Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL Draft Preview: Tight Ends

A look at this year's tight end class.

Who are the best tight ends in this year's draft class?

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> READ: TOP 5 TIGHT ENDSLeading the pack: Minnesota's Maxx Williams, most analysts agree, will be the top tight end selected in this year's draft. But it is still uncertain when he will be taken. Of NFL.com's mock draft four panelists, one has Williams being selected in the first round while the other three believe he will be taken in the second. In their draft prospect rankings, CBS Sports has Williams graded as a first-round prospect. Williams had a productive, although brief, college career. In his two seasons with the Golden Gophers, he hauled in 61 passes for 986 yards and 13 touchdowns.  

The second tier: Miami's Clive Walford might be the most well-rounded tight end in this year's draft. In their scouting report, NFL.com wrote, "He lacks the elite athletic traits to be a game-changer at the position, but he is becoming a premium blocker. With teams looking for versatile TEs to create matchups in two-TE sets, Walford's stock should be high." Walford is expected to be drafted in the second round. Also keep an eye on Florida State's Nick O'Leary, Rutgers' Tyler Kroft and Penn State's Jesse James. 

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Mid-round picks:** Delaware's Nick Boyle has helped his cause tremendously this spring. In the Senior Bowl in January, he caught two passes for 21 yards but was able to run his way open often. At one point, he was targeted on four consecutive plays. Boyle is projected to be a fifth or sixth-round pick. Also keep an eye on Ohio State's Jeff Huerman, Notre Dame's Ben Koyack and Southern Illinois' MyCole Pruitt.

Sleepers: Bowie State's Khari Lee is that diamond-in-the rough, former basketball player type of tight end that teams have been infatuated with since Jimmy Graham burst on the scene. His numbers don't jump off the stat sheet and he played against a lower level of competition than most tight ends in this draft, but scouts praise his body control and ability to adjust to the ball when it's in the air. Lee could likely be picked up as an undrafted free agent. Also keep an eye on Arkansas' AJ Derby, Wisconsin's Sam Arneson and Florida's Clay Burton.

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