TJ Hockenson: Mr. I Can Do It All at Tight End

Welcome to the 48 Report, a full working database including 48 of our favorite 2019 Draft Prospects. The key, however, is that we focus specifically on their ability to translate as fantasy football players. All players in the database have been/will be scored by 3 writers, and this is their article; explaining their aggregate score, as well as the score of their writer.

All categories are scored on a 1-5 scale; with 5 being the highest score a prospect can receive. The highest aggregate average scores a player can receive is 25. Articles will be posted January-April, all the way up to the draft. Ratings will be adjusted after the combine, based on measurables and after the draft, because as we all know: landing spot matters.

TJ Hockenson (6’5”, 243) Tight End, Iowa

19.3 Aggregate Score (4 Star Prospect)

TJ Hockenson has been a huge riser as this class has developed. Overshadowed in Devy circles by his teammate Noah Fant, he has not been household name, until now. Hockenson plays the tight end position like it should be played. He does the dirty work in the trenches at a high level and he showcases route running and pass catching ability at all levels of the field. He is also an underrated athlete, again overshadowed by Fant who just happens to be a freak. He will surprise some at the combine likely putting up solid to strong numbers across the board. He is a top 2 tight end in this class in both the NFL and fantasy. So which is it it, 1 or 2?

College Production

Tight end production in college is not a pretty thing to look at, but the fact that he and Fant  both produced at the level they did in the same offense is remarkable. Hockenson put up 49 receptions for 760 yards and 6 scores in his sophomore year before declaring for the draft. He caught 10 more balls for 140 more yards than Fant. Both of them outproduced George Kittle who graduated as Hockenson came on campus. Hock also averaged over 15 yards per catch. This is a big time stat especially for a guy who has been labeled by some (incorrectly) as average athletically. All this to say, that while the numbers don’t jump of the page, this is still an impressive stat line. Iowa has a knack for churning out tight end talent and these two are no different.

Speed & Acceleration: Aggregate Score: 3.6 (Personal Score: 4)

I will continue to harp on the fact that Hockenson is an underrated athlete. He creates space and can outrun linebackers no problem. Combine this with his route running and he will have no issue getting open at the next level. One area he can continue to work on is exploding out of the block.

Route Running: Aggregate Score: 3.6 (Personal Score: 4)

Hockenson is a strong route runner. Quick feet and an ability to sell head fakes and quick twitches allow him to set up defenders and separate at a high level. He did often line up against linebackers and safeties though which will be a much taller task at the NFL level where these players can recover much easier.

Blocking: Aggregate Score: 4.6 (Personal Score: 5)

Hock has made a name for himself as one of the best blockers in this class. This really makes him the total package as a tight end prospect and it will be big in getting and keeping him on the field early in his career. He blocks with an aggressiveness and power that is great to see for a guy who is only listed on 243 lbs.

Handwork and Positioning: Aggregate Score: 3.6 (Personal Score: 4)

Hockenson continues the theme of well rounded with good scores here as well. A strong hands catcher with a knack for using his considerable size to his advantage, he will succeed in contested situations against linebackers and safeties early and often.

Athleticism: Aggregate Score: 3.6 (Personal Score: 4)

Basically the only reason reason I didn’t personally give him a 5 in athleticism is that Noah Fant is absurd. Hockenson made some noise at the combine with big time explosive numbers in the jumps and great numbers in the agility drills. The 4.7 forty isn’t great but that is plenty of speed for a tight end who has big time pluses across the rest of the board.

Conclusion: Mid 1st Round Target

I have no fear drafting TJ in the 1st round of your rookie drafts. In superflex, he should probably go in the late 1st. He may take some time to reach his full potential, but the lack of tight end talent in the NFL makes him a worthwhile 1st rounder for any team in need of a tight end. An interesting side note is that tight ends like OJ Howard and David Njoku have held their value well even after some lackluster seasons. While I still have him ranked behind Fant, he could easily have an argument to be the first tight end off the board when landing spots are assigned.

