Most rookie tight ends don’t have a big impact. As a rule, never expect a rookie tight end to be your every week starter. Always pair them with someone else. I do think two have the ability and opportunity to standout among the rest.
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The Buccaneers selected Howard in round one of the draft. Howard’s stats at Alabama weren’t eye popping. He really proved himself in the National Championship game and Senior Bowl. Tight end Cameron Brate made a big splash for the Bucs last year. But he played over sixty percent of his snaps in the slot. Howard will lineup in-line and both will see the field at the same time. Howard’s size and athletic ability will help him make plays as a rookie. I think you can take Howard in later rounds and expect some solid weeks out of him.
Engram is the type of tight end who can move all around the offense and produce. Reports from Giants camp say he’s doing that and making plays. He could be a match-up nightmare for defenses. He’s like a big wide receiver who’s too fast for some linebackers and too big for some defensive backs. There isn’t much competition at the position for Engram. He could be the top rookie tight end point scorer.
Shaheen is a monster target at 6’6” 278lbs. He’s been making an impact early in Bears camp. Bears weapons have a history in injuries and Shaheen could end up being a Kyle Rudolph type of player. Zach Miller will be the starter in Chicago. Shaheen could make an impact this year. I wouldn’t draft him. But put him on your short list of players after the draft to keep tabs on.
Njoku is on this list for a negative reason. The Browns took him in the first round and I don’t think he’s worth a spot on your roster. He hasn’t been playing well early in camp and the QB situation isn’t a good one (per usual) in Cleveland. Avoid Njoku during your draft this year.
Sprinkle is a player who could end up getting playing time because Jordan Reed’s injury history. He’s a long shot to make an impact and will have to fight for a roster spot. Sprinkle was a sure handed receiver opposite Hunter Henry at Arkansas. His blocking ability could help him land a job in Washington. With Reed’s concussion history Sprinkle could end up finding the field. He’d still have Vernon Davis and Niles Paul ahead of him. Don’t draft Sprinkle. Just remember his name when it’s roster cut down time to see if he makes it. Then monitor the roster through out the year.