What About The Other Rookie Tight Ends?
The Other Rookie Tight Ends
There is a lot of hype surrounding Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson this year and rightfully so. However, there are a few other gems out there that have found good landing spots with an opportunity to produce early. This article will take a look at three potential breakout tight ends that were all drafted in the third round this past April.
Josh Oliver, Dawson Knox, and Kahale Warring were all selected by teams without a true featured tight end. This may open the door for them to be a bit more productive in their rookie seasons than we usually see at the position. Without further ado, let us dive in.
The entire Jacksonville Jaguars offense was broken down here if you would like to read more on them. Josh Oliver was selected with the 69th overall pick in the 2019 draft out of San Jose State. Oliver had a solid senior year collecting 56 catches for 709 yards and 4 touchdowns. The Spartan grads player comp from Lance Zierlein was Vance McDonald.
The departure of Austin Seferian-Jenkins has left just Geoff Swaim and Ben Koyak atop the tight end depth chart in Duval. Swaim has 35 career receptions and Koyak is more of a blocker than a receiver. Offensive coordinator John Defilippo has a history with his tight ends as well. In his two prior years as an offensive coordinator, his tight ends have had finishes of TE4 and TE7.
These tight ends were Gary Barnridge with the Cleveland Browns in 2015 and Kyle Rudolph with the Vikings last season. In 2015, Barnridge saw a whopping 122 targets. It is clear that DeFilippo likes to use his tight ends. It is no coincidence that the Jags drafted one early this past April.
Nick Foles Impact
Nick Foles arrival in Jacksonville also bolds well for the rookie tight end. Foles has a tendency to target his tight ends heavily. This was especially true in 2018. A look at his target distribution referenced from this chart courtesy of FFS shows just that.
Josh Oliver is currently being drafted as the TE35 in dynasty startups the TE7 in rookie drafts. There is currently no redraft ADP. The FFS staff consensus rankings have the rookie as the TE42 for dynasty purposes. Keep an eye on Josh Oliver this offseason. This quote may sum it up the best:
“I had him as my sleeper this summer, but he just put too much on tape to stay a sleeper. He can work in the slot but he needs to get better as a blocker so he can stay on the field on every down.” — West Coast scout for AFC team
Our next rookie tight end is Kahale Warring. Warring was selected by the Houston Texans with the 86th overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft out of San Diego State. The Aztec grad never put up great numbers in college, but he is still learning to play the game. The inexperienced tight end has drawn comparisons to Todd Heap.
Raju Byfield pegged Kahale Warring as one of his top pre-draft sleepers. The landing spot is perfect and the release of Ryan Griffin only solidifies the upside. Only Jordan Thomas stands in front of him on the depth chart. Also working in Warring’s favor is the fact that the tight ends coach from last year, Tim Kelly, was promoted to offensive coordinator. There is some concern in the fact that Bill O’Brien has never targeted his tight ends heavily.
Deshaun Watson Impact
Unlike Nick Foles, Deshaun Watson does not target his tight ends often. This is likely due to the presence of DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, and Keke Coutee. It may also be because Watson just has not had a tight end as freakishly athletic as Warring. Raju note in his sleeper article that Warring looks and plays like a big wideout.
Kahale Warring is currently being drafted as the TE36 in dynasty startups the TE5 in rookie drafts. There is currently no redraft ADP. The FFS staff consensus rankings do not have the rookie in the top 44 tight ends for dynasty. Warring is raw but may develop due to the opportunity he is likely to have with the Texans. This sums it up pretty well:
“He’s exciting to project because he hasn’t played that much football and he still has big-time flashes. He’s one of those guys who was good at everything in high school athletics, and that usually translates out on the field.” — West Coast scout for NFC team
The last of the rookie tight ends covered is Dawson Knox. Knox was selected by the Buffalo Bills with the 96th overall pick this past April out of Ole Miss. Similar to Oliver and Warring, the Rebels grad never put up great numbers in college. A great workout and NFL caliber size have made him an intriguing prospect with a player comp of Kyle Rudolph.
A big reason Knox was unable to put up numbers in college was the presence of A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf. Similar to Oliver and Warring, the landing spot is great for Knox. The injury to Tyler Kroft has blown the door wide open for the rookie. The injury to Kroft leaves only Lee Smith ahead of Knox on the depth chart.
The tight end history for Sean McDermott is not outstanding and the Bills upgraded their receiving corps with the additions of Cole Beasley and John Brown. However, Knox will still have a chance to produce with Charles Clay departing for Arizona. Clay saw a promising amount of targets prior to 2018, racking up 77, 87 and 74 respectively in the three years prior to 2018. McDermott would be wise to implement Knox into his offense.
Josh Allen Impact
Josh Allen did target his tight end on 18.6% of his passes in 2018. The position saw 56 of Allen’s 301 targets. This was with Buffalo having the likes of an injured Clay, Jason Croom, and former college quarterback Logan Thomas at the position. The Bills had a lot of needs in the draft and the fact that they took a tight end speaks volumes to how they may feel they need to upgrade at the position.
Knox is currently being drafted as the TE39 in dynasty startups the TE6 in rookie drafts. There is currently no redraft ADP. The FFS staff consensus rankings do not have the rookie in the top 44 tight ends for dynasty. However, Knox should see a lot of opportunities in 2019. Knox’s contributions in the run game may get him on the field early and often.
“Honestly, I thought they could have gotten way more out of him than they did. They’ve got all those mouths to feed but he should have had more tastes. And I like the effort in the run game. Dog qualities to him.” – NFC area scout
These are a few tight ends that are basically free in most draft formats. Draft them and then wait and see. The landing spots and the draft capital investments in them from their respective teams make them great options late in drafts. Results may not be seen in 2019, but any signs of life from them in their rookie years make them worthwhile propositions. Monitor these three in organized team activities as well as the preseason and do not be afraid to put them on your squad as a stash.