Tommy Sweeney: Fantasy Football UDFA Upside

Tommy Sweeney (6’5”, 260), Tight End, Boston College

20.6 Aggregate Score (4 Star Prospect)

Welcome to the 48 Report, a full working database including 48 of our favorite 2019 Draft Prospects. The key, however, is that we focus specifically on their ability to translate as fantasy football players. All players in the database have been/will be scored by 3 writers, and this is their article; explaining their aggregate score, as well as the score of their writer.

All categories are scored on a 1-5 scale; with 5 being the highest score a prospect can receive. The highest aggregate average scores a player can receive is 25. Articles will be posted January-April, all the way up to the draft. Ratings will be adjusted after the combine, based on measurables and after the draft, because as we all know: landing spot matters.

Tommy Sweeney was originally a 2 star tight end out of Don Bosco Prep  who committed to Boston College (his only D1 offer) in 2013. It’s pretty cool to see stories like his make it to the NFL. Who cares if you were a 5 star or a 1 star, he worked his tail off at the only place that gave him a chance and now here we are, writing about him as an NFL draft prospect. I have him ranked as my 11th TE out of 21 so far (it could change) and I really like his most important trait, his blocking. 

College Production

Like many of the tight ends we review in this report, he didn’t have a whole lot of production catch wise. From what we do have, his senior year was actually a down year for him but not his worst with 32 receptions for 348 yards (10.9 avg – career worst) and 3 TDs. His junior year was his best collecting 36 receptions for 512 yards (14.2 avg) and 4 TDs. Through further inspection, his QB play was really the suspect of all suspect and just not great. They were a run first team by a large margin behind 2020 draft darling AJ Dillon. Tommy Sweeney lead the team in receptions in his junior year and was 2nd in receptions in 2018. So it’s not like the opportunity wasn’t there, he just had a few more bigger games in 2017 than in 2018. 

Speed/Acceleration: Aggregate Score 3 (Personal Score 3)

We all agree that he’s just an average speed TE and that’s OK. Uber athleticism isn’t a need for TE success, its just a plus. What we must remember is that a TE is an offensive lineman-wide receiver hybrid which is why most if not all weigh 245+.

Route Running: Aggregate Score 2 (Personal Score 2)

As stated concerning his production, this team was really run heavy, so there wasn’t much room for showcasing this ability. What we took from the tape is that he was less than average for a TE but not the worst which means he has room to grow in this area. He ran a lot of slant and out routes to which he looked decent. The capability is there, don’t count him out. 

Blocking: Aggregate Score 5 (Personal Score 5)

This is his best quality and also ties him for the best rated blocker in our system along with TJ Hockenson. He had his issues as does any prospect but most importantly, he did very well in his NFL test against Clemson, the cream of the crop in this draft class in terms of defensive line prospects. He engaged his assignments until the whistle was blown similar to Hockenson (sans the aggressiveness Hock shows). 

Handwork/Positioning: Aggregate Score 2.5 (Personal Score 3)

Another one of those traits that aren’t exactly pertinent to TE success when you’re a traditional TE like Sweeney. Where he’s going to have success is in space finding somewhere to sit in a zone coming off the line. I can’t imagine he’ll be lined up all over like a Sternberger or Fant. The group scored him as below average and I see him as basically average in this metric, room to grow. 

Athleticism: Aggregate Score 3 (Personal Score 3)

His scores match his speed/acceleration scores, just average, but again I this won’t matter too much because he’ll be on the line a lot more than the other TEs in this class. He won’t make his hay off of his athleticism. 

Conclusion: Off Waivers

Landing spot won’t matter for him concerning fantasy value. He’ll take time to develop and he’ll be forgotten about. If your league has a deep taxi squad, then sure, pick him up. I think he’ll be middle of the ground in this class and will be usable from time to time as he grows, don’t forget the name though. He can definitely handle himself against NFL prospects blocking which is THE most important skill for a TE to have to get them on the field. 

 

Noah Fant: an Infusion of Tight End Talent

Noah Fant (6’5”, 241), Tight End, Iowa

20.6 Aggregate Score (4 Star Prospect)

Welcome to the 48 Report, a full working database including 48 of our favorite 2019 Draft Prospects. The key, however, is that we focus specifically on their ability to translate as fantasy football players. All players in the database have been/will be scored by 3 writers, and this is their article; explaining their aggregate score, as well as the score of their writer.

