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Combine Preview: Tight End

Moving into the tight end position at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine.

NCAA Football: Iowa at Minnesota Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Some recent conversations in the Twittersphere have circled around the Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight ends and whether or not they will be able to produce under head coach Bruce Arians.

While Arians’ past has not produced the most prolific tight ends in the game, it’s also been argued he’s never had talent at the position like he does now with the Bucs possessing both O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate on their 2019 roster.

Still, questions persist, and many believe Brate may not be long for this squad if Arians doesn’t in fact intend to make the tight end as instrumental as it has been during the early part of Jameis Winston’s career.

If the team moves on from Brate, they may be in the market for a late-round tight end in the 2019 NFL Draft. Which means one of these young men may become a member of the Buccaneers whether we think they need one or not.

2019 COMBINE TIGHT ENDS

NAME SCHOOL
NAME SCHOOL
KENDALL BLANTON MISSOURI
KEENEN BROWN TEXAS ST.
C.J. CONRAD KENTUCKY
NOAH FANT IOWA
ZACH GENTRY MICHIGAN
DANIEL HELM DUKE
T.J. HOCKENSON IOWA
DAWSON KNOX MISSISSIPPI
ALIZE MACK NOTRE DAME
FOSTER MOREAU LSU
ISAAC NAUTA GEORGIA
JOSH OLIVER SAN JOSE STATE
DAX RAYMOND UTAH STATE
DREW SAMPLE WASHINGTON
IRV SMITH ALABAMA
KADEN SMITH STANFORD
JACE STERNBERGER TEXAS A&M
TOMMY SWEENEY BOSTON COLLEGE
KAHALE WARRING SAN DIEGO STATE
TREVON WESCO WEST VIRGINIA
CALEB WILSON UCLA

BEST IN CLASS: T.J. HOCKENSON, IOWA

One of two Iowa tight ends topping the list for this position group entering the combine, Hockenson is the crown jewel of this year’s class.

Tight ends have become increasingly important to many teams with the likes of Travis Kelce (Hockenson’s Pro Comp), Zach Ertz, O.J. Howard and more following in the receiving footsteps of more recent legends like Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates.

This generation of tight end is more athletic than their predecessors though, and Hockenson is continuing the trend for the 2019 group.

What might make the fact Iowa has two tight ends with first-round projections, is the fact both are early entrants into the draft.

MOST TO PROVE: ALIZE MACK, NOTRE DAME

Character concerns can torpedo a player’s draft stock faster than stiff hips or sloppy footwork.

For Mack, his play on the field isn’t exactly going to blow scouts out of the water, and his history of struggling to assimilate as a student athlete aren’t going to make him any more attractive.

In a very talented tight end class, Mack could have flirted with day two draft status, but unless he shows up to the combine with all the answers for his past issues and some solid athletic ability he’s going to have to wait a while to hear his name called on draft weekend.

MOST LIKELY BUCS DRAFT PICK: FOSTER MOREAU, LSU

NCAA Football: Rice at Louisiana State Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

If the Bucs offense isn’t going to rely on pass catching tight ends as much as it has the past few seasons, then maybe it’s time for the team to bring in a guy who is known for his blocking.

Foster Moreau is a tight end who fits the description, and if his Senior Bowl tape is any evidence, there may be a pass catcher hiding in there after all.

Again, this isn’t a big position of need for Tampa Bay, so Jason Licht will look to day three or even in the undrafted market to bolster this position for camp.

Moreau won’t be there as an undrafted guy, but he should still be there on day three, unless he shows up to the combine way more athletic than anyone expects.

Howard is already known as a capable blocker, but Brate is more of a receiver than blocking talent. Moreau is about as 180-degrees as it gets from Howard in this draft class, and having both could give the Bucs offense the tools to be as flexible as they want to be.