With the first wave of free agency over, NFL teams are turning more attention to setting their boards in anticipation of the 2015 NFL Draft. With that in mind, College Football 24/7 is releasing Lance Zierlein's top-10 lists at each position -- today it is tight end. To view Zierlein's full scouting report on each prospect in NFL.com's Draft Tracker, click on the player's name.
Zierlein's bottom line: Pass-catching, move tight end with straight-line play speed and an ability to stretch defenses deep. Williams comes from NFL bloodlines and has the self confidence often found in a former player's son, but he needs to improve his route running in order to become a more complete receiving threat. Williams led all college tight ends with nine explosive catches (25-plus yards) in 2014 and should be an early target for teams looking for pass-catching weapons.
Zierlein's bottom line: A combo tight end who can help a team in the running game and through the air, Walford can be moved around the field. He lacks the elite athletic traits to be a game-changer at the position, but he is becoming a premium blocker. With teams looking for versatile tight ends to create matchups in two-TE sets, Walford's stock should be high.
Zierlein's bottom line: Has mismatch-caliber size, but lack of vertical talent and below-average hands might negate the size to an extent. Funchess was used outside and inside at Michigan and had success from the slot. He has the feel of a hybrid player who can be a big guy at wide receiver or a mismatch nightmare as a move tight end with more weight on his rangy frame.
Zierlein's bottom line: Anderson's athleticism and play speed is what NFL teams dream of when looking for tight ends to threaten vertically and create matchup problems underneath. While he needs to add more weight to his frame, Anderson shows the blocking fundamentals to be considered a legitimate combination tight end in the NFL. Anderson's biggest concern on draft day and beyond looks like it could be his recurring triceps injuries.
Zierlein's bottom line: O'Leary has the competitive spirit and toughness that teams look for in a dual-threat tight end, but he lacks the physical traits. Based on how Florida State used him, he is an easy projection to an H-back spot where he should be an effective move-blocker and pass-catcher.
Zierlein's bottom line: Heuerman's production fell off in 2014 after dealing with a foot injury and quarterback change. He is a vertical pass-catching tight end who can be moved all over the formation. Scouts seem to be unusually intrigued and excited about Heuerman's NFL potential.
Zierlein's bottom line: Tall, athletic tight end with the frame to add more muscle and the athleticism to get open in space. Kroft is an aggressive blocker who can help the running game win on the edges, but he also possesses the quickness to get open in space and make a play after the catch. Kroft's size, athleticism and competitiveness as a blocker make him a scheme fit for most offenses and he could be one of the top tight ends to come from this draft class.
Zierlein's bottom line: Underutilized in the passing game while at Notre Dame. Strong understanding and execution as a run blocker with the physical traits to be a tough matchup in the passing game. Still raw as a receiver and will need more individual work with a position coach on the next level. College production belies his pro potential.
Zierlein's bottom line: Dedicated run blocker who is willing to scrap it out with the man across from him on each snap. Telfer has average size for an NFL tight end and is unlikely to dazzle teams as a pass catcher, but his willingness and effectiveness as a run blocker could have teams looking at him as their run-blocking tight end for "12 personnel" packages.
Zierlein's bottom line: The production is impressive. It warrants attention and accolades, but the tape shows an alarming inconsistency of effort and competitive fire. Pruitt won't be considered a plus athlete for the position by NFL standards, so he must crank up the motor and keep it running -- especially when asked to block since that might be his way onto a team.