Building the 2020 Prototype: Tight End

Photo: USA TODAY Sports - Nelson Chenault

Throughout the month of July, I’m taking a much closer look at some of the 2020 NFL draft’s top prospects. In doing this, I’m creating a new series called “Building the Prototype.” Breaking down each position into the primary traits I specifically look for, I’m going to match 2020 prospects to those traits. Thus, I am essentially building the perfect draft prospect at each position in this upcoming class. In the fourth installment of this series, I put the next crop of tight end prospects under the microscope. I have links to the other position groups of this series at the bottom of the page.

AA/Vertical Threat: Brycen Hopkins, Purdue & Grant Calcaterra, Oklahoma

I’m cheating here by picking two prospects, but both Brycen Hopkins and Grant Calcaterra are two of my favorite tight ends in this class for a specific reason: They can move. Both are legit 4.6 athletes and operate like wide receivers in the open field. Often times, both Oklahoma and Purdue moved them all over the field to take advantage of matchups. Hopkins and Calcaterra averaged more than 15 yards per catch last season, and I think both are the two players I would circle back to when the Combine rolls around next February.  

Route Running: Mitchell Wilcox, USF

Wilcox almost declared for the 2019 NFL draft, mostly because of how effective he is in the passing game. His timing and nuance as a route runner makes him look like a wide receiver on the field. Wilcox is incredibly smooth and fluid as an athlete, so he has the ability to sink his hips and waste little motion in his route breaks. In addition, Wilcox is also the best tight in this class at using false cuts and head fakes to keep defenders on their toes. I don’t know if he will be a productive blocker at the next level because of his frame, but has WR-like smoothness in the open field.

Catch Point Prowess: Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri

At 6’5, 260, Albert Okwuegbunam boxes out defenders at the catch point like a power forward. His combination of length, size, and leaping ability makes it incredibly difficult for defenders to get in position. Quite simply, there aren’t too many passes that are thrown outside his catch radius. I have some concerns with Okwuegbunam’s game as a blocker and overall route runner, but I have no doubt he is in his own league when it comes to going up and getting the football.  

In-Line Blocking: Jared Pinkney, Vanderbilt

There isn’t a tight end in this class that separates himself as far and away the best in-line blocker, but in terms of size, tools, and energy, I really like what Vanderbilt’s Jared Pinkney offers. Play strength and competitive toughness flash each time I watch Pinkney on tape. If he can become more consistent with his pad level and hand technique, he has all the tools to develop into a very good in-line blocker. Not to mention, he also has legitimate traits as a pass catcher. I’m a big fan.  

2020 Prototype Series:

Quarterback

Running Back

Wide Receiver

Written By:

Jonah Tuls

NFL Draft Analyst

NFL Draft Analyst for The Draft Network. As heard on ESPN radio, Sirius XM, and the Sports Illustrated podcast. Texas Tech University journalism graduate.

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