Overvalued 2019 NFL Draft Targets: TE (Fantasy Football)
Finding overvalued prospects at the tight end position position is slightly more difficult than finding overvalued running backs or wide receivers for a couple of reasons: A) the draft classes of running backs and receivers are generally a lot deeper, and B) tight ends just don’t usually generate as much hype as the other skill position players. 2017 was a banner year for tight ends. O.J. Howard, Evan Engram, and David Njoku were all taken in the first round, and then Gerald Everett and Adam Shaheen were taken in Round 2. The last time multiple tight ends were taken in the first round before that was 2006 when Vernon Davis and Marcedes Lewis were drafted.
So what I’m trying to do here is look at a position that doesn’t generate much buzz and pick the ones I think aren’t quite worthy of the noise they’re making. That being said, I found a couple tight ends who I feel fit that description. Here are my overvalued tight ends for the 2019 NFL Draft.
Noah Fant (Iowa)
For the tight end position, Fant and T.J. Hockenson are essentially the consensus top two prospects, and the craziest thing about that is that they both played for the same school. I love Fant’s game and I think he will ultimately make a great tight end in the NFL, but I see him as being overvalued when he’s being ranked above Hockenson.
Fant has the athletic edge over his college teammate. He’s faster and he can make more acrobatic plays, but I see Hockenson as a slightly more well rounded technical athlete. Hockenson has beaten Fant in what I believe will get him on the field more as a rookie, and that’s his blocking ability. Hockenson was an elite in-line blocker in college, which is one of the only areas where you can point to a weakness in Fant’s game. Hockenson constantly wins is blocks. He won’t be pushed around or thrown off by contact. He takes aggressive angles and has a great football IQ to be exactly where he needs to be and then wins with tenacity and a strong lower body.
It generally takes tight ends a few years to develop the technical skills they need to succeed in the NFL, and it’s rare that athletic ability alone will carry them to a dominant rookie season. Last year we saw Mike Gesicki. He blew everyone away at the combine and was one of the most freakish athletes we’ve ever seen at the position, but all that athleticism led to a rookie season with 22 catches for 202 yards on a team where there wasn’t elite competition for targets.
Fant certainly can make an impact immediately, but he will need to develop his in-line blocking skills and refine his route running before he becomes elite at the position. I think Hockenson has a half step on him in those areas, and he’s, therefore, my TE1 for the NFL Draft.
Jace Sternberger (Texas A&M)
I like Sternberger a lot as a raw talent, but I’ve seen him ranked as high as the third-best tight end prospect, which I cannot agree with. I think he needs a lot of development before he can reach his potential in the NFL. After two nothing years at Kansas followed by a stint in junior college, Sternberger basically came out of nowhere and was second in the NCAA in tight end receiving yards in his lone season at Texas A&M.
He is a fine athlete. He’s fast, he moves well, has a big catch radius, and is impressive after the catch. Much like Fant though, it would serve him well to develop his blocking and route running abilities. He definitely works hard for his blocks and his technique is admirable, but in many cases, he just gets overpowered. He may not have the strength to consistently win as an in-line blocker at the NFL level.
If he can improve on his ability to properly block in space, that would go a long way. His routes are also fine for college, but he will need to pay more attention to the detail of his footwork to create separation against NFL defenses. I believe Sternberger has it all there on paper, but he only played one real year in college, and learning the ropes for his first couple years as a pro could go a long way to help him ultimately play up to his maximum potential.