2006 Draft Preview: Tight Ends

After several years of top-heavy drafts which offered little depth, 2005 looks as though it will contribute both quality and quantity at the tight end position. Should the top underclassmen enter next year's event, it is quite possible that as many as four players from this position could break into the first round.

If teams are looking for a starting tight end, they should look to the Pac Ten conference, which could have as many as five NFL first teamers.

Marcedes Lewis of UCLA has all the makings of a star. Consistently making receptions in the defensive backfield, Lewis presents mismatch problems for opponents as linebackers are not fast enough to stay with him down the field while secondary players are too small to cover him. And on top of all this, the blocking skills of Lewis are ever-improving.

Oregon's Tim Day is another big-play tight end with natural pass-catching skills. Day has been productive the past two years as both a blocker and receiver. The fact he comes from a program that historically puts quality tight ends into the NFL also helps.

Joe Newton of rival Oregon State is also a prospect with a bright future. At 6-foot-6, 260 pounds, Newton displays the speed and ability to beat opponents deep. Natural catching the ball, Newton also has the frame and strength to be a productive blocker. Only a junior, he already sits high on the draft lists of NFL teams.

Washington State's Troy Bienemann and junior Dominique Byrd of USC are the final pair of standout tight ends from this conference. Both are exceptional pass catchers with solid size and adequate speed for the next level.

Joel Klopfenstein of Colorado is another pass-catching threat who runs well for a tight end and offers the quarterback a consistent target. Klopfenstein presently sits as a first-day prospect.

A second Big 12 prospect, Matt Herian of Nebraska could easily stand atop this list were it not for a serious injury. Herian was a standout player in '03 as both a pass catcher and blocker. His ability to get down the field and beat defenses deep on a consistent basis was eye-catching, and Herian's blocking also stood out. After severely breaking his leg early last season, Herian was limping around the Cornhuskers spring practices this March. Chances are Herian will sit the year out and take a redshirt season in '05.

Other tight ends who could impact next April's draft are Tim Massaquoi and Tyler Ecker of Michigan, Georgia's Leonard Pope, as well as North Carolina State's T.J. Williams and Charles Davis from Purdue.

Top 20 Tight End Prospects

Name School
Marcedes Lewis   UCLA
Joe Newton* Oregon State
Timothy Day Oregon
Matt Herian Nebraska
Dominique Byrd* USC
Troy Bienemann Washington State
Joe Klopfenstein Colorado
Tim Massaquoi Michigan
Charles Davis Purdue
Tyler Ecker Michigan
Scott Chandler* Iowa
Lee Burghgraef Arizona State
Andrew Clarke Toledo
Ben Bandel* Washington
David Thomas Texas
Bobby Williamson Clemson
Ryan Hamby Ohio State
Josh Bailey West Virginia
Melvin Bryant* Illinois
Matt Spaeth* Minnesota

*denotes underclassmen

Niners Digest Top Stories