NFL draft 2018 tight end rankings: Is Penn State's Mike Gesicki best of bunch?
The top tight end prospects entering the 2018 NFL draft:
1. Mike Gesicki, Penn State (6-5, 247): With a 41½-inch vertical and 4.54-second 40-yard dash at the scouting combine, he established himself as the best overall athlete among his draft-eligible peers. A former volleyball and basketball standout, Gesicki is at his best when given the opportunity to pluck the ball out of the air, but he can also create separation if given the time to build up speed. Both his effort and execution as a blocker are well short of NFL standards, but his ability to create mismatches as a receiver trumps those concerns. Projected: Round 1-2
2. Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State (6-5, 256): Football Championship Subdivision defenders proved to be little match for Goedert, who recorded 92 receptions for 1,293 and 11 touchdowns last season while finishing as a finalist for the Walter Payton Award, the FCS version of the Heisman Trophy. He has outstanding hands and body control. The NFL will provide a steep challenge for him to create his own separation and refine his route running, but he has the athleticism and skill set to thrive. Projected: Round 1-2
3. Hayden Hurst, South Carolina (6-4, 250): With just one drop and 100 career catches, he might be among the most reliable pass catchers in this class. An aggressive approach and ability to separate should earn him considerable attention as an early starter, though the former pitcher and draftee of the Pittsburgh Pirates will be 25 as a rookie. Projected: Round 1-2
4. Mark Andrews, Oklahoma (6-5, 256): The Mackey Award winner as the nation's top tight end reflects the evolution of the position, as he caught 62 passes for 958 yards and eight touchdowns while primarily being utilized in the slot or out wide. That mismatch ability could carry over to the NFL, as he thrives in the red zone and easily finds holes in zones. He's not the overall athlete that Gesicki is, however and has comparable issues as a blocker. Projected: Round 2-3
5. Ian Thomas, Indiana (6-4, 259): The junior college transfer is somewhat of a long-term bet given he only recorded 28 catches in two seasons. Though still needing refinement as a blocker and route runner, Thomas has the athleticism to carve out an early role as a receiving threat and eventually become a starter. Projected: Round 2-3
6. Dalton Schultz, Stanford (6-5, 244): The latest product in the Cardinal's pipeline of tight ends, he is a reliable if unspectacular presence at the position. He should be an early contributor as a short-area target and valuable blocker. Projected: Round 4-5
7. Christopher Herndon, Miami (Fla.) (6-4, 253): One of the best deep threats in this class, he's at his best when working down the seam. Patience will be required for the coaching staff tasked with improving his route running and blocking, but he has upside as a developmental option. Projected: Round 4-5
8. Troy Fumagalli, Wisconsin (6-5, 247): A former walk-on whose left index finger was amputated after birth, he's let little slow him down in a productive college career in which he recorded 135 receptions. He is a crafty and well-rounded receiver, though his athleticism might limit his ceiling in the NFL. Projected: Round 4-5
9. Tyler Conklin, Central Michigan (6-3, 254): Looking to become the latest former basketball player to carve out a career at tight end, he's turned heads with his highlight-reel catches and impressive body control. Projected: Round 5-7
10: Durham Smythe, Notre Dame (6-5, 253): With just 28 catches in four years, he has limited potential as a receiving threat given his lack of burst. But he could be an asset for a team looking for a throwback run blocker at the position. Projected: Round 5-7
Teams in need of tight ends
1. Jets: Austin Seferian-Jenkins signed with the Jaguars. This team could really use someone like Andrews to help cultivate confidence in the quarterback New York will surely take in Round 1.
2. Seahawks: Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson combined for 14 TD catches in 2017. Neither remains on the roster.
3. Saints: Coby Fleener has been a disappointment. Graham didn't return in free agency. Josh Hill and Benjamin Watson are placeholders.
4. Dolphins: Julius Thomas didn't work out, and Miami doesn't appear to have a front-line replacement on its depth chart.
5. Patriots: With five of the top 95 picks, they've got an opportunity to get a good one — and probably should given their frequent use of multiple tight end sets and, more importantly, the uncertainty surrounding Rob Gronkowski.
Follow Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz on Twitter @mikemschwartz