When approaching draft season, positional value is something that is consistently brought up. Certain stigmas already exist such as running back being one of the worst values to draft in the first round. Another stigma is that quarterbacks are the hardest to evaluate but taking a closer look, we can see a position that has a stronger argument for both. Of the seven tight ends taken in the first round since 2017 only two remain on the team that drafted them (Kyle Pitts & David Njoku).
When a team lands an elite tight end, it does wonders for their offense. Mark Andrews has grown to be an elite redzone weapon for Lamar Jackson. George Kittle helped Jimmy Garoppolo play at a level to make it to the Super Bowl. Throughout his career, Patrick Mahomes having Travis Kelce as a safety blanket is a strong reason why he has been so successful. A good tight end can be a rock for a young quarterback and can also help the run game tremendously. With this year’s tight end prospects containing a few blue chip prospects such as Utah’s Dalton Kincaid and Norte Dame’s Michael Mayer, here’s five teams that should consider adding a tight end with their first pick in the NFL Draft.
There are a handful of true Y-iso tight ends in the NFL — those guys who can align solo to one side of the field and just blow defenders away with athletic attributes and ball-tracking ability.
Utah's Dalton Kincaid is about to be one of them. pic.twitter.com/uraxnq8SHP
— Doug Farrar ✍ (@NFL_DougFarrar) April 15, 2023
6 Teams That Should Draft A First Round Tight End
Tennessee Titans (11th Overall)
Of all the receivers traded in recent years, it can be argued that no one missed the player they traded away more than the Titans missed A.J. Brown. The lack of playmakers on this offense was evidently clear, and injuries to Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry exposed this group for one of the weakest in the NFL. The time to move on to a younger quarterback is coming and this offense needs a different way to try and get in rhythm than crashing Henry into the line repeatedly. Adding a playmaker over the middle will not only make things easier on last years rookies Treylon Burks and (potentially) Malik Willis, but will open up the run game.
Green Bay Packers (15th Overall)
Whenever Aaron Rodgers gets traded truly has no bearing on this, Jordan Love has been given the key to this offense. The Packers want to do everything in their power to make sure he can succeed and that means taking a skill position player in the first round for the first time since Javon Walker back in 2002. Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson have flashed potential but neither at this point is a surefire thing. While they still have Marcedes Lewis, he is on the wrong side of 30. Love will need a tight end to help him grow as a passer and attempt the impossible task of filling the shoes of Rodgers.
Tamp Bay Buccaneers (19th Overall)
Tampa has plenty of other needs that they could look to fill, especially with Devin White requesting a trade. By the time they are on the clock, many of the blue-chip players from other positions will be gone. Taking a tight end here helps them not only maximize the value of their pick but it also helps them strike while the iron is hot. They could copy the San Francisco style of surrounding their mid-tier quarterback with elite talent. People may have their doubts about Baker Mayfield but surrounded by Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and one of these drafts top tight ends could help Tampa Bay take advantage of a very weak division.
Los Angeles Chargers (21st Overall)
The Los Angeles Chargers have Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and not much else as far as pass-catching weapons go. Allen and Williams are both above-average receivers, but Allen missed a considerable amount of time to injury last year while Williams’ violent play style naturally leads to bumps and bruises. The Chargers need a third weapon in this passing attack, and it would be hard for them to pass up Dalton Kincaid or Michael Mayer if one of them was still on the board.
Dallas Cowboys (26th Overall)
The Cowboys mock drafts have been all over the board with what they should take. Some feel they should take a successor to Ezekiel Elliot in Bijan Robinson, and others feel they should add a playmaker on the outside. Adding a playmaker would absolutely be in their best interest, especially with them letting Dalton Schultz go in the offseason. Going against stout defenses within the division, the Cowboys need to give Dak Prescott a quick option to get rid of the ball when the opposition is collapsing down on him. A tight end would perhaps put the cowboys in better position, so they don’t end the season like they have the past two seasons on embarrassing plays.
Cincinnati Bengals (28th Overall)
The Bengals have such good weapons on the outside they have perhaps become a model for how to use veteran tight ends as one-year rentals in this league. Beginning back with C.J. Uzomah, moving onto Hayden Hurst last season, and now looking to use Irv Smith Jr. in a similar role. While Smith Jr. has proclaimed he is the missing piece they need to get to a Super Bowl, his history says otherwise. With an elite weapon at tight end, the Bengals would be unstoppable. With Joe Mixon having a difficult offseason, they may need to pivot away from a balanced attack, and drafting a blue-chip player at tight end could help them accomplish just that.
Main Photo: Chris Pietsch – USA Today Sports