Scouting 2016: Tight End

Hello Broncos Country!

This is a continuation of my weekly column, in which I scout the top 3 at every position in the 2016 draft. I know this is looking way ahead, but if you are a draft geek like me, it is still good to get a feel for what next offseason has in store. I also would like to mention at this point that I will not be scouting kickers or punters, sorry Marshall Morgan.

I will be starting out with the 2016 draft position rankings. I will take each prospect, and watch a couple games. I will then write up a brief scouting report, and give them a score, out of 10, in 10 very important categories. Here’s an example. For a random, made up tight end, the categories will be as follows:

  • Body Control: 7/10
  • Route Running: 9/10
  • Hands: 7/10
  • Blocking: 2/10
  • Athletic Ability: 10/10
  • Character/Leadership: 6/10
  • Durability: 8/10
  • Strength: 7/10
  • Size: 9/10
  • Experience: 9/10

That player would receive a 7.4. A player with starter potential, who is an excellent athlete who has trouble with drops and is a terrible blocker.

With this scoring system, an 8 or above is a possible rookie starter, 7-8 is a potential future starter, a 6-7 is a good rotational guy, a 5-6 is a fringe sub, and below a 5 is likely a camp body. Anything above a 9 is a superstar who could be the top player at there position in a few years. After I score everyone, I will then re rank the players, using my own system.

Tight end may not seem like a huge need. We have some solid ones in Virgil Green, Owen Daniels and possibly Joe Don Duncan. Still, Elway of all people should know how important a great Tight End is, and don’t you miss this connection just a little bit?

Here is the Tight End rankings:

O.J. Howard, Alabama

Hunter Henry, Arkansas

Evan Engram, Ole Miss

O.J. Howard

The first thing that comes to mind when you talk about Howard is his frame. He is 6’6 but also only 237 pounds, so he is clearly not an Alabama in line blocker of old. He has never been productive in college, largely because Alabama values their tight ends as blockers mainly. Still, his talent is apparent.

Here we see Howard line up in the slot, and use his athleticism and size to shield the ball away from the defender, and haul in the pass. He attacks the football, and although his footwork on the route isn’t great, he is smart about using his size to shield the ball.

Lined up in a more typical in line role here, we see Howard take a good angle to open up the lane for the back. You don’t always have to have superb strength to be a good run blocker, and Howard consistently shows a willingness and grit in the run game, even if the strength isn’t always there.

Yet another example of his willingness and toughness in the running game, Howard just does not stop blocking. Howard is a refreshing change of pace from a position which has become a bit soft recently.

While he did not get the football a lot, the big play athletic ability is definitely there. He shows up very fast on tape. If I had to guess, I’d say he runs in the 4.4-4.5 range. That is excellent for a tight end.


  • Tall
  • Athletic
  • Willing Blocker
  • Good hands
  • Shows solid route running
  • Agile in space
  • Reportedly ran a 4.49 forty in practice
  • Still raw, lot of upside
  • Gushing reports about his great personality


  • Minor knee injury before coming to Bama
  • Doesn’t always finish his routes, but can you blame his with his low targets?
  • Never been a focal point of an offense, needs polish
  • Concentration drops have been an issue
  • Needs to gain weight
  • Lack of elite strength shows up on tape

Final Tally:

  • Body Control: 9/10
  • Route Running: 8/10
  • Hands: 9/10
  • Blocking: 8/10
  • Athletic Ability: 10/10
  • Character/Leadership: 9/10
  • Durability: 7/10
  • Strength: 7/10
  • Size: 9/10
  • Experience: 8/10

Final Score: 8.4. Freakishly talented, almost to Vernon Davis levels. I wish he had played in an offense that got him the ball more. Hopefully Alabama will use him more this season. Either way, with a year of NFL coaching under his belt, he has all the tools you need to be special.

Hunter Henry

Henry (6’6, 257) has prototypical size for an in line tight end. A large man, he shows the strength to attack defenders in the running game. He was a freshmen All American and also second team All SEC as a sophomore last year.

Sorry for the poor video quality. Henry shows off his proficiency as a blocker here. Henry, number 84 finds and locks on with the linebacker, and stonewalls him not giving up and inch. Impressive.

Henry is also more than good enough to help out in the passing game. Henry is second to top of our screen here, playing in the slot. He bursts off the line quickly, and the attacks the football for the first down. He absorbs the hit, and moves the chains.

