Last year’s tight end crop was loaded with talent. Guys like Jace Amaro and Eric Ebron put up great numbers and provided fantasy owners with week-to-week consistency. This year’s class is pretty wide open as there is not one tight end that projects to put up the numbers that the aforementioned duo did. But there are some talented pass catchers who can be had in the middle to later rounds of drafts that will be household names by season’s end.
Gerald Christian, Louisville – The Florida transfer showed flashes of talent last year and is primed for breakout senior season. He caught 28 passes for 426 yards and four touchdowns. Built in the mold of today’s “move tight end”, Christian stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 242 pounds. He’s not your traditional blocking tight end, but who cares about blocking because there are no fantasy points for that. What he is though is a mismatch for linebackers and safeties with his size and speed. Underutilized by the previous coaching staff, new Cardinal Head coach Bobby Petrino likes to use the tight end in his offense and that was evident this spring. Christian caught eight passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns in the Spring Game capping off a great offseason. Owners will want to target him in the middle rounds as he could finish the season as the number one tight end.
Pharaoh Brown, Oregon – Brown’s career thus far has been marred with injuries and off the field incidents. He was competing for the starting position last fall camp but an ankle injury forced him to miss most of August and the first three games of the season. Opportunity arose when Colt Lyerla was kicked out of the program. Brown started five of the team’s last nine games. He only caught ten passes on the season for 123 yards and two touchdowns, but he showed glimpses of his immense talent. Standing 6-foot-5 and 241 pounds, Brown has the size and speed to be a force for Oregon in their passing game. This is an Oregon offense that will be searching for playmakers in the passing game after losing Braylon Addison this spring to a torn ACL and Josh Huff and DeAnthony Thomas to the NFL. If Brown can stay healthy he should start and become a go-to option in red zone situations.
Eric Cotton, Stanford – Stanford in recent years was becoming a tight end factory that fantasy owners could rely on for consistent numbers. Between 2011 and 2012, Coby Fleener, Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo combined for 179 receptions for 2,647 yards and 30 touchdowns. Last season Stanford’s tight ends managed just 10 catches for 69 yards. There was less emphasis on the position as Stanford had more talent at the wide receiver position and most of the freshmen tight ends were redshirted. Look for things to change in 2014. Eric Cotton received a lot of reps with the first team during the spring and flashed talent that will remind many of his predecessors, Fleener and Ertz. Standing 6-foot-6 and 242 pounds, Cotton caught two passes for 20 yards in the Spring Game, including this 13 yard touchdown: http://bit.ly/1go5Zrw (via the Pac12Networks). Cotton will have competition during fall camp as Austin Hooper, Charlie Hopkins and Greg Taboada all vie for playing time. Also keep tabs on true freshman Dalton Schultz, who was ranked as the number one tight end prospect by most recruiting outlets.
Bryce Williams, Eastern Carolina – Williams is listed on the ECU website as an Inside Receiver/Tight End, so owners may want to check what his position eligibility before drafts. The 6-foot-6, 250 pound Williams was tight end eligible last season and he put up sneaky good numbers in one of the nation’s best offenses. Williams caught 20 passes for 220 yards and 5 touchdowns. With his size and height Williams is a primary target for Pirates quarterback Shane Carden in the red zone. Prolific wide receiver Justin Hardy returns and will draw a lot of attention on the outside, giving Williams the opportunity to double last season’s numbers.
Others To Keep An Eye On
• Justin Sinz – Purdue
• Billy Freeman – San Jose State
• Johnny Mundt – Oregon
• Mitchell Henry – Western Kentucky
• Josiah Price – Michigan State
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