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Fantasy Football Rookie Report: Tight ends

Jake Butt, Michigan

Analysis: Butt's tape reveals a player whose quality on the college level should translate to decent success in the pro game. But for anyone expecting the Michigan man to evolve into a Greg Olsen/Travis Kelce-type player in the NFL will likely be disappointed. Butt has good hands but doesn't display the same athleticism as some of the top tight ends in this draft class. Similarly, his skills as a blocker leave something to be desired. Combine that with an ACL injury that happened near the end of his final college season and Butt faces a delayed climb to the ranks of fantasy relevance.

Evan Engram, Mississippi

Analysis: Just watch a few plays of Engram's 2016 Ole Miss tape and the name Jordan Reed immediately springs to mind. Much like Washington's tight end, Engram looks smooth and easy in his routes. His athleticism offers matchup issues, though Engram has a tendency to play smaller than his size. It's hard to imagine Engram on the field outside of passing situations since he doesn't offer much as a blocker. Yet he does have the skillset to be an impact player fairly early in his career and will be a popular option in drafts of all formats.

Gerald Everett, South Alabama

Analysis: Those who love tight ends who used to play basketball (see: Antonio Gates, Jimmy Graham, Tony Gonzalez, etc. etc.), need to give Everrett a look. He's a fluid athlete in space, making difficult body adjustments and moves after the catch look routine. He isn't very precise in any of the finer details of playing the position, but his ceiling as a pass-catcher and difference maker feels very high. He might need a year to marinate at the NFL level, but Everett could be a fun player to follow in a few short years.

Bucky Hodges, Virginia Tech

Analysis: Hodges is hard to classify. He's either a big receiver or a small tight end -- something that has earned him comparisons to Carolina's Devin Funchess. Much like Funchess, Hodges is still learning the position but hasn't quite shown the raw talent to overcome his learning curve. While at Virginia Tech, Hodges lined up all over the formation and even took a few handoffs. However his hands and run-after-catch ability won't wow anyone. With such a steep learning curve to success, it will be several years (if ever) before Hodges will make a fantasy impact.

O.J. Howard, Alabama

Analysis: As yet another example of the embarrassment of riches that exists in the Alabama footall program, the ultra-talented O.J. Howard was just the team's third-leading receiver -- and arguably its fifth-best offensive option -- in 2016. In an era where so many teams are seeking a "Move" tight end, Nick Saban had one stashed away in Tuscaloosa. Howard did show up big in the Tide's biggest games, tallying nine catches for 314 yards and three touchdowns in Alabama's last two national championship appearances (accounting for 18.2 percent of his career receiving yards). Say it with me ... rookie tight ends rarely make an impact in fantasy. However, that changed slightly last season with Hunter Henry and even Austin Hooper making splash plays. Howard looks like he could be the next in that line and should draw interest in all formats.

David Njoku, Miami

Analysis: Njoku is next in the line of athletic tight ends to emerge from Miami. Teams seeking speed and explosiveness at the position will want to give his name a call on draft day. Njoku remains raw at the position and is prone to some painful drops, but his raw potential is tantelizing. He's capable of using his size, can stretch the seem and pull away from defenders, and has agility to make people miss in space. Rookie tight ends rarely deliver in fantasy, but Njoku is certainly a name to watch if he falls into a high-powered passing attack. He's a great dynasty stash as well for a team looking for a developmental prospect.

Mike Roberts, Toledo

Analysis: Roberts was a legit pass-catching weapon for the Rockets, lining up all over the formation and snagging 16 touchdown catches in his final season. He isn't blessed with a lot of wiggle but he does know how to get open. As a blocker, his ability leaves something to be desired but he's good enough to get the job done. Knowing how to find space in the middle of a defense is a trait that any NFL team can use and will eventually serve Roberts very well at the pro level. Unfortunately, you'll have to wait a couple of years to see that production for your fantasy squad.

Jeremy Sprinkle, Arkansas

Analysis: Sprinkle lined up primarily in-line with some snaps in the slot, consistent with his skills as a blocker. He shows good hands, but his long, loping strides won't help him separate from defenders. In the right matchups, his size could cause sme problems. Sprinkle won't be on the list of tight ends that you can expect to produce in a big way this season. However, his blocking ability is likely to get him on the field with a chance to eventually grow into a larger role in an NFL offense. He should have some late-round value in dynasty rookie drafts.

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