2019 NFL Scouting Combine
Noah Fant was flying around the field at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine. How did the other tight ends perform? #combine (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

The longest day of the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine includes the quarterbacks, wide receivers, and tight ends. It’s a long day and even starts an hour later than normal. If you haven’t already, check out the offensive line and running back notes from yesterday. This article will focus on the tight ends.

Overall, I think this is a pretty good tight end class. You can find some productive players in this group. Here’s who stood out for better or worse at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine!

Stands Above The Rest

I’ve said in the past that Irv Smith is the best collegiate tight end I’ve ever seen since I’ve been doing posts for the draft. He’s disgusting in a good way. All Irv did was come out here and kill it. Nick Saban doesn’t put up with tight ends that don’t block and Smith can certainly block. He faired well in the pad drills. He’s an excellent route runner with plus speed. 19 reps on the bench and a 4.64 are both solid.

I think Smith is a better version of O.J. Howard. The Bucs took Howard in the first round in 2017 and really broke out this past year. I think Smith is faster and a better route runner than Howard. Smith is so athletic. I have two clips to show you. The first is his gauntlet drill. Just by far the best by any tight end. One thing you want to watch is how easy the drill is. Irv never blinks like he’s been doing it his whole life. Goes straight down the line and never weaves in and out in between throws. Shows off those super strong hands and kills it. Easy.

The second is an in line route. Smith books it down the field and makes a difficult catch look like cake. He’s just disgusting in a good way. I don’t see how you could possibly have a tight end who is better than this in a draft class. It probably helps to have a dad that was a tight end that was also picked in the first round.

IOWA

The Iowa Hawkeyes have two highly touted tight ends. Noah Fant really impressed. The speed is obvious. You can just tell he blows by guys. A 4.50 – 40 time is elite level speed. Fant blocked well in the pad drills and just showed another level of explosion that these other tight ends just don’t have. 22 bench press reps and a 39.5 inch vertical on furthers that point. The only concern was the hands. He dropped a couple balls. One that I will show below. Drops and just overall fluidity separates Fant and Smith. Watch the difference as Fant goes down the line. Not nearly as straight down the line.

As I said in my combine preview, I had no idea who T.J. Hockenson even was. No clue. What I did learn today is that he isn’t on the same level athletically as George Kittle. Not close in that regard. Hockenson ran a 4.70 which is more than fine if he plays like Zach Ertz but I wouldn’t have a clue. His technique was by far in the blocking drills. I’ll give him that but I have my doubts. I’ll show his gauntlet drill now too. The thing that you should notice is the grimace on his face while he’s doing the drills. I know, not the end of the world but it just shows that he’s not an elite pass catcher.

The Rest Of The Day

I’ll say I’m kind of a fan of Jace Sternberger. He’s not a crazy athlete but he gets the job done. You can see that he has strong hands and can get open on a seam route. I like the guy. Not perfect by any means but has some sort of a Jason Witten quality to him. Gets open and you don’t understand how.

Caleb Wilson had a good day. He had a rough Senior Bowl but rebounded well here. He’s the only guy with Fant that really showed that second gear when he had to make up speed down the field to catch up to a ball. A 4.56 time is solid. The blocking looks like an issue but he looks like a guy that can make plays deep down the field. Sounds like a great 2nd tight end to have on the roster.

Two small school guys also had nice days. Josh Oliver and Dax Raymond. I’ll show a clip down below. Check out this one handed grab by Oliver. Tight ends are becoming more and more athletic to fit the times and these two guys are worth a flier.

I’ll list Drew Sample, Fabian Moreau, Tommy Sweeney as blocking tight ends. We saw them at the Senior Bowl. Alize Mack from Notre Dame couldn’t catch. I mean, it got to a point where you can’t really pick the guy. Isaac Nauta is just slow. I don’t mean pure speed either. Just slow in and out of breaks too. Not a good day for him. I don’t have a clue what Zach Gentry is. All I do know is he sucks and shouldn’t be a football player.

Vendetta Tight End Big Board

  • 1: Irv Smith Jr. (Alabama)
  • 2: Noah Fant (Iowa)
  • 3: T.J. Hockenson (Iowa)
  • 4: Jace Sternberger (Texas A&M)
  • 5: Dax Raymond (Utah State)