After two fairly strong years, the tight end position has experienced a bit of a dip. The 2012 class did place four prospects in the initial ESPNU 150, a solid showing for the position, but only one managed to crack the top 100. The 2011 tight end class saw all five of the prospects who made the 150 finish among the top 100 prospects. In addition, two of those prospects ranked in the top 20. The 2010 class had six of its seven 150 tight ends land in the top 100.
While the strength of this class is not high relative to past classes, don't mistake the dip for an overall lack of talent. This is a class that features comparable overall depth at this point with 13 four-stars as well as a quality group of three-star prospects.
A premium is given to those tight ends who display the most well-rounded skills to produce at a high level as both a receiver and blocker. This class features a few prospects who fit that bill. There are also athletic tight ends who can be an active part of a passing attack by stretching the field and creating difficult matchups. Others can aid run games by being strong in-line blockers.
Colin Thompson (Warminster, Pa./Archbishop Wood)
6-foot-4, 255 pounds
Thompson brings a little bit of everything you're looking for in a tight end to the table as a well-rounded player at the position. He possesses good overall size and can contribute as both a blocker and receiving target. He has the size and experience and displays the nastiness to help create running lanes as a blocker. In the passing game he may not be a dynamic, big-play threat, but he has good hands, can use his big frame to shield defenders from the ball, will fight for yards after the catch and can certainly be a productive part of a passing attack and help move the chains. The Gators commit is more of an in-line player best suited for a pro-style attack, but he possesses the tools to do very well in that role.
Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick (Rocklin, Calif./Whitney)
The four-star is a prospect in the same mold of the position's top player. He is more of a true in-line tight end who possesses very good size to be able to contribute as a blocker, but he is also a productive receiver. Cope-Fitzpatrick is a nice-sized target with good hands that can quickly extend and snatch the ball. He also uses his size well to go up and compete for the ball and can make plays in the passing game and help an offense move down the field. Not as strong a blocker as Thompson at this point, Cope-Fitzpatrick has the tools to be productive in this facet of the offense as well and can be a successful and well-rounded college tight end.
Dominic Ramacher (Denton, Texas/Guyer)
College: Oklahoma State
The Oklahoma State commit is not a prototypical tight end in the mold of the two prospects rated above him, but he is versatile, athletic and tough. He is listed as a tight end but is a diverse prospect at the position who can and likely will move around on offense at the college level. He may lack ideal height but is a still a good-sized kid who can run well. He has good hands and can be a physical and productive blocker. This is a well-rounded athlete who plays with an old-school demeanor but has the skills to fit today's modern offenses.
Players to watch
Devin Funchess (Farmington Hills, Mich./Harrison)
This is not your conventional in-line tight end, but this tall, lean, plus-size type receiver can catch the ball and make plays in the passing game. This is a prospect that needs to keep developing and filling out his frame and while he gives effort and shows good toughness, he needs work to develop as a blocker and expand his skill set. As a receiving target, this Michigan commit is as exciting and good as the class offers. With his long and rangy frame he presents a nice catch radius and possesses great hands. He displays very good body control and concentration, can high-point the ball well and is capable of making some tough grabs. This is a kid who needs to add size, but allowed to play to his strengths, he could be a bit of a weapon in the passing game as a tight end.
Sean Price (Citra, Fla. / North Marion)
Price is a tight end with good hands, and he plays with a competitive nature and displays that he is capable of making some tough grabs. He does lack ideal size but is a kid who looks to be working hard to physically develop and grow more into a well-rounded player at the position. He is a good prospect and someone to watch as a potential mover in the rankings as the year unfolds.
Evan Baylis (Aurora, Colo./Grandview)
Oregon commit Baylis possesses good height and although he needs to add bulk, he seems like a good fit and can be a productive target in the Ducks high-tempo attack. He can catch the ball well with his hands and displays good straight-line speed to help them spread and stretch the field. He does need improved size and strength, but in the Ducks scheme, with some physical development and improved technique, he can contribute to their ground attack as well, as he gives good effort and works to stick with and finish blocks. Baylis is a player to keep an eye on as the four-star is a talented prospect who looks to be headed to a program that suits his abilities.
Kent Taylor (Land O' Lakes, Fla./Land O' Lakes) is the fourth and final tight end in the initial ESPNU 150. This is a tough and physical kid with good hands. He does possess a bit of a narrow frame and adding significant size may be difficult. … Georgia scored big last year by landing the nation's top tight end in Jay Rome and has now followed that up by getting a verbal from four-star Ty Smith (Moultrie, Ga./Colquitt County). Smith may not be as big or well rounded as Rome, but is a physical tight end who can run and catch the ball well. … North Carolina has scored a pair of top 20 tight end prospects in Justin Meredith (Anderson, S.C./T.L. Hanna) and Terrance Knox (Concord, N.C./Concord). Both are a good gets for the Tar Heels as both bring something a little different to the table. An Under Armour All-American, Meredith is a very good athlete and can help stretch the field. Knox is more of an H-Back type and a physical receiving target. … Jonathan Curry (Phenix City, Ala. / Central) lacks ideal height, but he is a physical and tough blocker. He catches your attention as a blocker, but can also contribute as a receiver with good hands and we believe he will fit best at the college level in more of an H-Back role. ... Samad Hinds (Miami/Central) is a tall, very lean and raw tight end prospect, but someone worth keeping an eye on. A basketball player making the transition to football, he needs size and development. However, he displays good hands, uses his long build well, can go up and high-point and be tough to deal with in jump-ball situations. … TCU commit Griffin Gilbert (Austin, Texas/Lake Travis) is a tall and lean wide receiver/tight end, kind of in the same mold as Funchess. From a football family, he displays a good feel for the passing game and has good hands and speed, very good body control, and excellent awareness as a receiver. The Horned Frogs got a kid who is a bit of a tweener position wise, but who is also a good football player and should fit well and be productive in their offensive attack.