaPorta, Iowa

A perfect fit for wide zone offenses that love to motion their tight ends, Sam LaPorta is one of the best in the class at creating extra yards. He has a developed set of both power and agility moves to make defenders miss in the open field, and broke 20 tackles in 2022. LaPorta had the third-most yards after the catch of any tight end in college football last year. He tested very well in speed and elusiveness drills at the combine, and will be a fun player for an offensive coordinator to scheme up plays for just as Iowa did. Honorable Mention: Brenton Strange, Penn State.


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