All categories are scored on a 1-5 scale; with 5 being the highest score a prospect can receive. The highest aggregate average scores a player can receive is 25. Articles will be posted January-April, all the way up to the draft. Ratings will be adjusted after the combine, based on measurables and after the draft, because as we all know: landing spot matters.

VERY excited to discuss this upcoming NFL Draft stud. As all fantasy players know, 2018 was a year in which the tight end position hit rock bottom. Talent was hard to come by and production was scarce. It practically became a wasteland outside of the top 5 and even they had their struggles.

Enter this year’s draft class rich with plenty of top prospects that should lead the tight end position back to fantasy relevance. Today we will be discussing Iowa Tight End Noah Fant. Fant attended Omaha South High School and played football and basketball. He totaled 1,064 yards on 78 catches and scored 18 touchdowns.

College Production

A 3 star recruit, Fant committed to Iowa in 2016. Fant appeared in 6 games as a freshman, totaling 9 receptions for 70 yards and a touchdown. As a sophomore in 2017, Fant appeared in 12 games catching 30 balls for 494 yards and 11 touchdowns. Looking to improve on a solid sophomore season, Fant appeared in another 12 games in his final college season grabbing 39 receptions for 519 yards and 7 touchdowns.

It is fair to note that while at Iowa, Fant had a running mate in fellow tight end TJ Hockensen who, in his own right, will also be a very high draft pick come April. They are likely to be the first 2 tight ends off the board in the Draft and are both very good tight ends.

Speed/Acceleration: Aggregate Score 4.6 (Personal Score 5)

6 foot 5 inches and 241 pounds, I just want to state that before letting you know Noah Fant possesses elite speed and acceleration for a tight end. Fant was constantly blowing by defenders and has a gear that elite tight ends possess. He creates easy separation for a guy his size and will be a matchup nightmare at the NFL level.

Route Running: Aggregate Score 4 (Personal Score 4)

Very solid route runner who can improve but who couldn’t? Fant has enough in this area to be an elite receiving option right away in the NFL. He has swift cuts and good burst off the line of scrimmage and in and out of his routes. A true matchup nightmare for opposing defenses and it shows on tape.

Blocking: Aggregate Score 3 (Personal Score 3)

Honestly he was better than I thought he was going into the tape. I have heard that he just doesn’t block at all and that is just not true. He can be an effective blocker and has the tools to be a very good one. What he needs to work on is his awareness in blocking schemes. There was a certain play where he was tasked with blocking an outside defender and turning him inside so the RB could get the edge. He succeeded in doing so but he also let a defender run right inside and disrupt the play. If he cut that defender off, the play goes for a big gain. It’s little things that he can do better and if he improves then he will be one of the better all around tight ends sooner rather than later.

Handwork/Positioning: Aggregate Score 4.3 (Personal Score 5)

Good luck getting a hand on this guy because jamming him at the line, at his size, just won’t work. He constantly swatted away defenders at the line of scrimmage. Whether it’s a linebacker, safety or corner defending him, he is going to be difficult to account for with the way he can win at the line of scrimmage.

Athleticism: Aggregate Score 4.6 (Personal Score 5)

Get ready for Fant to be a darling of the combine. He will ace every test with flying colors and his 40 time will especially be monitored because if he an pull a 4.5 or lower then that may secure him a spot in the first round. The bench press also bears watching due to his playing strength. If he can perform well in those two areas then he’s going in the first round.

Conclusion: Late 1st-Early 2nd round

Fant is a bona fide stud and he will no doubt in high demand come rookie draft season. The tight end position needs a shot in the arm and Fant along with the rest of the class should provide it. If you’re sitting around the 1.08-1.12 range and Fant is available, I would pull the trigger. Even if not a need and you’re set at TE, Fant can be a valuable trade commodity with the current state of the position for fantasy football.

Isaac Nauta: 3 Star Prospect with Athletic Upside

Isaac Nauta (6’4”, 240), Tight End, Georgia

14.3 Aggregate Score (3 Star Prospect)

The current tight end landscape in the NFL is bleak at best and horrifying if being honest. This tight class is getting a lot of hype because of its headliners: Fant, Hockenson, and Smith. Nauta may not be in the first tier, but he’s the next man up and he needs to be on your radar.

