The 2023 NFL Draft is rapidly closing in, and when it comes, the selections will impact the depth charts and starting lineups of teams throughout the league. Over the next couple of pieces, I’ll be looking at teams whose depth charts could change with selections in the draft. Today, we have eight teams that might be looking for a tight end in the NFL Draft.
On the Roster: Irv Smith Jr., Drew Sample, Devin Asiasi, Tanner Hudson, and Nick Bowers
The Situation: The Bengals are a contender in the AFC thanks in part to quarterback Joe Burrow and a trio of top wide receivers, including Tee Higgins, Ja’Marr Chase, and Tyler Boyd. But last season, we saw veteran Hayden Hurst have a nice year with the Bengals. Hurst is in Carolina now, and the Bengals have made a few moves to add depth to the position. Sample has been on the roster since he was drafted but remains more of a blocker. The Bengals added former Patriot Asiasi and recently signed former Vikings Smith to a one-year deal. They don’t need a tight end, but they don’t have a long-term option yet. Smith could end up hitting, but it’s also possible the Bengals go fishing in the draft.
Prediction: Depending on how the board falls, I could see the Bengals adding a TE in the Third or Fourth-Round to give them future options.
On the Roster: Peyton Hendershot, Jake Ferguson, Sean McKeon, Ian Bunting, and Seth Green
The Situation: The Cowboys had a star in Dalton Schultz at tight end the past few seasons. He’s gone now, signed with the Houston Texans after being unable to work out a long-term deal playing on the Franchise Tag last season. The Cowboys have some internal options, including Hendershot and Ferguson, who looked solid at times last season. But are they comfortable moving forward with those options? That’s always seemingly a question with Jerry Jones, who has a lot to mull when considering the Cowboys’ skill position players throughout the offense.
Prediction: Dallas seemingly solved its receiver issue with a trade for Brandin Cooks. Sitting near the bottom of the First Round, it wouldn’t be a shock to see the Cowboys go TE or RB. Either way, I think they grab a tight end at some point in the draft.
On the Roster: Brock Wright, Shane Zylstra, James Mitchell, and Derrick Deese, Jr.
The Situation: Last season, when things were going poorly for the Lions, the team made a trade, sending former First Round pick T.J. Hockenson to the Minnesota Vikings. The team still doesn’t have a solid, long-term option on the roster at the position. The Lions have a good young offense, one that surged to end the 2022 season. They have a solid set of receivers and backs but still have questions at tight end. As a team that seems on the rise and poised for a playoff run in 2023, having a solid playmaker at tight end could be a benefit.
Prediction: Do the Lions need a tight end? They flourished offensively after Hockenson’s trade. Still, for a team looking for production, it makes sense to upgrade. It hasn’t happened in free agency, and I don’t think the Lions will draft a tight end early, either. But I think Dan Campbell’s group will snag one in the Third or Fourth Round.
Green Bay Packers
On the Roster: Josiah Deguara, Tyler Davis, Austin Allen, and Nick Guggemos
The Situation: There are more questions than answers for the Packers right now. Aaron Rodgers is still on the roster, though he’s likely gone. The Packers have questions at receiver and also at tight end, especially after Robert Tonyan signed with the Bears this off-season. Jordan Love is the presumed starter, and they’ll want to surround him with weapons. Currently, Deguara, a blocker, profiles as the team’s starter at tight end among current options. Will that remain true, or will the Packers try to build a young offense around Love?
Prediction: Receiver feels like a more dire concern, but the question is if the Packers will spend premium picks on skill position players. They haven’t done that much in recent years. I think receiver will be addressed first, but the Packers need to snag a tight end with some pass-catching upside at some point in this draft.
Las Vegas Raiders
On the Roster: Austin Hooper, O.J. Howard, Jesper Horsted, and Cole Fotheringham
The Situation: The Raiders had one of the league’s premier weapons at tight end in Darren Waller. In fact, over the past four seasons, he’s been a force on the offense. This off-season, Josh McDaniels elected to trade him away. The Raiders aren’t without passing game weapons, with Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow, and Jakobi Myer at receiver. Still, the team could use a good tight end for new quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. The team snagged veterans Hooper and Howard in free agency, but those feel like bridge options at best. Could the Raiders look for a more permanent solution in the draft?
Prediction: There have been few teams harder to read this off-season than the Raiders. It would make sense to grab a young tight end of the future, but it feels to me like they are content to roll with Hooper and Howard, focusing the pass offense on their receivers. They might snag someone late, but I think the Raiders will focus on other needs.
On the Roster: Durham Smythe and Eric Saubert
The Situation: Much like the Cowboys, the Dolphins spent the 2022 season with a tight end on the Franchise Tag. In this case, it was Mike Gesicki. But Gesicki didn’t look like a fit for Mike McDaniel’s offense in 2022, so it was no surprise the Dolphins let him move on. Still, that leaves them with just Smythe and Saubert, best known as role players, on the roster. The Dolphins’ pass offense flows through Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, but it would make sense for the Dolphins to add a young player to the tight end room.
Prediction: McDaniel came from an offense in San Francisco that made great use of a talented tight end in George Kittle. Gesicki might not have fit his offense, but the right tight end could find a spot. I think the Dolphins will grab a tight end in the middle rounds, a player they can develop as a blocker and passing weapon.
On the Roster: Chig Okonkwo, Kevin Rader, Justin Rigg, and Thomas Odukoya
The Situation: No team is more devoid of weapons throughout the offense than the Titans. Aside from Derrick Henry, it’s hard to say what the Titans have going for them on offense. Okonkwo looked like a solid passing weapon at times down the stretch in 2022, but is he the answer at tight end? Perhaps. The Titans have plenty of other needs, too, including a glaring need at wide receiver.
Prediction: A lot is up in the air for the Titans. That includes at quarterback, where it’s unclear if the Titans are comfortable rolling with Ryan Tannehill and Malik Willis. I suspect a high pick will be either a quarterback or wide receiver, and the Titans certainly have needs on defense, too. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them grab a tight end at some point in the draft.
On the Roster: Logan Thomas, John Bates, Cole Turner, Armani Rogers, and Curtis Hodges
The Situation: A few seasons ago, Thomas was a solid performer for the Commanders and fantasy. But over the past two seasons, he has just 57 receptions for 519 yards. It’s likely the offense can do better and will want to do better. Bates and Turner were tight ends taken the past two seasons, but neither has made much of an impact on the field. It’s possible one, or both, are ready to step forward this season as a young player developing. It’s also possible Thomas can look more like the player he was during the Commanders’ playoff run in 2020.
Prediction: The Commanders are another offense that is hard to read. Still, it is far from certain they have the answer at tight end on the roster. Looking to build around Sam Howell, it would make sense for them to add more weapons. I think they’ll snag a tight end at some point in the draft.
Matthew Fox is a die-hard NFL fan and Broncos’ homer. He’s a member of the FSWA. You can find more from him on Twitter @knighthawk7734 or as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast, a part of the Campus2Canton Network.