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Slim pickings at tight end

RUMBLIN’ BUMBLIN’— Alge Crumpler is among the top tight ends in the draft.
RUMBLIN’ BUMBLIN’— Alge Crumpler is among the top tight ends in the draft.

This is not a deep position this year, nor are there any super blue chip prospects. There are several very solid players, though for the most part they are all one-dimensional types: either primarily good receivers or good blockers with limited receiving skills.

Todd Heap and Alge Crumpler are by far the class of this group, and the only two worth consideration in the 15-50 area overall. Jabari Holloway and Tony Stewart are a solid, though distant third and fourth in the rankings.

1. Todd Heap 6-4, 250 lbs. Arizona State

Heap is a fine receiver with soft, reliable hands and excels at all aspects of the passing game from a tight end perspective. He has outstanding all-around athletic ability, and when compared against the average tight end, it's even more evident. He has bulked up since the end of the season, perhaps to alleviate concerns that he can't be a solid in-line blocker. But he still needs to develop in this area to prove he can be a complete tight end. Although his ability even as just a receiver will be an asset for most any team.

2. Alge Crumpler 6-2, 265 lbs. North Carolina

Crumpler definitely has an NFL pedigree, as both his father and older brother have played in the league. He is an excellent physical specimen, a fine in-line blocker and displays good movement skills for a player his size. He was used only sparingly in the North Carolina passing game, but showed reliable hands when needed. He is very similar in ability and skill to former Patriot Ben Coates.

3. Jabari Holloway 6-2, 255 lbs. Notre Dame

Holloway was a solid and reliable four-year starter for the Irish, and is somewhat similar to Crumpler in strengths and weaknesses, though slightly smaller and not quite as fast. He is an aggressive run blocker and also displays soft hands in his limited use as a receiver. Fine muscular physique NFL scouts like in a tight end.

4. Tony Stewart 6-5, 255 lbs. Penn State

Stewart is a somewhat underrated player, though he has the tools to be a very good all around tight end, and is the best at his position to come out of Happy Valley since Troy Drayton. He has great tight end size, shows good athletic ability and is capable as both a blocker and receiver. He has the raw skills to become a much better pro than he was a collegian.

5. Marcellus Rivers 6-4, 245 lbs. Oklahoma State

Rivers is a fine receiver and a somewhat limited blocker who would be best suited in an H-Back role. He has the ability to really stretch a defense in the deep seam, and has the raw tools to become a Shannon Sharpe-type tight end. He played wide receiver in college, and as such, has very limited experience as a blocker, especially in-line.