Nauta was a high school football and basketball standout at the famed IMG Academy. He was a 5-star recruit, an overall top 10 recruit in all major rankings, and the top tight end in his recruiting class. Nauta received major offers from around the country, including Alabama and Michigan, but chose to be a part of the momentum Georgia has been building over the last couple years.

College Production

Nauta made an impact early in Athens. He caught 29 receptions for 361 yards (12.4 yards/reception) and 3 touchdowns in his freshmen year with the Bulldogs. Nauta also contributed to a run-heavy offense his junior, and final year, with 30 receptions for 430 yards (14.3 yards/reception) and 3 touchdowns.

Nauta’s career numbers may not be overwhelming, but Jim Cheney’s scheme for Georgia is run heavy and his offense is loaded with NFL talent. Still, he pulled in 68 receptions for 905 yards (13.3 yards/reception) and 8 touchdowns over his 3-year career. His production in limited opportunity, combined with his high recruiting pedigree makes him an intriguing draft prospect.

Speed/Acceleration: Aggregate Score 4 (Personal Score: 4)

It becomes clear quickly (pun intended) when watching Nauta’s tape that he has great speed. He gets to the second level quickly and outruns linebackers. He looks more like a big wide receiver than a tight end, and I mean that in the best way.

Route Running: Aggregate Score 3.6 (Personal Score: 4)

Nauta doesn’t have a developed route tree, but he does well when he breaks off the line of scrimmage. He is a good seam route runner, works the slant nicely, can find space underneath with a drag route, and can break off an out route.

Nauta lines up next to the tackle in tight formations but it also useful going out wide in a spread offense. He creates space off the line of scrimmage and uses his hands nicely to swipe off defenders with ease. Nauta’s route running is exciting and highlights his athleticism.

Blocking: Aggregate Score: 2.6 (Personal Score: 1)

Nauta can hold a block nicely on one play, and then completely whiff on the next. He is more efficient in pass blocking but doesn’t engage with defenders the way you’d like to see from a body of his size. He bounces off defenders when trying to run block and was completely overwhelmed by Alabama defenders in 2018.

Handwork/Positioning: Aggregate Score: 2.6 (Personal Score: 3)

Nauta uses his hands well to create space, both on the line of scrimmage and when creating space against defensive backs. His hands look soft in space and he pulls in easy balls. Nauta, however, drops balls often when in contested situations. He needs to consistently position his body for success; he has a large frame and if coached up he could be seriously effective.

Athleticism: Aggregate Score: 2.6 (Personal Score: 3)

Nauta is mobile and can be effective at all levels of the field. Georgia lined him up in various formations and can be useful in multiple packages, making him an attractive choice for NFL teams come April. Once he has the ball in his hands, he can make guys miss in space, making him a YAC threat.

Conclusion: 3rd Round Value

Nauta won’t go early in your fantasy football drafts: he has inconsistent hands, needs to develop as a blocker, and could stand to add weight to his frame. Still, Nauta can be a huge value. He has great high school and college pedigree and is seriously athletic and quick. His speed and athleticism is not only a refreshing thing to see at the tight end position, but they are also critical elements of fantasy football success.

Don’t jump on Nauta early, his floor is much lower than Fant, Hockenson, or Smith. Still, his ceiling is nearly as high and worth a mid to late round pick.

Irv Smith Jr.: 4 Star Fantasy Football Prospect

Welcome to the 48 Report, a full working database including 48 of our favorite 2019 Draft Prospects. The key, however, is that we focus specifically on their ability to translate as fantasy football players. All players in the database have been/will be scored by 3 writers, and this is their article; explaining their aggregate score, as well as the score of their writer.

All categories are scored on a 1-5 scale; with 5 being the highest score a prospect can receive. The highest aggregate average scores a player can receive is 25. Articles will be posted January-April, all the way up to the draft. Ratings will be adjusted after the combine, based on measurables and after the draft, because as we all know: landing spot matters.

