Top Tight Ends in 2011 NFL Draft

by Eric Caldwell
(Melbourne, Florida )

The class of 2011 provides several intriguing prospects at the TE position. The top talents in this class excel primarily in possession situations, displaying soft hands and keen awareness. This class doesn’t include much depth, and I’d be surprised if more than 8 prospects are selected during the draft. Without further ado, here are my top-5 Tight Ends on the 2011 draft board.

(*Indicates an underclassman yet to declare)

1. Kyle Rudolph, Junior – Notre Dame
Rudolph was possibly the flashiest TE in college football during his tenure at Notre Dame, recording 90 receptions and over 1,000 receiving yards despite having his Junior season being slowed drastically by a hamstring injury. Rudolph’s 6’6”, 265lb frame makes him a remarkable physical specimen that will leave scouts drooling. The one blemish on Rudolph’s resume is his uninspired blocking, which will have to be corrected if he’s going to get over that coach’s hump at the next level. In a tight end class that features few prospects with a lot of potential, Rudolph is the lone exception that may be a first round pick.

Here’s our Kyle Rudolph jersey

2. D.J. Williams, Senior – Arkansas
The Razorbacks’ slightly undersized safety-blanket turned in an especially impressive season in 2010, catching 54 balls for 627 yards and 4 scores while helping the Hogs to a berth in the Sugar Bowl. While Williams may be the most sure-handed TE we’ve seen in a while, I have major concerns about his speed and height. I see him as a late 3rd rounder at best, but he should excel if he lands in the right system.

3. Tyler Shoemaker, Junior – Boise St.*
Here we have another severely undersized prospect whose instinctive demeanor is his biggest asset. Standing at only 6’1”, he won’t be effective as a red-zone threat but Shoemaker has been rather dangerous in the screen game, showcasing surprising agility considering his stature.

Looking for a Antonio Gates jersey

4. Weslye Saunders, Senior – South Carolina
Saunders was widely acclaimed the top tight end prospect during the 2010 off-season, but a cloudy disciplinary history and a Senior season in which his highlight real contains a lot of footage of him in street clothes on the sidelines has created a whole new dimension of concerns. On the upside, his quickness is unquestioned and he is a walking mismatch for opposing linebackers. I expect someone to take a chance on this redzone marauder early in the 5th round.

5. Lance Kendricks, Senior – Wisconsin
Lance Kendricks excelled during his Senior season, catching 43 balls for 663 yards and 5 touchdowns. He functioned primarily as a safety blanket for Scott Tolzien, displaying bold confidence and fabric-soft hands while leading the Badgers in receiving yards en route to an 11-1 regular season record.

Shopping for a Tony Gonzalez jersey

Here's some more NFL draft articles by Eric Caldwell: Draft Prospects for Patrick Peterson and Stevan Ridley and SEC Offensive Line Prospects in 2011 NFL Draft.

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Jan 19, 2011
Response to Tight Ends
by: Paul Grossinger

I thought that your list of tight ends was right on the money. That was some pretty deep analysis and I can't argue with much of it. If I had any criticism it would be that I think you might be underrating Kendrick's potential NFL contribution a bit by placing him number 5. I think he really elevated their running game (on top of being an excellent safety blanket) by always being a present threat. I think that several NFL teams with young quarterbacks will scout him heavily and he will contribute more than expected down the road.

Feb 01, 2011
by: Eric Caldwell

Thanks man I'm glad you liked it and I hope you check out some more of my stuff. I'm gonna be finishing up big boards and do a couple mock drafts as soon as the NFL season ends.

Feb 02, 2011
Re Tight Ends
by: Paul G

I'll be sure to take a look

Mar 26, 2011
by key
by: key

are you kidding you didnt acount for luke stocker of tennessee, your a complete idot if he isnt at leasy your number 2.

Apr 18, 2011
by: Eric

I'm not sleeping on Stocker but I'm not huge on him either. His speed is less than desireable and he dropped a lot of balls during his senior year. If he can hone some discipline he could be a terrific red-zone/safety blanket type tight end in the league but there's a lot more risk in that assumption than reward.

Oct 15, 2015
Good post NEW
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