Draft capital is the single most important stat for projecting NFL production for rookies, and the goal of this “NFL Draft Stock” series is to accurately project where prospects WILL be selected in the 2020 NFL Draft, not where I think these prospects SHOULD be drafted. I’m using consensus mock draft data, player production and efficiency stats, and historical draft data to guide my draft capital projections. You’ll probably think your favorite draft prospect is projected too low, but the reality is there are more legit draft prospects than actual draft picks.
TEs Picked on Average Since 2010
The plan is to update the projections every few weeks. And with each update, my projections will become more precise. The goal of the first round of projections is to separate prospects by which day they’ll be drafted, but I’ll get down to the actual pick eventually. As always, hit me up on Twitter @HaydenWinks if you have any questions.
2020 Tight Ends
Projected Draft Day
Jared Pinkney (Vanderbilt, SR) - Day 1 Projection
Usage: 68% of Jared Pinkney’s offensive snaps were inline, per PFF.
Athleticism: Jared Pinkney (6’4/250) was a three-star recruit with average athletic measurables (5.06 forty, 31-inch vertical), but Pinkney appears to have made improvements since coming to college. Pinkney now has enough mobility to win underneath (his 6.8 YAC is above-average) and has enough long-speed to win over the top (12.25 YPT on 20+ yard targets). Overall, I expect him to have slightly above-average athletic scores at the Combine.
Production: Jared Pinkney had nearly identical freshman and sophomore seasons (around 22-279-3 each season), which is enough early-age production to get my attention. In 2018, Pinkney really broke out, putting up most receiving yards (770), the second-most receiving touchdowns (7), and the third-most receptions (50) in 2018 among returning FBS tight ends. His overall production will be close to the best in the class, especially if Pinkney reaches my 47-599-7 receiving line projection this year.
Blocking Ability: Jared Pinkney was given average pass- and run-blocking grades from PFF, crediting him with three quarterback pressures on 61 pass-blocking reps. #OnTape, Pinkney shows effort -- every coach in America says that’s half the battle -- but he definitely straight-up misses blocks. It’s arguably his worst trait, which is a compliment because Pinkney isn’t a terrible blocker.
Albert Okwuegbunam (Missouri, JR) - Day 2 Projection
Usage: 60% of Albert Okwuegbunam’s offensive snaps were inline, per PFF.
Athleticism: Albert Okwuegbunam (6’4/264) has NFL size, but I’d much rather see him play closer to 250 pounds because #OnTape he can look sloppy moving in short areas. The stats also back that up: Okwuegbunam only averaged 4.6 yards after the catch and averaged 5.35 YPT on targets within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. With that said, Albert O looks fluid once he gets going and had some highlight catches while laying out. Overall, his athleticism confuses me because he looks great sometimes (12.65 YPT on targets at least 10 yards beyond the LOS) and questionable at other times.
Production: Albert Okwuegbunam’s production profile is really, really strong. He had 415 yards and 11 touchdowns as a freshman before racking up 466 yards and six touchdowns last year. Okwuegbunam did have an easier time playing with a second-round quarterback, however, so I’m curious to see how he plays with a more standard Power 5 quarterback in 2019. I project Okwuegbunam for a 42-466-5 receiving line across 12 regular season games. That would lock him into the first three rounds.
Blocking Ability: Albert Okwuegbunam isn’t a good blocker -- once again, it’s a short-area movement issue -- and PFF agreed by slapping an average to below-average run-blocking grade on a large sample from last year. I don’t envision Okweugbunam to be much of a blocker in the NFL given his strength as a downfield receiver, so his lack of blocking isn’t that big of a deal to me as long as his NFL coaching staff puts him in spots where he wins.
Colby Parkinson (Stanford, JR) - Day 2 Projection
Usage: 65% of Colby Parkinson’s offensive snaps were in the slot, per PFF.
Athleticism: Colby Parkinson (6’7/244) averaged 5.3 yards after the catch per PFF, a slightly above-average mark for the position, largely thanks to his athletic ability. Parkinson was an above-average high school recruit athletically, showing 4.86 speed and a 31.5-inch vertical. #OnTape, Parkinson runs well once he gets some time to churn those long legs and has enough body control to win contested catches. Parkinson could get a little stronger to lose that wirey look, but I prefer prospects being too light to being too heavy.
Production: Colby Parkinson was stuck behind Kaden Smith and Dalton Schultz as a freshman, but he had a breakout season last year as the No. 2 tight end. Parkinson had a few long touchdowns, leading to a solid 29-485-7 season as a sophomore. That’s the early-age production my models love. This year, I project Parkinson to pick up the most yards (642) and to score the most touchdowns (9) among tight ends. Analytically, he’ll be one of the best prospects in the class.
Blocking Ability: Colby Parkinson received above-average run-blocking grades from PFF, but it’s notable that he was credited with zero pass-blocking reps in 2018. That’s likely a coaching staff’s decision, so that’s a minor red flag. With that said, there’s really no reason to have a tight end with Parkinson’s receiving skills to be stuck in the trenches, and I anticipate some blocking improvements once he fills out his frame.
