Which tight end will go first in the NFL Draft?

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April 13th, 2020

NFL teams may look to the second or third day of the draft to find value at the tight end position, which just doesn’t garner that much first-round attention.  

Last year, only two tight ends were selected in the first round. It is a position that requires further development with prospects, as they’re asked to block and contribute in the pass game.

We may have a slightly longer wait than normal to answer the question this year. Which tight end will be selected first in the NFL Draft?

Cole Kmet (Notre Dame)

Kmet is favored to be the first tight end selected in the NFL Draft, following three seasons at Notre Dame. 

He wasn’t as prominent a figure in the Notre Dame passing game during his first two years, but that changed during his junior season. He took on a more significant role in the offense and posted 43 catches, 515 yards receiving, and six touchdowns.

There seems to be conflicting information about his run-blocking abilities. One NFL scouting report identifies it as an issue, while another listed this as a strength

At 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, he has the size necessary for the position.

Adam Trautman (Dayton)

Don’t count out Trautman yet. 

He put together two great offensive years, including 70 catches, 916 receiving yards, and 14 touchdowns as a senior. But the quality of competition the Flyers face, in the FCS Pioneer League, may work against Trautman when scouts investigate everything that factored into his production.

That’s enough to give Kmet the pre-draft edge, but Trautman’s production shouldn’t be dismissed.  

Brycen Hopkins (Purdue)

Hopkins had a productive senior year with the Boilermakers and had some strong moments at the NFL Combine, as well. 

Hopkins’ offensive production saw significant increases in his final year, with 61 catches, 830 yards, and seven touchdowns. He followed up a strong final season at Purdue with the second best 40-yard dash time at the Combine, at 4.66 seconds. 

Multiple reports, however, have identified a concerning number of drops as one of the largest knocks against Hopkins. 

That production could have certainly been much higher, had he not had so many passes slip through his fingers.

Thaddeus Moss (LSU)

The son of Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss, Thaddeus Moss will now look to leave his mark on the NFL.

Thaddeus Moss had a productive season catching passes from expected No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow. He had 47 catches, for 570 yards and four touchdowns.

Scouting reports have highlighted his ability to run block as his greatest strength, which is important for his position. Look no further than the impact George Kittle has had with the San Francisco 49ers.

Kittle has emerged as a solid receiver, but the tape shows a dominant run-blocking tight end — one who seems to enjoy driving opposing defenders off the line of scrimmage.

His run-blocking abilities alone, however, likely won’t be enough for Thaddeus to become the first tight end selected in this draft. 

Can he offer more of a presence on offense, too?

Albert Okwuegbunam (Missouri) 

Okwuegbunam didn’t post huge offensive numbers during his time with the Tigers. His most productive season was his sophomore year, when he had 43 catches, for 466 yards and six touchdowns. 

He scored 11 touchdowns as a redshirt freshman with Missouri in 2017, and was also able to show his athleticism at the NFL Combine, with a 40-yard dash at 4.49 seconds — the quickest time among the tight ends in attendance.