One of the few negative plays I saw from him, Henry, pass blocking at the bottom of the screen, allows the strip sack. He does recover the ball, but he needs to have better blocking follow through than that.

Henry’s routes are very impressive. He is up against Alabama’s number 1 corner, and makes a fool of him. Henry’s body control is impressive in all the tape I saw of his, and he’s a very good all around player


  • Incredibly well balanced
  • 2 year starter already
  • Good athlete
  • Excellent acceleration
  • Great hands
  • Good run blocker
  • Has been reported as running a 4.5 forty
  • Only ever had very minor injuries
  • No character issues
  • Great size
  • Nasty streak as a blocker
  • Elite route running for a big guy
  • Strong
  • Drops an easy one from time to time


  • Struggles at times in pass blocking
  • Not a leader
  • Production could be product of tight end friendly system

Final Tally:

  • Body Control: 10/10
  • Route Running: 10/10
  • Hands: 9/10
  • Blocking: 8/10
  • Athletic Ability: 9/10
  • Character/Leadership: 8/10
  • Durability: 9/10
  • Strength: 9/10
  • Size: 10/10
  • Experience: 10/10

Score: 9.2. Oh man this is a good player. When you combine size, speed, strength and technique you get Henry. He needs a bit of work as a pass blocker, but run blocking’s more important for a tight end and he is elite at that. I see an all pro in Henry. Big guy in the Gronk mold. Not saying he’s that good, but that’s the style of player he is.

Evan Engram

Little, H-Back hybrid type of tight end. Only 6’3, 217. Very productive receiver for Ole Miss. All SEC second team as a freshman. Impressive production.

For starters, just look at the way he runs. He has long fast strides, more consistent with a number one receiver than a tight end. Obviously very, very athletic.

Here you see the Vols make the mistake of putting a linebacker on Engram. Engram blows by him, and locates the overthrow to make an athletic play on the ball.

He is a good blocker when need be, especially for a man of his size. Here he follows through and brings the corner to the ground. Refreshing to a slot H back type be willing to block.

Even in college we see an advanced route tree out of Engram. Good whip route here, and he gets open and uses his awareness to get maximum yardage.

Watch the route in this alternate view of the 83 yard catch vs Mississippi State. He flat out embarrasses the defender, with a good pivot, and has the Miss. State guy going in the opposite direction. Great set up by him.


  • In the right system, could be a true offensive weapon
  • Fast as hell
  • Elite hands
  • Elite route running
  • Great body control
  • Has a few excellent blocks
  • Moves all over field
  • Focal point of offense
  • Fairly strong for a man of his size
  • Reportedly has run under 4.5, plays even faster than that
  • Long strider
  • Knows what to do when he gets the ball
  • Good locker room personality
  • Big play ability, to match his production


  • 2013 season ended early with ankle injury
  • Man without a position
  • Rarely asked to block inline, mostly played slot on run plays
  • Did disappear in games, would have an 100+ yard game, and then only get one catch
  • Needs to gain weight
  • Short
  • Not strong, although can be physical
  • Really more of a wide receiver

Final Tally:

  • Body Control: 10/10
  • Route Running: 10/10
  • Hands: 10/10
  • Blocking: 7/10
  • Athletic Ability: 10/10
  • Character/Leadership: 9/10
  • Durability: 7/10
  • Strength: 6/10
  • Size: 6/10
  • Experience: 10/10

Final Score: 8.5. Really better than that even, because his one dimension is insane. As an all around tight end he would be an 8.5, but with a coach who wants him to be a Jimmy Graham type of player, he would be in the high nines. Perfect receiver prospect, and a true offensive playmaker.

My 2016 Tight End Rankings:

  1. Hunter Henry (9.2)
  2. Evan Engram (8.5)
  3. O.J. Howard (8.4)

Ready for another Year of the Tight End? I have each one of these guys ahead of Maxx Williams. They all have the talent to be elite, and the top 2 guys are also big on polish. It will be interesting to see how high Engram goes, since only a few teams have the creativity to max out his talents.

Let me know what you think in the comments. Also, if there’s a particular position you’d like me to scout next week, let me know.

In Elway we trust, go Broncos!

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Leo Duke

My twitter's @Leo_Elway. 17 year old Broncos fan, representing in PA. Email me at, or shoot me a tweet if you have any football questions.