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2023 NFL Draft Prospects: Under-the-Radar Tight Ends

2023 NFL Draft Prospects: Under-the-Radar Tight Ends

With the 2022-2023 NFL season over, the attention of the football world has shifted to the 2023 NFL Draft. That includes fantasy footballers digging deep into the 2023 prospects to formulate rookie draft rankings.

While many analysts are still looking into the blue-chip prospects projected to go in the early rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft, we’re already digging a bit deeper here at FantasyPros. Today, we’re looking at under-the-radar NFL Draft targets at the tight end position.

As many of you already know, transitioning from college to the pros is more difficult on the tight-end position than most. You don’t see year-one production like you often do at running back and wide receiver. That is even more emphasized when looking at under-the-radar prospects that aren’t drafted in the first round of rookie fantasy football drafts.

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2023 NFL Draft Prospects: Under-the-Radar Tight Ends

Luke Musgrave (TE – Oregon State)

While there’s always some variance in each individual set of rankings, the majority of draft analysts have Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer, Utah’s Dalton Kincaid, and Georgia’s Darnell Washington at the top of their boards at the position. If you find one with a different top three, you’ll probably see Oregon State’s Luke Musgrave as the replacement.

Entering the season, hopes were high that Musgrave would have a breakout 2022 season. Although we saw glimpses of that in Oregon State’s first two games, Musgrave’s season-ending knee injury ended all hopes of a breakout.

That put a damper on his outlook, but all is not lost for the Oregon State product. Musgrave stood out at the 2023 Senior Bowl, and he has the size (6’6″, 250 lbs) and ball skills to massively outproduce his collegiate production. He’s also a more-capable blocker than given credit for, which could get him on the field as early as year one.

Sam Laporta (TE – Iowa)

Grading incoming rookie tight ends is one of the most difficult tasks for fantasy football managers. Grading a tight end from a dated, prehistoric offense with an atrocious quarterback is nearly impossible.

Despite the offensive structure around him, Iowa’s Sam LaPorta was a productive collegiate tight end. While he only scored five career touchdowns, LaPorta finished each of the past two seasons with 600+ receiving yards. That might not sound like a lot on paper, but it is when looking at the context of the situation.

No other Iowa pass-catcher reached 400 receiving yards in a single season over that same timeframe. Iowa’s coaching staff made a concerted effort to get their best playmaker involved, but LaPorta could only do so much under these circumstances.

Looking ahead, LaPorta has good hands and is a capable playmaker when given opportunities. It might take him a few years, but he can absolutely produce in the right system. He’s an ideal fourth or fifth-round rookie draft target for fantasy managers willing to be patient.

Davis Allen (TE – Clemson)

This article is supposed to highlight undervalued 2023 tight-end prospects, so we’re digging deeper with this one. You won’t find Clemson tight end Davis Allen regarded as a top-five tight end by many draft analysts, but he might go higher than anticipated in April’s NFL Draft.

Allen reminds me of a Hunter Long-type of tight end prospect. He doesn’t have one great trait but does everything well enough to stick around. He isn’t an excellent blocker, but he’s good enough. He isn’t exceptionally athletic, but he has positional versatility and makes plays when asked.

While Allen doesn’t profile as a game-changing tight-end prospect, he’s certainly worth a flier as a late-round dart throw in tight end premium leagues. At worst, he can be an effective TE2 that will score a couple of random touchdowns per season. That isn’t going to change the outlook of your fantasy team, but he could eventually be an effective bye-week fill-in when needed.

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