Now that we’ve taken a look at what the Minnesota Vikings currently have at the tight end position, it’s time to take a look at some of the prospects they could potentially select in the 2017 NFL Draft to fill that need. Again, these are just a few of the prospects that the Vikings could consider. I’m sure I’m going to miss some players at the position, and if I’ve missed one of your favorites you can bring them up in the comments.
With the lack of a first round pick, I don’t expect the Vikings to have any shot at drafting Alabama tight end O.J. Howard or Miami (FL) tight end David Njoku. They should be long gone by the time Minnesota gets on the clock. With that in mind, here are some of the other prospects that the Vikings could key in on when draft weekend comes around.
Gerald Everett, South Alabama - One of the better all-around athletes in this year’s draft, Everett played at a small school, but there’s a lot to like about him. While he’s going to win any awards for his blocking. . .not yet, anyway. . .he runs like a wide receiver and has the ability to create mismatch problems right away. He’s going to be more of a “flex” tight end than an in-line guy, but that would make him a pretty solid complement to Kyle Rudolph.
Evan Engram, Mississippi - Another player that’s more of a “flex” type of tight end, and could potentially even wind up being listed as a wide receiver in the NFL. Engram has the ability to move all around the formation and runs good enough routes where he should find himself open a lot. Engram is a lot like Jordan Reed, and if that’s his ceiling, he would be a nice fit for the Vikings’ offense as well.
Bucky Hodges, Virginia Tech - If you’re looking for blocking, Hodges is definitely not your guy. His blocking ability is basically non-existent. But he’s got freakish size (6’6”, 245) and speed (he ran a 4.57 40-yard dash at this year’s Scouting Combine). He’s going to need some polish as a route runner, but would be a dangerous red zone weapon right away because of his size.
Jake Butt, Michigan - I like Jake Butt. . .and I can not lie. Butt would likely have been higher on this list, but he has the question of the torn ACL that he suffered in Michigan’s bowl game. He might be in danger of starting the season on the PUP list, but when he returns would be an asset. He’s not the dynamic receiver that any of the three players I’ve already listed are, but he’s no slouch.
Jordan Leggett, Clemson - Another big target, checking in at 6’5” and around 260 pounds, Leggett was originally recruited as a wide receiver before making the switch to receiver. He has the potential to be another “move” sort of tight end, but there is one red flag with Leggett that I can see. According to both of the “dead tree media” draft guides I have in front of me, he acquired the nickname “Lazy Leggett” while he was at Clemson. I wasn’t there and I’ve never seen the guy practice or work out, but it sounds like any coach that gets their hands on him might have to give him some extra motivation.
Adam Shaheen, Ashland - Another small-school prospect, Shaheen is a wide load at 6’5” and 275 pounds. He’s a converted basketball player and hasn’t been playing football for very long. He put up some pretty big receiving numbers, hauling in 26 touchdown passes in the past two years, and while he isn’t terrible as a blocker, he still needs significant work. Shaheen is going to be a bit of a project due to the level of competition he’s faced and his relative lack of football experience, but if the right coach gets a hold of him, he’s got the physical tools to be something special in the NFL.
Jonnu Smith, Florida International - Smith made the sort of news that nobody wants to make last season, as he missed some time after his then-girlfriend dumped a pot of boiling water over his head. Smith doesn’t have the size that some of the other prospects we’ve listed have, but he’s a very fluid athlete and has the ability to make the contested catch. He’s also a pretty good blocker, making him a better in-line candidate than most of the players listed so far.
Jeremy Sprinkle, Arkansas - One of the more well-rounded tight ends in this year’s class, Sprinkle is a bit of an old-school throwback. He’s more than just an oversized receiver, as his blocking abilities are among the top of this tight end group. That’s not to say he isn’t a quality receiving option, but compared to the rest of this group, his blocking skills stand out. He also had a well-publicized off-field issue recently, as he was the player that was arrested for shoplifting at a Belk store when the Razorbacks were preparing for the Belk Bowl.
Later Rounds (Rounds 5-7)
Michael Roberts, Toledo - Definitely not a burner, and not a great blocker for his size. Still, Roberts is an intriguing target in the passing game because of his route-running abilities and huge hands. He lined up as an in-line tight end, in the slot, and in the backfield for the Rockets, showing he has the versatility to move around a bit.
Eric Saubert, Drake - Yet another small-school prospect, Saubert is very good after the catch. He spent a lot of time being split out and doesn’t have a lot of in-line tight end experience, but his abilities as a receiver are certainly intriguing.
Cole Hikutini, Louisville - Hikutini doesn’t have any specific traits that stand out, but he doesn’t really have any significant weaknesses, either. With all the athletic tight ends in this year’s group, Hikutini doesn’t really stand out, but he’s certainly a name to keep an eye on late in the draft.
That’s a look at some. . .yes, some. . .of the tight ends the Minnesota Vikings could potentially take a look at in this year’s draft. If there’s anyone I missed or anyone you like more than the others, feel free to talk about them in the comments below.