Posted: 5:00 p.m. Monday, April 15, 2013
By Trevor Woods
With Delanie Walker now a member of the Tennessee Titans, and the 49ers opting not to sign a tight end in free agency, a TE will be selected by the Niners in the draft. I believe one of the players in this top ten will be selected by the 49ers, which one remains to be seen.
You can go back and look at my January top ten tight ends here.
Here is my current top ten at tight end:
1. Tyler Eifert 6'5" 250 lbs- Notre Dame Stock: Steady Projection: 1st
2. Zach Ertz 6'5" 249 lbs - Stanford Stock: Steady Projection: 2nd
3. Travis Kelce 6'5" 255 lbs- Cincinatti Stock: Rising Projection: 2nd
4. Vance McDonald 6'4" 267 lbs- Rice Stock: Rising Projection: 2-3
5. Gavin Escobar 6'5" 254 lbs- San Diego State Stock: Falling Projection: 3-4
6. Jordan Reed 6'2" 236 lbs- Florida Stock: Rising Projection: 2-3
7. Dion Sims 6'4" 262 lbs- Michigan State Stock: Steady Projection: 3rd
8. Ryan Otten 6'5" 230 lbs- San Jose State Stock: Steady Projection: 4-5
9. Chris Gragg 6'3" 244 lbs- Arkansas Stock: Steady Projection: 4-5
10. Nick Kasa 6'6" 269 lbs- Colorado Stock: Rising Projection: 4-5
Note: I believe the 49ers will go after a tight end with above average blocking skills. A few on this list are below average blockers. Jim Harbaugh will want a tight end that is a "complete" player at the position, not just a receiving tight end.
The top two spots remain unchanged, with Tyler Eifert and Zach Ertz at No. 1 and No. 2 respectively. It will be interesting to see if they fall down the draft board at all. With many teams filling their tight end need via free agency, one of these players could fall out of the first round. Click here for Eifert's prospect profile.
Moving up the list is Travis Kelce at No. 3. Kelce is the best blocking tight end in the draft and would be a good replacement for Delanie Walker. Kelce ran a 4.62 forty at a private workout last week, showing he is recovered from a sports hernia injury. The combination of the injury and some character concerns in the past will have some teams shying away, which makes him the kind of player the 49ers might draft. Kelce visited the 49ers over the weekend.
Another tight end with blocking skills is Vance McDonald, at No. 4. McDonald can stretch the field with his 4.6 forty speed, and runs crisp routes to go along with it. He's big enough, tall enough, and fast enough to create a mismatch on any given play. The biggest knock on Vance is he has dropped some catchable balls from time to time. Look for McDonald to be drafted in round two. Click here for McDonald's prospect profile.
At No. 5, we have the talented San Diego State product Gavin Escobar. The 49ers met with Escobar last month, so he is a name to keep an eye on if he isn't off the board by pick No. 61. While he is not a burner (4.84 forty), Escobar knows how to get open and shows a good release off of the line. Escobar has just enough speed to leave defenders guessing whether he is going to break a route off or go vertically down the field, leading to Escobar getting open. A big plus for Escobar is that he's never missed a game due to injury in college, he's quite durable. Click here for Escobar's prospect profile.
At No. 6 we have Jordan Reed, who is a poor blocker, and more of a receiver. He could turn out to be a fine pro, but he also could be thrown around by defenders more often than not when he is called on to block. For this reason, Reed isn't a fit for the 49ers. Jordan could wind up becoming one of the more exciting tight ends to watch in the draft, but he is still raw in many areas right now. Greg Cosell has compared Reed to Aaron Hernandez.
A player who may become a "steal" for a team is Chris Gragg. Gragg will more than likely be drafted by the end of the fourth round, and this is a great value pick for any team willing to surrender their fourth round selection. Gragg ran a 4.5 forty at the combine, and has shown he is a solid route runner who also has tremendous yards after catch ability. Gragg is also a willing blocker with a lot of strength behind his 6'3" 244 lbs frame. Gragg reminds me a lot of Delanie Walker, with more upside. Click here for Gragg's prospect profile.
What is your top ten? Who do you see the 49ers drafting at tight end?