2024 NFL Draft Rankings: Tight Ends

With the draft less than a month away, the Bears prepare to fill the remaining holes in their roster. They hold the first pick and will use that pick to draft a signal caller. At the ownership meetings, Ryan Poles and Matt Eberflus talked about how excited they were about the ninth pick and all of the possibilities that come with it. The common theory is that the Bears will select a tackle, edge rusher, or wide receiver. After the first round, the Bears wait until the 75th pick in the third round before making their third selection, and unless they trade back, they will end their draft with the 122nd pick in the fourth round. There are a few options for the Bears with those picks, but a tight end could be a target, and here are my rankings.

The Bears’ decision to bring in former Seahawks offensive coordinator Shane Waldron carries significant implications for their draft strategy. Waldron’s offense, which heavily utilizes tight ends, could influence the Bears’ choice of players. In 2022, Waldron’s Seahawks ran 12 personnel (one running back, two tight ends) in nearly 30% of their offensive snaps, a figure that dropped slightly to 23% in 2023. While the Bears have their starters in place with Cole Kmet‘s extension and Gerald Everett‘s signing in free agency, they still need more depth. The departures of Robert Tonyan and Marcedes Lewis left a void in the tight end room, and the Bears must add depth.

1. Brock Bowers Georgia 6’3″ 243lbs

Brock Bowers would undoubtedly be a surprise at the ninth pick, but I don’t believe the Bears make that move. He’s a trusty hands catcher who accelerates off the line and maintains his speed through smooth routes. However, his routes occasionally lacked motor, and it was clear when he was a decoy. Bowers has excellent balance and strength after the catch, allowing him to break through tackles, but his slighter frame will make it more challenging in the NFL. He’s fantastic in traffic as well. Bowers will find soft spots in zone coverage, and when that’s not an option, will leap with body control and positioning to high-point the ball. He does need to work back to the ball more and help his quarterback, but he’ll be a great addition wherever he lands.

2. Ja’Tavion Sanders Texas 6’4″ 245lbs

Ja’Tavion Sanders is another top prospect with starting potential in the NFL, but I have concerns about his blocking ability. Sanders doesn’t have elite athleticism, but he’s certainly athletic. He is a high-motor athlete who outran linebackers with speed and smart angles and will burst off the line and work through contact when necessary. The Texas Longhorn used power to get through contact rather than an entire repertoire of fakes and shiftiness, so he’ll need to develop that skill in the NFL. Sanders has very reliable hands and will high-point the ball. He rarely dropped passes and could be comparable to David Njoku at the next level.

3. Ben Sinnott Kansas State 6’4″ 250lbs

Ben Sinnott is one of the savviest route runners in this tight end class. He runs smooth routes with excellent footwork and creates separation with his eyes, footwork, and shoulder fakes. Sinnott’s an inconsistent blocker, but his blocking is solid and aggressive when he uses good angles to square up. As an elite leaper, Sinnott makes a lot of plays in traffic, and combined with his strong and reliable hands, there’s potential for many highlights. After the catch, Sinnot will lower his shoulder and fight for more yards, but he lacks run-away speed after breaking the tackle. Sinnott’s combine results are eerily similar to those of TJ Hockenson, and if that’s what a team is getting, Sinnott should be a target for any team.

4. Erick All Iowa 6’4″ 254lbs

Erick All reminds me of Kmet. He’s a great route runner, utilizing shoulder shakes and stutter steps and throttling his speed to keep defenders on their heels to compensate for his lower top speed. All stretched the field with West Coast route concepts, which could make him a good fit for Waldron’s offense. He’s also a highly intelligent player who utilizes his body and length to gain an advantage in traffic. He’s speedy enough to win against linebackers, but his strength and determination to fight for more yards might be the most Kmet thing about his game. All doesn’t have Kmet’s blocking prowess, but I’d love to see the Bears bring him in and coach him up.

5. Cade Stover Ohio State 6’4″ 247lbs

Despite his underwhelming vertical leap, Cade Stover might be this class’s best contested-catch tight end. He knows how to use his body and 32.75-inch arms to keep the ball away from a defender and haul it in. Like I said of Rome Odunze, Stover needs his catch-in-traffic ability because he lacks the skill set he’ll need to separate in the NFL consistently. After the catch, Stover falls forward consistently, and he’s strong enough to churn his legs for extra yards. Similarly, he squares up his blocks well and churns his legs throughout the play, but he needs to gain more technique in his hands. Stover isn’t a number-one tight end yet, but he could develop into one with the right coaching and system.

6. Tip Reiman Illinois 6’5″ 271lbs

Tip Reiman will be an honorary lineman for any team that drafts him. Reiman tied for 13th in the bench press, and that’s for all positions, not just tight ends. He blocks aggressively, squares up precisely, and drives his legs through the whistle, highlighting his motor. Illinois didn’t use him as a top target, but Reiman flashed some explosivity and caught almost everything coming his way. He won’t be a top-tier receiver out the gate, but if he fixes his stiffer movement and gets a bit faster, he could develop into a starter. Reiman can fit Mercedes Lewis’ role for the Bears, and I’d welcome him excitedly.

7. Jared Wiley TCU 6’6″ 249lbs

Jared Wiley is an athletic tight end with great leaping ability and length to make the catch away from defenders. His trusty hands and concentration limited drops, and Wiley uses his frame to block out defenders in contested situations. His blocking was too high, and his motor was inconsistent, but if he can clean that up, he’ll be a complete tight end. When Wiley runs routes, he throttles his speed and uses his eyes and shoulder fakes to create separation, and then he sits in the soft spot of zones. Wiley seeks contact at the top of routes, and his physicality overpowers most linebackers and safeties. I’d like to see him work back to the quarterback more, but if a team limits how much blocking they ask for early, Wiley will be a good addition.

8. Dallin Holker Colorado State 6’3″ 241lbs
9. Jaheim Bell FSU 6’2″ 241lbs
10. Theo Johnson Penn State 6’6″ 259lbs
11. Austin Stogner Oklahoma 6’6″ 259lbs
12. Mason Pline Furman 6’7″ 254lbs
13. AJ Barner Michigan 6’6″ 251lbs
14. Brevyn Spann-Ford Minnesota 6’6″ 260lbs
15. Trey Knox South Carolina 6’3″ 240lbs
16. MCCallan Castles Tennessee 6’4″ 249lbs
17. Tanner McLachlan Arizona 6’5″ 244lbs
18. Isaac Rex BYU 6’5″ 250lbs
19. Devin Culp 6’3″ 231lbs
20. Marshel Martin Sacramento State 6’2″ 230lbs

Bowers has the best NFL.com draft grade since Kyle Pitts and may still be available at pick nine. If the Bears don’t take Bowers, they must add depth with one or two more tight ends. We’ll see in a few weeks if Chicago addresses the tight end position in the draft, but there are seven or eight prospects that would be beneficial additions.

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