The Bills have Charles Clay, Nick O’Leary, Logan Thomas and Jason Groom. I was impressed with Groom last year in the preseason. I’ll bet with a year of growth in the Bills strength and conditioning program he will be ready to contribute this year. Logan Thomas should be better as he has been transitioning from QB the past two years. I think he could be a dangerous receiver for us if he gets the snaps. Charles Clay and Nick O’Leary have proven their worth the past four years. Clay has probably been the Bills most reliable receiver those years. I don’t see a great need this year at Tight End for the Bills, but I am sure Brandon Beane is always looking to upgrade and stockpile future talent as well.
This years Tight End prospects does not have first round talent like OJ Howard and David Ngoko or a blazing speedster like Evan Engram as we had in the 2017 Draft. However, there are some solid prospects for the 2nd and 3rd day of the draft. Here is my evaluation of this years tight ends, based mostly on game action I observed.
1)Hayden Hurst, S.C., 6’4″, 250lbs, 4.67 40, 7.19 3cone. I saw Hurst in a game in 2016 before I knew who he was and I wrote his name on a piece of scrap paper so I wouldn’t forget this guy. He’s older due to his years in minor league baseball, but he doesn’t have football wear and tear in those baseball years either. He’s fast, runs great routes and has outstanding hands. He will win the majority of contested catches. He is not a great blocker, but he makes a real effort and is a decent blocker. He made a lot of big plays for South Carolina the past two years. Probably goes in the 2nd round.
2)Mike Gesicki, Pa. St., 6’5″, 247 lbs., 4.54 40, 22reps, 41.5″vertical, 129″broad, 6.76 3cone, 4.1 short shuttle. Whosever the strength and conditioning coach is at Penn. St., give him or her a raise. This guy is freakishly athletic. He is another great receiving tight end like Hurst. He also is a decent blocker, but both Hurst and Gesicki are big play receiving tight ends who will often line up split wide. The knock on Gesicki is his inconsistent lack of production, but Pa. States number one game plan last year was give the ball to Saquan Barkley and everyone else block and Gesicki did block well especially down field for Barkley. When Penn. State needed to throw the ball, Gesicki was always in the game plan. He will be a real weapon for some team. If he or Hurst are around in the 2nd round for the Bills, I would think seriously of grabbing one of them.
3)Mark Andrews, Oklahoma, 6’5″, 254 lbs., 4.67 40, 17 reps. I thought Andrews was Baker Mayfield’s favorite receiver, especially on third done. They made a lot of big play together in big games for Okla. the past 3 years. Andrews is also an outstanding receiving tight end with good speed, great size and great hands. He runs great routes and Mayfield was almost always able to put the ball where Andrews could make the big play. Andrews is better as an in-line tight end than Gesicki or Hurst, but Andrews often lined up split wide or in an H-Back position also. Andrews will probably go in the 2nd round also. He will be a productive pro.
4)Ian Thomas, Indiana, 6’31/2″, 256 lbs., 4.74 40, 7.15 3cone, 4.2 short shuttle. He is big, muscular but long and lean at the same time. When he gets going he has that long, loping gait that reminds me of a deer running. He improved dramatically while at Indiana. He went from afterthought to the go-to player in 3 years. I think he will continue to improve. He runs good routes and is hard to bring down when he gets up a head of steam. He is a good blocker. Thomas has massive 111/2″ hands.
5)Dallas Goedert, S. Dak. St., 6’5″ 260. 23 reps. A big, reliable receiver for South Dakota St. Dominated the competition for South Dakota St. Can he do the same in the NFL is the question. Had an injury and did not run at the Combine. I think he is another 3rd rounder.
6)Troy Fumagalli, Wisconsin, 6’5″, 249 lbs. 14 reps. Also injured and did not run at the combine or at his pro day. I saw him play and started keeping notes on him in 2016. He was really good that season. He had a left leg injury that hobbled him off and on in 2017 but I think he is now recovering from surgery or other rehab and thus no times on him. Big deal he is missing a finger, Shaq Griffin doesn’t have a hand. They have both learned to compensate. I thought entering this past season Fumagalli was the #1 Tight End and he may still turn out as that, if he gets his leg fixed. He runs good routes, is plenty fast enough on the field, and has vacuum cleaner hands-you would never know he is missing a finger. Fumagalli will go on day #2 of the draft IMO.
7)Dalton Schultz, Stanford, 6’5″, 242lbs., 4.75 40. 7.0 3 cone. 15 reps. Another in the line of really good Stanford tight ends. He is a really good blocker but a more than capable receiver as well. He is smart and seems to find gaps in the defense. He has good hands. He is not quite as fast as the prospects I like better. Probably a 4th round choice.
8)Ethan Wolf, Tenn., 6″6″, 258lbs., I don’t have times on Wolf, as he was not invited to the combine. I’ve heard knocks on Wolf that he was soft, but he started every game for 3 straight years there I believe, and the games I saw he was a hard nosed and hard hitting blocker. He’s big and he also has good hands. He has good game speed, but he is not as fast as the prospects at the top of this list. He also seems to have a knack for finding the hole in the defense and sitting down in that spot. I know I have him listed higher than a lot of analysts, but I liked him every time I saw him play.
9)Jordan Thomas, Miss. St., 6’5″, 265 lbs., 4.74 40, 16 reps. Thomas fancies himself a wide receiver and he often played split wide at Mississippi St. He does run good routes and also has good hands. I’m not sure if he wants to block. Could be a good pick-up on day #3.
10)Durham Smythe, Notre Dame, 6’5″, 253 lbs. A big thick blocking tight end. 4.81 40 is Ok but a little slow. Has a great set of hands. A later round selection. 7.17 3 cone.
11)William Dissly, Wa., 6’4″, 262lbs. 4.87 4o. 7.07 3 cone. Another bigger, but slower, blocking tight end.
12)Jaylen Samuels, N.C. St., 5’11”, 223, 4.54 40, 18 reps, 6.93 3 cone, 4.28 short shuttle. Samuels is an H-back. Not really a tight end but not a wide receiver either. One thing is for sure, this guy makes plays. If you want to utilize an H-back in your offense this is the guy you want in this draft. Very quick for 223lbs. Great hands and can run after the catch.
Adam Breneman, UMass; Tyler Petite, USC; Christopher Herndon, Miami; Marcus Baugh, Ohio St; CJ Conrad, Ky. are all players that may get drafted in the late rounds or be offered as undrafted free agents. I saw good things from all of them, but I like the 12 listed above the best for the Bills.