football-player football-score football-helmet football-ball Accuracy Arm-Strength Balance Ball-Security Ball-Skills Big-Play-Ability Block-Deconstruction Competitive-Toughness Core-Functional-Strength Decision-Making Discipline Durability Effort-Motor Elusivness Explosiveness Football-IQ Footwork Functional-Athleticism Hand-Counters Hand-Power Hand-Technique Hands Lateral-Mobility Leadership Length Mechanics Mobility Pass-Coverage-Ability Pass-Protection Pass-Sets Passing-Down-Skills Pocket-Manipulation Poise Power-at-POA Progressions RAC-Ability Range Release-Package Release Route-Running Run-Defending Separation Special-Teams-Ability-1 Versatility Vision Zone-Coverage-Skills Anchor-Ability Contact-Balance Man-Coverage-Skills Tackling Lifted Logic Web Design in Kansas City clock location phone email play chevron-down chevron-left chevron-right chevron-up facebook tiktok checkbox checkbox-checked radio radio-selected instagram google plus pinterest twitter youtube send linkedin search arrow-circle bell left-arrow right-arrow tdn-mark filled-play-circle yellow-arrow-circle dark-arrow-circle star cloudy snowy rainy sunny plus minus triangle-down link close drag minus-circle plus-circle pencil premium trash lock simple-trash simple-pencil eye cart
Dalton Kincaid NFL Draft
NFL Draft

Who Will Be 1st TE Taken In 2023 NFL Draft?

  • Justin Melo
  • March 28, 2023
  • Share

The race to be the first tight end drafted in the 2023 NFL Draft is as difficult to predict as any position group. The four starring contenders are Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer, Oregon State’s Luke Musgrave, Utah’s Dalton Kincaid, and Georgia’s Darnell Washington. All four are excellent prospects with a legitimate opportunity to earn first-round status.

BetOnline recently updated their positional odds for the 2023 NFL Draft. We’ve analyzed the field. The top five are as follows:



Mayer entered the 2022 college football campaign as the consensus top-ranked tight end. Mayer was outstanding, having met expectations by recording 67 receptions for 809 receiving yards and a single-season career-high nine touchdowns. So why are some now questioning Mayer’s ceiling as a prospect?

Mayer’s athletic upside has been up for debate. At the NFL Scouting Combine, Mayer posted a below-average 32.5-inch vertical and ran a 4.70 flat in the 40-yard dash. Can Mayer be a difference-maker as a pass-catcher despite possessing what some are calling a modest athletic profile?

I believe he can. People are overcomplicating the Mayer discussion. Mayer is a pro-ready dual-threat tight end prospect that blends size, ball skills, and physicality as a receiver with in-line blocking abilities. Mayer is the total package and should be drafted within the first 15 selections.


Kincaid has the highest pass-catching upside of any tight end in the 2023 NFL Draft. Kincaid is a nightmare assignment in coverage for opposing safeties and linebackers. Kincaid’s athleticism, ball skills, and route-running prowess routinely give him the upper hand throughout one-on-one matchups. 

Kincaid threatens every level of the field. His skill set will be in high demand for high-octane passing offenses looking to duplicate what the Kansas City Chiefs have in Travis Kelce. Those are lofty expectations, but if any of these tight ends develop into anything remotely mirroring Kelce, I believe it will be Kincaid.

A back injury unfortunately prevented Kincaid from performing at the NFL Scouting Combine or at Utah’s Pro Day. It could hamper Kincaid’s ability to threaten Mayer to become the first tight end drafted. It’s still possible, hence his No. 1 contender status. I’d feel better about it coming to fruition had Kincaid been healthy throughout the pre-draft process.


I’m a tad surprised to see Musgrave’s odd plummet to +1400. Musgrave has aced the pre-draft process. He was terrific at this year’s Senior Bowl, looking the part of a high-level tight end throughout practice sessions. Musgrave then ran an elite 4.61 40 and had a 36-inch vertical and 10-foot-5-inch broad jump in Indianapolis. Musgrave is an athletic outlier.

Musgrave can do damage as a traditional Y-tight end or by being placed in the slot. A healthy Musgrave offers an alternative option for teams who prefer an athletic specimen at the position but are scared off by Kincaid’s injury. That alone gives Musgrave a fighting chance to rival Mayer, Kincaid, and Washington. Musgrave’s pass-catching traits are undeniable.

Written By

Justin Melo