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AJ Barner 2024 NFL Draft Profile

After spending his college years at Indiana and Michigan, tight end AJ Barner has officially declared for the 2024 NFL Draft.
AJ Barner NFL Draft

AJ Barner NFL Draft Overview

Position: Tight End
Height: 6′-6″
Weight: 251 pounds
School: Michigan

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2024 NFL Draft: AJ Barner Scouting Report

After transferring to Michigan for his final collegiate season, tight end AJ Barner has officially declared for the 2024 NFL Draft. Barner played a major role in Michigan’s championship, even if he didn’t light up the stat sheet. While he finished with just 22 receptions for 249 yards and a touchdown, his work in the trenches helped power Michigan’s run-heavy attack to a title.

While AJ Barner enters the NFL Draft as a Michigan product, he spent most of his collegiate career at Indiana. While he appeared in three games as a freshman, he first earned regular playing time as a Sophomore in 2021. Appearing in 12 games, the tight end recorded 14 receptions for 162 yards and one touchdown. One year later, he hauled in 28 receptions for 199 yards and three touchdowns.


  • Helped power the run-heavy Wolverines to a championship with strong run blocking;
  • Doesn’t shy away from dirty work in the trenches – wet dream for fans of old-school football;
  • Moves edge defenders in the pile and opens run lanes;
  • Holds his balance against stronger defenders – not going to lose at the point of attack;
  • Sound fundamentals – won’t need much time to adjust to NFL life;
  • Tall – could sneak out as an overlooked red zone threat.


  • Not a pass-catcher – won’t ever be a featured part of the aerial attack;
  • Below-average athleticism suggests there isn’t much of a ceiling here;
  • No lateral agility – strictly a straight-ahead type of player as both a receiver and a blocker;
  • Slow – isn’t going to beat defenders down the field or get to blocks on breakaway runs;
  • Much better as a run blocker than a pass blocker – clearly prefers attacking to defending.

Player Comparison: Dwayne Allen

Teams With Need at Position: New England Patriots, Los Angeles Chargers, Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts, New York Jets

Projection: Rounds 5-6

Bottom Line on AJ Barner in the 2024 NFL Draft

AJ Barner is one of the most straightforward prospects in the NFL Draft. While the entire process is an inexact science, the Michigan product has a straightforward transition to the NFL. While he is a tight end, Barner plays the position like an offensive tackle. This is a compliment, as the reigning National Champion aggressively charges into opposing edge defenders and linebackers alike while creating run lanes. He knows how to wall off defenders and rarely loses his footing against stronger opponents.

Barner’s blocking sets a high floor, but his lack of promise in the passing game creates a low ceiling. The tight end has yet to crack the 250-yard receiving mark in a single season, and that probably won’t change in the pros. While Jim Harbaugh’s run-first offense lowered everyone’s raw production, Barner’s subpar athletic abilities imply that he’ll never be anything more than the fourth or fifth receiving option on any given play.

Michigan’s run-first offense also prevented Barner from developing as a pass blocker. The tight end loves to charge downhill as an aggressive run blocker, but he isn’t nearly as dominant as a pass blocker. Perhaps this can improve with time, but in the short-term, AJ Barner shouldn’t see the field on too many pass plays.

Ultimately, AJ Barner enters the NFL Draft as a safe player who excels in a limited role. Unfortunately, the running game doesn’t matter nearly as much as it used to, so it’s hard to imagine any team justifying anything more than fifth- or sixth-round pick.

Main Photo: Vasha Hunt – USA Today Sports


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