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NFL Draft stock report: Tight ends


Ten weeks into the college football season, many top players have seen their draft stock rise, fall or stay steady. In our latest NFL Draft series, we take a look at some of these prospects.

Today we move to the tight end position.

MORE FARRELL: The SEC's balance problem | Vols in driver's seat | Harbaugh amazes




Recruiting: Engram committed to Ole Miss over a majority of low-level FBS offers in the summer before his senior season. UCLA was showing a lot of interest at the time but Engram said he felt most comfortable with the Rebels.

Performance: Engram leads the Rebels in catches with 53 for 775 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging 14.6 yards per catch and more than 86 yards per game. He has 19 more receptions than anyone else in Ole Miss’ offense.

Farrell’s take: Engram is all over the map on many lists because of his lack of size. He’s just not a big target. Engram can run, he can do more with the ball closer to the line of scrimmage than most on this list, but that size hurts the former three-star. He’s been much more productive so far than those ranked ahead of him on tight end boards. Will it be enough for scouts?

BUCKY HODGES, Virginia Tech

Recruiting: Rated as a four-star quarterback in the 2013 class, Hodges picked Virginia Tech over offers from Ohio State, West Virginia, Illinois, Maryland and others.

Performance: Hodges is third on the Hokies with 33 receptions for 492 yards and he’s second on the team with five touchdowns. The former four-star quarterback averages just under 15 yards per catch.

Farrell’s take: Hodges has blossomed into a huge tight end who is hard to handle because he’s so big and sneaky fast. He can stretch the field and also do damage over the middle. I thought he was the perfect fit for the Hokies as a mobile quarterback, but he’s been a better fit as a tight end. Mobile, huge targets are something every NFL quarterback wants.


JAKE BUTT, Michigan

Recruiting: A few weeks following National Signing Day 2012, Butt committed to Michigan over several Big Ten and MAC schools and others, including Stanford, Tennessee and UCLA. The Pickerington (Ohio) North standout was a lifelong Ohio State fan but was not offered by the Buckeyes.

Performance: Butt is second on the Michigan team in catches, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. The former four-star has 34 catches for 421 yards and four scores this season, averaging 12.4 yards per reception.

Farrell’s take: Butt is probably the most well-rounded prospect on this list as he can block, catch and work inline and outside effectively. Working out of a pro-style system has also helped him. The NFL likes tight ends that can do it all, but it is enamored with athletic freaks, which is why some have a few flex tight ends ahead of him. But I’m beginning to think Butt looks like a guy who will have a long NFL career and be a reliable Jason Witten-type. That reliability is what we liked about him out of high school as well.


Recruiting: The three-star prospect committed to Clemson in early March of his junior year over offers from Louisville, South Florida and Central Florida. He was the No. 13 tight end in the 2013 class.

Performance: Leggett has caught 22 passes for 385 yards and four touchdowns so far this season, averaging 17.5 yards per reception.

Farrell’s take: Leggett was a tall, skinny kid coming out of high school. He fell short of four-star status by a few spots and has since proven us wrong. Leggett was under-recruited and is another great example of the Clemson staff seeing something many others missed. He has more NFL upside than O.J. Howard or Jake Butt because Leggett is longer, bigger and more of a deep threat. That being said, Leggett has been up and down this year and could be a boom-or-bust prospect.


O.J. HOWARD, Alabama

Recruiting: The top-rated tight end in the 2013 class and a five-star prospect, Howard committed to Alabama leading into his junior season over Auburn, Florida State and others.

Performance: Howard is third on the Crimson Tide with 23 receptions for 275 yards and two touchdowns. The former five-star tight end is averaging 12 yards per catch for top-ranked Alabama.

Farrell’s take: Howard is the most athletic player I have ever scouted at the position. Simply put, Howard was a freak of nature and the fact that he still hasn’t been utilized properly at Alabama is tough to figure. After his national title game performance where he exploded for 208 yards and two touchdowns on just five catches, you would expect that to change this year. But it hasn’t and scouts are wondering if this is a Lane Kiffin decision or perhaps Howard isn’t as dominant as many think and his potential first-round grade is fading.


Recruiting: Sprinkle, a two-way standout in high school, picked the Razorbacks over Mississippi State, Kansas, Purdue and Louisville among others.

Performance: Sprinkle ranks fourth among Arkansas players with 23 catches for 266 yards and four touchdowns, tied for second on the team in TDs. He’s averaging 11.6 yards per reception.

Farrell’s take: Sprinkle could play offense or defense coming out of high school and was tall, skinny and athletic. He was mildly recruited and one of the better players in his home state, but he had a long way to go physically. Sprinkle has obviously filled out very well, is a massive target and has underrated hands. Despite all of that, nothing about his 2016 season has screamed that he should rise up draft boards.