Irv Smith Jr (6’3”, 243) Tight End, Alabama

18 Aggregate Score (4 Star Prospect)

It is no secret that the tight end position in fantasy football has been a dumpster fire the last few years.  Once you get outside the top 5-7 options, there is minimal upside and even less consistency.  Luckily for us, this 2019 tight end class looks to be a good one! There is some nice top end talent and solid depth that looks to help improve the tight end landscape.

One of the headliners of this class is Alabama TE Irv Smith Jr.  Smith was a 3 star recruit out of New Orleans, Louisiana and played at Brother Martin.  Smith was named ALL-USA Louisiana selection and an All-State honorable mention his senior year.  After receiving offers from Memphis, Texas and Texas A&M, Smith decided to attend Alabama

College Production

After appearing in 9 games as a freshman but not recording any stats, Smith totaled 14 catches for 128 yards and 3 touchdowns his sophomore year. His role and playing time seemed inconsistent through out this season.  This past season as a junior, Smith finally started to break out.  Smith had 44 receptions for 710 yards and 7 touchdowns. Smith now owns the single-season touchdown record at Alabama by a tight end and was named to the All-SEC second team.

Now, I understand that these aren’t eye-popping stats.  However, Alabama has a history of not utilizing their tight ends a ton.  When looking at OJ Howard, who was a 1st round NFL Draft pick in 2017, he only put up 45 receptions for 595 yards and 3 touchdowns his senior year.

Overall, I think Smith showed enough this past season to warrant being one of the top tight ends in this class.  On top of his production, Smith displayed some great skills and traits that should translate to the NFL.  

Speed/Acceleration: Aggregate Score: 4.3 (Personal Score: 4)

Smith has great speed and acceleration for a tight end.  He does a great job of getting off the line of scrimmage and into his routes quickly.  His ability to accelerate and turn up-field after the catch really stood out.  He is going to make it difficult for NFL defenses to defend him.  He looks to be too fast for most linebackers and too big for most defensive back.

Route Running: Aggregate Score: 3 (Personal Score: 3)

One thing that all of our writers noted is that Smith does a good job of finding space and getting open.  Now, this may be due to his route running, but it definitely helped that he was surrounded by talent and wasn’t the focal point at Alabama. 

Smith does a good job of running short routes and turning them into 10+ yard gains.  He also displayed the ability to get open on deeper routes that were 15+ yards down field.  Smith displayed a diverse route tree, which should help him translate to the NFL.

Blocking: Aggregate Score: 2 (Personal Score: 2)

The other writers and I seemed to agree on blocking being our biggest worry about Smith’s game.  He is a smaller tight end that was very inconsistent with his blocking.  There were instances where he engaged well to create a hole and instances of getting stood straight up or missing defenders.  I think he has the tools to improve but I honestly don’t think he will be asked to do much blocking in the NFL.

Handwork/Positioning: Aggregate Score: 4 (Personal Score: 4)

Smith is a very good pass catcher with reliable hands.  He showed instances of using good handwork at the line of scrimmage to get open.  I would have liked to see him in more contested catch scenarios, but as I mentioned earlier, he was often open with little pressure.  Smith does a great job of finding open space and putting himself in position to catch the ball and get yardage after the catch.

Athleticism: Aggregate Score: 4.6 (Personal Score: 5)

Smith is a great athlete that has a ton of upside after the catch.  He combines his strength with the ability to juke defenders and make very nice cuts in the open field.  This combination makes him very difficult to take down.  He is capable of having huge plays, similar to what we saw out of George Kittle this past season.

Conclusion: 2nd round target

I am so excited to see Smith in the NFL.  Like most rookie tight ends, Smith may not make a huge impact right away.  However, Smith has some of the same skills and traits that have helped players like Evan Engram and George Kittle become significant producers in their first two seasons. I’d be extremely comfortable taking Smith anywhere in the second round, unless he lands in Kansas City or Philadelphia for some reason.  Smith is an extremely talented player that has the upside to become a great fantasy asset.

