NFL Combine Preview: Tight Ends

All three of the Colts' tight ends will become free agents this offseason, so the Colts are keeping an eye on prospects at the position. Chris Steuber ranks and discusses the Combine invitees here!

1. Fred Davis, USC

Davis is a playmaking tight end who has the ability to stretch the field and make big plays. He’s a sure-handed offensive threat who participated in the Senior Bowl and who caught everything thrown his way in Mobile. His hands are his best asset, but scouts are interested in seeing his explosion off the line and his blocking technique at the Combine.

2. *Martellus Bennett, Texas A&M

Bennett is extremely athletic and has the potential to terrorize defenses for many years. He’s a former basketball standout with the Aggies and utilizes his skills from the court on to the football field. He has great size and hands and will impress scouts with his ability to make tough catches over the middle. The only downside to Bennett’s game is his blocking, but he’s still developing.

Purdue TE Dustin Keller leaps into against Eastern Illinois.
AP Photo/Michael Conroy

3. Dustin Keller, Purdue

A polished, all-around tight end, Keller has worked to become one of the best in the country. He started his career primarily as a blocking tight end, but due to his work ethic, he developed into an effective pass catcher. Keller will have to run well in Indianapolis to continue his rise on draft boards, but his ability will satisfy scouts.

4. John Carlson, Notre Dame

Carlson is a good prospect who struggled this past season only because of the inconsistent play at the quarterback position. He’s a sure-handed receiver who moves well laterally and sets up nicely in the middle of the field. He has the ability to stretch the field, and scouts want to see his true speed in the forty.

5. Brad Cottam, Tennessee

An imposing figure, Cottam has tremendous size, and he demonstrated excellent ability as a receiver at the Senior Bowl. He wasn’t used much in the passing game at Tennessee and was a major surprise in Mobile, displaying soft hands, speed, and good blocking technique. Cottam’s impressive performance will make him an intriguing prospect to watch in Indianapolis.

6. Martin Rucker, Missouri

Rucker was an exceptional tight end at Missouri and produced tremendous numbers, but there was cause for concern at the Senior Bowl. He didn’t run precise routes and struggled with his blocking. The Combine is a huge platform for Rucker as he’s being surpassed by some of the other tight ends who’ve performed well so far. If Rucker runs well and shows good strength, he’ll regain his position as one of the top three or four tight ends in the draft.

7. *Jermichael Finley, Texas

Finley’s decision to enter the NFL Draft was a bit of a surprise, but the former Texas Longhorn has a lot of ability and plenty of potential. He possesses excellent speed and can stretch the field, but he has to be more consistent as a receiver. He also has to work on his blocking and strength.

8. Kellen Davis, Michigan State

An intriguing prospect who displayed great athleticism and playmaking ability in Mobile, Davis has the size and strength to be a sleeper among this group. He’s never posted eye-popping numbers at Michigan State, but he was a guy in the passing game the team looked for down the stretch. Scouts showed a lot of interest in Davis at the Senior Bowl, and that will continue at the Combine.

9. Joe Jon Finley, Oklahoma

Finley is a solid, all-around player who doesn’t stand out in one category, but does a lot of things well on the football field. He’s not the fastest tight end, but he moves well laterally and positions himself well to make plays. He performed well at the East-West Shrine game and showed scouts that he can be an effective player in an offense. His speed is an issue entering the Combine.

10. Jacob Tamme, Kentucky

Tamme had a very disappointing showing at the Senior Bowl. He didn’t show much as a receiver or a blocker and looked soft running routes. He’s dropped a bit in the eyes of NFL personnel and finds himself as a mid-round selection at this point. He has to get stronger and run better routes to improve his stock. The Combine is his chance at redemption.

11. Joey Haynos, Maryland

12. Darrell Strong, Pittsburgh

13. Craig Stevens, California

14. Gary Barnidge, Louisville

15. Kolomona Kapanui, West Texas A&M

16. Derek Fine, Kansas

17. Tom Santi, Virginia

18. Adam Bishop, Nevada

* Underclassmen

A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999.

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