If you really think about it, there are positions in football that aren’t fair. Tight ends is one of those positions. A player that can block a defensive lineman and run past a defensive back is a unique player that’s a nightmare to stop. This year’s group is full of guys that excel at those things, and many of them have a future in the NFL.
Barry Alvarez’s grandson, Baby Gronk, a former quarterback, and a former walk-on, the tight ends in this year’s group are special and worth watching. The Top 5 will be highly debated, but that’s a good thing if your NFL team needs a guy at tight end next year.
Top CFB Tight Ends
25. Josh Pederson, UL-Monroe
The Warhawks tight end returns with the most touchdown catches (9) among returning college football tight ends.
24. Tony Poljan, Central Michigan
Former quarterback made the switch to tight end, and it now finding his groove at the position. He’s a tall target (6’7″) who’s still working on loosing up his hips to run more fluid routes. A great target for any quarterback.
23. Cade Otton, Washington
Hunter Bryant is gone, leaving more chances for Otton to shine. He’s already a solid pass catcher to go with his strength as a blocker, giving the Huskies a balanced player at the position.
22. Trey McBride, Colorado State
Solid route runner who rarely gets knocked off his path. He’ll compete with the Rams wide receivers for catches, but he knows what to do when the ball’s in his hands.
21. Miller Forristall, Alabama
If you need toughness on your team, Forristall is your guy. He played five games with a broken ankle two years ago, and that put him in the good graces of the coaching staff.
20. Cade Brewer, Texas
With Collin Johnson and Devin Duvernay gone, Brewer should see the ball come his way more often. Once the ball’s in his hands, he’s athletic enough to bounce off tacklers and pick up extra yardage.
19. Peyton Hendershot, Indiana
If he plays this year, he’ll give the Hoosiers a solid target at tight end. His reliable hands make drops rare, and his ability to snatch passes outside of his frame give his quarterback room for error.
18. Xavier Gaines, Marshall
Marshall lined him up at quarterback given that’s how he came to them. Gaines is a burner who can add size to become even more of a nightmare to cover. He caught 27 passes for 306 yards and three touchdowns last year.
17. Jalen Wydermyer, Texas A&M
Wydermyer caught just 32 passes last year, but should get more opportunities this year with a couple key receivers gone. He’ll have competition for the starting spot and need to improve as a blocker, but he’s a great option as a pass catcher.
Barry Alvarez’s grandson continues the Wisconsin tradition at tight end. He came to Madison as a raw prospect, but he’s improved every single year, and could play two more years.
15. James Mitchell, Virginia Tech
A goal line option for the Hokies as a runner, Mitchell brings versatility to Virginia Tech’s offense. While he only caught 21 passes last season, he averaged 17.2 yards per catch with his speed. If he’s given a little space, Mitchell can gash a defense.
Duke players don’t get a ton of attention on the football field, but Gray is one of the best at his position. He’ll make more of an impact as a blocker, but he’s reliable as a pass catcher.
At 6’2″, 235 pounds, Kuithe doesn’t have the typical size for a tight end. But his skillset makes him a tough matchup. In just 34 catches, he produced 602 yards and six touchdowns for the Utes, and will be one of the few reliable pass catchers returning to the offense.
12. Jeremy Ruckert, Ohio State
Everyone knows about the catch he made last year in the Big Ten Championship Game, but can he become a consistent player for the Buckeyes? Ruckert has the skills to be a dude, but he’ll face stiff competition.
He surprised fans by returning for one more year as a Cougar, and he gives BYU a great option downfield. If you need someone to catch a jump ball, Bushman’s your guy. He returns 125 career catches for 1,719 yards and nine touchdowns.
A former walk-on, Ford made quick work to get on scholarship. He only caught 20 passes last year, but seven of them went for touchdowns. Imagine if that rate continues with more catches.
Former Rice transfer had a breakout year in his first year with the Mustangs, producing 721 yards and nine touchdowns. With James Proche gone, Granson figures to get more catches and have an even better season.
He only caught seven passes last year, but he’ll get more chances to makes plays this year. Farrell has the skillset that NFL teams want, and he just needs more chances to show what he can do to improve his stock.
7. Hunter Long, Boston College
Boston College didn’t use tight ends much the last few years, but Long showed that he can make an impact. With a new coaching staff entering the picture, he could be an All-Conference selection.
A great blocker who can dominate his man, Bates also brings a large catch radius to the table. At 6’6″, there aren’t many passes that he can’t catch. The Broncos offense needs more playmakers to step up this year and their tight end gives them a great option.
Michigan’s pass catchers are loaded, and Eubanks can add to that group again this year. He’s already one of Jim Harbaugh’s favorite players, and he’ll have freedom in Josh Gattis’ offense to make plays. That’s assuming the new quarterback can get him the football.
Baby Gronk will be joining Big Gronk in the NFL soon enough, and it’s easy to see why. A former quarterback and basketball recruit, Freiermuth had to figure things out at his new position. He embraced the change, and now he’s one of the best at his position. From his pass catching to his physical blocking, Freiermuth will be a name to watch this year.
His dream school, Oklahoma, never came calling, so Kolar made a home in Ames. A big reason for Brock Purdy’s success is due to a target like Kolar. He’s already a big target at 6’6″, 252 pounds, but he can make athletic catches and extend his catch radius by putting his body into awkward positions.
Injuries have limited his career, but Jordan can be a stud when he’s healthy and on the field. What will his final year of college football produce? If he gets a full season, 1,000 yards receiving isn’t out of the question.
Pitts returns as the top returning target for Kyle Trask and the Florida Gators offense. He could have gone pro this offseason, but decided to return to school to improve his draft stock for next year.
CARY ANGELINE, NC STATE WOLFPACK
Angeline averaged 15.2 yards per catch on a Wolfpack offense that struggled to move the football.
JAKE TONGES, CAL GOLDEN BEARS
Averaged 20.2 yards per catch with just 13 catches, leading all returning college football tight ends.
PRO WELLS, TCU HORNED FROGS
Second team All-Big 12 selection returns to the TCU offense, and has a great name for a football player.
JELANI WOODS, OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS
Oklahoma State has a ton of weapons, and Woods gives Spencer Sanders a big target (6’7”, 265 pounds).
JAKE PAULSON, MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS
Dominant blocker who doesn’t back down from a challenge could also see more action as a pass catcher this year.
LUKAS KRULL, PITTSBURGH PANTHERS
Tall (6’6”) athlete with a great catch radius didn’t see a ton of action at Florida, so he transferred to Pitt.
BRADEN GALLOWAY, CLEMSON TIGERS
Suspension kept him out for a good chunk of the 2019 season, but showed some explosive flashes in the playoff.
SPENCER WEBB, OREGON DUCKS
His jump ball catch against Auburn in the first week of 2019 started the hype, and he now needs to become consistent.
JEREMIAH HALL, OKLAHOMA SOONERS
Tight end. Full back. H-back. Doesn’t matter what you call him. Hall’s super underrated even within his own offense.
CHASE ALLEN, IOWA STATE CYCLONES
Charlie Kolar gets most of the attention, but Allen (6’7”) gives the Cyclones another great target downfield.