Dawson Knox: 2 Star Fantasy Football Prospect with Big Upside

Welcome to the 48 Report, a full working database including 48 of our favorite 2019 Draft Prospects. The key, however, is that we focus specifically on their ability to translate as fantasy football players. All players in the database have been/will be scored by 3 writers, and this is their article; explaining their aggregate score, as well as the score of their writer.

All categories are scored on a 1-5 scale; with 5 being the highest score a prospect can receive. The highest aggregate average scores a player can receive is 25. Articles will be posted January-April, all the way up to the draft. Ratings will be adjusted after the combine, based on measurables and after the draft, because as we all know: landing spot matters.

Dawson Knox (6’4”, 258) Tight End, Ole Miss

11 Aggregate Score (2 Star Prospect)

Dawson Knox was a walk-on at Ole Miss in 2015, at the quarterback position.  This influences his game significantly. His strengths and weaknesses become more accentuated and it helps to explain how he got to where he is as a prospect. Where is that? Knox is an athlete who understands the game of football well, but is still very much adjusting to a position that asks a lot more of him physically.  The physical tools combined with a strong understanding of defenses could create a high ceiling for Knox. I stand alone as the rater who is dragging the overall score up for Knox and my hope rests entirely on his ceiling and potential.

College Production

Knox was… not productive at Ole Miss to put it politely. After red-shirting his freshman season, Knox played special teams in his second year (2016) which was Evan Engrams final season. Over his final two seasons at Ole Miss he recorded 39 receptions for 605 yards and no scores. While this production borders on putrid for a day two prospect over 17 games, there are many reasons that help to explain the lack of production.  

Knox was dealing with an offense that was less than stellar for how loaded with talent they were (QB Jordan Ta’amu had three receivers not even including Knox who will likely be drafted in the first three rounds in April) and being pretty far down the pecking order in that offense almost eliminates the concern for his numbers.

His numbers will be far less important than the numbers he puts up at the combine.  That is where Knox can, and I believe he will, cement his day two draft stock.

Speed & Acceleration: Aggregate Score: 3 (Personal Score: 4)

Our raters may have been watching different games of Knox with scores ranging from a 2 to my 4 in the speed and acceleration category.  While Knox isn’t Evan Engram in terms of being a fast downfield threat, he does possess the necessary speed to find space in the middle of the field and terrorize up the seam.  The combine will shed far more light on this area, but I am comfortable with the game speed he shows.

Route Running: Aggregate Score: 2 (Personal Score: 3)

Route running is not a strength for Knox currently.  I see flashes of technique, quickness in his breaks and an ability to read his defender and react to create space.  With how crowded the passing game was at Ole Miss, he was limited in his route tree and that will need to be remedied at the next level.  The building blocks are there and I am comfortable projecting a little bit here where my colleagues are not.

Blocking: Aggregate Score: 2 (Personal Score: 2)

Blocking is a weakness for Knox currently which is not a good sign for his chances at early playing time.  He looks to be a willing blocker though he hasn’t quite figured it out yet. I don’t foresee a blocking role for Knox at the next level and he won’t be drafted for that, however, the strength and technique need to improve.

Handwork and Positioning: Aggregate Score: 1.6 (Personal Score: 3)

Receiving two 1’s in a category is never good.  That is what happened here. I see what they see in that he has not shown a propensity for coming down with contested catches.  This is a concern especially for his fantasy potential as a lack of red zone usage tanks any tight end’s value. However, I see strong hands at the catch point and an ability to set up defenders where he wants as his route develops which will serve him well with his size.

Athleticism: Aggregate Score: 2.6 (Personal Score: 4)

I am convinced the athleticism that my partners don’t see on tape will show up at the combine and will continue to be apparent when Knox is released as a move tight end.  His size and body control are both high level. The speed, quickness and leaping ability should all be pluses post combine.

Conclusion: Early 3rd Round Target

Landing spot will determine a lot of things for Dawson Knox but I know he will be a given an opportunity wherever he is drafted.  In a deep draft, he does blend in with a lot of other talent in this range, but the positional scarcity gives tight end a bump for me in the later rounds of rookie drafts.  Knox is currently my rookie TE4. The three guys ahead of him are all more complete tight ends with much less work to do, but his ceiling is as high as all but Noah Fant and that makes him well worth taking at the top of the 3rd.