2020 NFL Draft: Under-the-Radar Tight Ends
Tight ends have become a very influential part of today’s NFL. The ones with the greatest impact are able to affect the game with and without the ball in their hands. With that being said, tight end is not a position that would rank highly on the order of most to least important positions when building a team. It is because of that reason that being able to find under-the-radar or undervalued players at that position is important. It allows you to spend earlier draft capital on more important positions unless a team is in a spot where tight end is one of the few needs that a very good team has.
First things first, to make my list of undervalued tight ends, the player has to be widely ranked outside of the top three at the position. Three doesn’t seem like a big number, but tight end is rarely a very deep position. Another way to make the list is if the player is considered to be no more than a third-round pick at best. Now let’s get into the undervalued tight ends at this point in the NFL Draft process.
Adam Trautman (Dayton)
The most undervalued tight end of the 2020 draft is Adam Trautman from Dayton. Trautman is a player that I have been pounding the table for since I scouted him just before the start of 2020 Senior Bowl week.
I actually have Trautman as my best tight end available in my positional rankings. Yet, Trautman seems to be ranked all over the place for other analysts. He is predominantly ranked between third- and fifth-best available and sometimes even lower. I have a hard time figuring out why.
My biggest concern was his blocking ability. After watching his film, I felt he was more of a finesse blocker who was better at using his athleticism to get in front of defenders and wall them off instead of driving them. Then Trautman went down to Mobile and proved time after time that he can handle the strength of higher competition. From then on, Trautman became my best tight end in the draft. He is also a very good receiving threat.
During his career at Dayton, Trautman posted impressive stats in back-to-back seasons. As a junior, Trautman had 40 receptions, 595 yards, and nine touchdowns. He followed that up with a season that left Jim Nagy and the rest of the Senior Bowl scouting staff no choice but to invite him to the game. Trautman posted 70 receptions, 916 yards, and 14 touchdowns this season as a senior. He has a plethora of examples on film of his field-stretching and route-running abilities, athleticism in the open field, and toughness to bring down defenders with the ball in his hands.
I hope as the draft season continues and the tight ends hit the field at the combine that Trautman will work his way into the ranking that I believe he deserves. Until then, he is my most underrated tight end available in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Josiah Deguara (Cincinnati)
Another undervalued tight end so far in the 2020 draft cycle is Cincinnati tight end Josiah Deguara. He is another prospect who looks like he has the traits of a complete tight end because he is a threat in both the receiving and blocking aspects of the position. I actually just recently watched Deguara and I came away surprised that he hasn’t received more publicity as one of the better prospects at the tight end position.
The first thing I always check when looking at tight ends is if he can line up in-line and win as a blocker in the run game. Based on my film study of Deguara, I believe that he can. He plays with a good burst off the line that allows him to get into the chest of his opponent so he can control him and drive him off the line and open up running lanes. I also really like his athleticism in the run game as he can come down the line of scrimmage quickly to kick out edge defenders, creating cutback lanes for the running backs.
After scouting a player’s blocking ability, I then move on to his impact in the passing game. Deguara’s athleticism shows up in his receiving game just as much as it does in his blocking. He is a smooth route runner who gets in and out of his breaks quickly. I like Deguara’s ability to shield the ball from defenders with his body and his strong running with the ball in his hands. I believe that if he would have been used more in the passing game, he would be ranked higher and not a part of this article. In 2018, he had 38 receptions, 468 yards, and five touchdowns. He followed that up by going for 39 receptions, 504 yards, and seven touchdowns during the 2019 season.
As for his ranking, I have Deguara currently as my sixth-best tight end. As a consensus, he seems to be more around TE10. I think he will begin his climb during the scouting combine as he shows off the athleticism that he didn’t get to display much because of his smaller receiving workload compared to other prospects.
Trautman and Deguara are perfect targets for teams looking to steal a good prospect on draft weekend. Both players are ranked lower in the consensus of draft analysts than I have them. If the league follows the consensus, Trautman could be had in the late-second round and Deguara could be available late on day three of the draft. Both ranges would be steals based on my rankings of the two players. Tight end is the perfect place to steal an impact player and this draft is supplying us with a couple options. I look forward to seeing which teams attempt to steal these prospects come April.