Grant Calcaterra (Oklahoma, JR) - Day 2 Projection
Usage: 84% of Grant Calcaterra’s offensive snaps were in the slot, per PFF.
Athleticism: Grant Calcaterra (6/4/231) is more athletic than his 3.8 YAC would suggest. Going into college, Calcaterra was the best athlete of the group. He ran a 4.64 forty, had a 4.04 short shuttle (that would have been the best time among tight ends in last year’s Combine), and jumped 35.8 inches. All added up, Calcaterra had the best SPARQ score. I’m expecting Calcaterra to test very well across the board at the Combine.
Production: Grant Calcaterra only played in five games as a freshman, but he had a decent season with Kyler last year as a sophomore (26-396-6). That kept him on track for an NFL selection, but he’ll need a bigger season in 2019 to sneak into the top-40 picks. For the record, I project Calcaterra for a 31-470-4 receiving line across 12 regular season games, which would make him a rock-solid Day 2 given his athleticism.
Blocking Ability: To my surprise, PFF gave Grant Calcaterra respectable run-blocking grades, but the sample was limited, which is probably a coaching decision. Overall, Calcaterra was plenty of room for improvement here and his blocking upside is somewhat limited given his size. Good thing he’ll rarely be asked to block.
Hunter Bryant (Washington, JR) - Day 2 Projection
Usage: 39% of Hunter Bryant’s offensive snaps were inline and 38% were in the slot, per PFF.
Athleticism: Hunter Bryant (6’2/241) is the second or third best athlete of the tight ends I’m writing up today, only trailing Grant Calcaterra and maybe Jake Ferguson. Just watch the video below. Bryant should be one of the fastest in the class -- his 4.82 high school forty was strong -- and he has underrated strength, as evidenced by his leading high school power throw. However, his best athletic trait is his fluidity in space (career 7.6 YAC). Simply put, Bryant is a natural athlete.
Production: Hunter Bryant had a strong freshman season in 2017 when he posted a 22-231-1 season, but injuries have spoiled huge seasons in two-straight years. He only played in nine games in that freshman season and only played in five games last year. In those five games, Bryant showed he hadn’t lost a step by averaging 21.6 yards per catch. This year, I project Bryant for a 40-459-5 receiving line. If Bryant doesn’t have a big 2019 season, I’ll likely be out on Bryant as a Day 2 prospect.
Blocking Ability: Hunter Bryant’s athleticism makes him a capable blocker, but his size (6’2/244) limits his blocking ceiling. That’s alright, though. Bryant shouldn’t be asked to block too often -- his strength is pass-catching -- and he can block well enough if it’s just a few snaps per game. Throwing him in the trenches isn’t putting him positions where he can win.
Jake Ferguson (Wisconsin, rSO) - Day 2 Projection
Usage: 56% of Jake Ferguson’s offensive snaps were inline and 42% were in the slot, per PFF.
Athleticism: Jake Ferguson (6’5/250) only averaged 3.8 yards after the catch last year, which isn’t a reflection of his true athleticism and speed. Ferguson recorded a 4.73 forty in high school -- T.J. Hockenson just ran a 4.70 at the Combine for reference -- so he should flirt with a 4.60 time when he declares for the draft. But his best athletic trait might end up being his agility. In high school, Ferguson recorded a 4.15-second short shuttle, which would have been the second-best score among tight ends at the Combine last year. If you want to see him in action on a basketball court, check out this video of Ferguson (and other 2020 NFL Draft prospects) competing in a dunk contest.
Production: Jake Ferguson didn’t play as a true freshman, but he was awesome last year when he picked up 36 receptions, 456 yards, and four touchdowns in a rough passing offense. His market share metrics are all strong, so he’s one season away from checking boxes analytically. I project Ferguson for a 42-514-6 receiving line this year, which definitely puts him in the Day 2 range.
Blocking Ability: Jake Ferguson was an average blocker last year, but he was also really young and inexperienced. I’m expecting him to take a step forward in 2019 when he’s stronger and has his technique nailed down. Ferguson should be a capable blocker eventually.
Day 3 Projections
Harrison Bryant (Florida Atlantic, SR)
Mitchell Wilcox (South Florida, SR)
Matt Bushman (BYU, JR)
Joey Magnifico (Memphis, SR)
Brycen Hopkins (Purdue, SR)
Adam Trautman (Dayton, SR)
C.J. O’Grady (Arkansas, SR)
Jared Rice (Fresno, SR)
Dalton Keene (Virginia Tech, JR)
Jacob Breeland (Oregon, SR)
Cole Kmet (Notre Dame, JR)
For more write-ups, read my Top 25 College Tight Ends column.
Winks’ Preseason Top 10
1. Colby Parkinson (Day 1 grade)
2. Jared Pinkney (Day 1 grade)
3. Grant Calcaterra (Day 2 grade)
4. Albert Okwuegbunam (Day 2 grade)
5. Jake Ferguson (Day 2 grade)
6. Hunter Bryant (Day 2 grade)
7. Harrison Bryant (Day 2 grade)
8. Brycen Hopkins (Day 3 grade)
9. Matt Bushman (Day 3 grade)
10. Joey Magnifico (Day 3 grade)