There are two unquestioned leaders in the tight end class for 2015 -- Minnesota's Maxx Williams and Miami's Clive Walford. Given that rookie tight ends rarely make a splash in fantasy football, I thought it'd be fitting to combine these two into one handy-dandy profile. Here's what I saw diving into their college tape.
» WIL: Great athleticism, body control
» WIL: Good hands; True red-zone threat
» WAL: Good wiggle, strength after catch
» WAL: Strong blocking ability
Williams: The son of a former NFL player and collegiate women's volleyball star, Williams has an athletic pedigree that scouts love. He showcased that with his natural hands and body control on several circus catches in college. Watch his diving, toe-dragging touchdown catch against Iowa for proof. Williams is a great possession receiver who knows how to move the chains (82 percent of his receptions resulted in a first down or touchdown), which is a trait teams seeking a pass-catching tight end will covet.
Walford: Walford is a bit bigger, and more of a traditional tight end than Williams. His blocking is much farther along, which will help him see the field earlier as a rookie. That isn't to say Walford is lacking in the passing game. Walford showed a great ability after the catch with a combination of strength and shiftiness. He can also beat defenders up the seam with speed and long arms.
» WIL: Not a crisp route runner
» WIL: Must improve using body to shield defenders
» WAL: Concentration can be an issue
» WAL: Not a game-changing athlete
Williams: Williams is entering the draft at the age of 20, so he's predictably a bit raw at the finer points of the game. If he can improve his route-running and ability to use his big body to shield defenders at the catch point, he'll be able to have a lot more success at the NFL level. It also wouldn't hurt for him to bulk up a bit, but that's why NFL teams have weight programs.
Walford: Many -- including NFL Media's Mike Mayock -- expected Walfrod to run faster than his 4.79-second 40-yard dash time at the combine. It was disappointing to hear Walford had tweaked a hamstring and couldn't try to beat that time at his pro day on April 1. Walford improved on his mental drops in 2014, but did have a bad fumble against Florida State. Even though his raw athleticism might not be top tier, that doesn't mean he can't be successful at the NFL level.
Ideal NFL fantasy fits
Green Bay is high on their third-round tight end from last year, Richard Rodgers, but Mike McCarthy (a former tight end himself) has notoriously loved stockpiling the position, and Aaron Rodgers wouldn't complain about having either of these talented young TEs in his arsenal. Atlanta is still searching for a replacement to Tony Gonzalez with Levine Toilolo toiling around and not emerging as a No. 1 option. Either Williams or Walford could have a quick path to success with Matt Ryan and company. With Julius Thomas now in Jacksonville, the Broncos could use an influx of young talent at the tight end position. Williams in particular would be an ideal fit to play the pass-catching role as the team already has capable blockers.
Early fantasy draft projection
As I stated at the top of this piece, rookie tight ends RARELY make an impact in fantasy football. Building on Michael Fabiano's stat from last February, 89 tight ends have been selected in the NFL draft over the last six years, and only four have finished in the top 20 in terms of fantasy scoring at their position. Williams and Walford aren't terrible options to target in the second or third round of rookie drafts in dynasty formats, but for the most part they are likely guys who can be left on waivers as they develop in 2015.