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2023 NFL Scouting Combine Winners and Losers: Tight Ends

How did this year’s rookie tight end crop do at the combine?

Zack Kuntz

The incoming tight end rookie class may result in four or five selected in the first two rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft. This class has the potential to compete for one of the best classes to come out of college.


Tight ends are my favorite position to scout and analyze. One of my favorite metrics to consider is their 40-yard dash time. Since 2000, only 15 tight ends have surpassed 1,000 receiving yards in a season. Here are their 40 times:

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It is important to note that 40-time is not the final answer to a tight end. There are multiple variables such as draft capital, and quite honestly, if the tight end is skilled at the position. I prefer to drive my analysis based on the 40-time. I prefer to chase ceilings rather than safe floors with prospects. A tight end with speed and agility will be able to create a big play.

When evaluating collegiate prospects, I am not too concerned with their box score stats. George Kittle’s season-high was 22 receptions at Iowa, which came in his senior season. Injuries, system, and scheme will affect their usage.

2023 NFL Combine

Not all prospects participated in the majority of the drills. Four prospects did not test at all. Here are the tight end Scouting Combine results:

The 3-cone and 20-yard shuttle are important. They note any agility and burst, which also helps a tight end with an intriguing 40-time. Mark Andrews (17) and George Kittle (18) did not have relatively high bench reps but still play physically.

2023 Combine Risers

My risers from the Scouting Combine last year were, Jelani Woods, Daniel Bellinger, Chigoziem Okonkwo, and Grant Calcaterra. Looking at the 2023 class, here are the notable risers:

  • Zack Kuntz, Old Dominion
    • The fastest tight end (4.55)
    • Tied for most bench reps (23)
    • Highest vertical (40.00”)
  • Sam LaPorta, Iowa
    • Second fastest tight end (4.59)
    • Respectable testing results in the 3-cone and 20-yard shuttle
  • Luke Musgrave, Oregon State
    • Third fastest tight end (4.61)
  • Brenton Strange, Penn State
    • He tested well. His 40-time (4.70) was not spectacular, but it is not the worst. He may be similar to Grant Calcaterra (4.62), a sixth-round rookie selection in 2022 who develops within a system.
  • Darnell Washington, Georgia
    • I had to include Washington. He was a top prospect within this class; however, his testing and drills have solidified him atop the group.

Draft capital will conclude my analysis on these tight ends. Their speed is important, however, it is important to note if each individual prospect excels in other areas of the game such as blocking.

2023 NFL Combine Fallers

Continuing off the theme of the article, my fallers would be the tight ends running a slow 40-yard dash. These players were Davis Allen and Payne Durham.

These tight ends had impressive box score stats in their final collegiate season. Their athletic testing may not bode well for their NFL endeavors. What I mean is: their skillsets likely will not translate to production. Durham has noted blocking ability.

I am not saying these tight ends will not put in the work and compete for playing time. They simply are off my radar due to their athletic testing.

2023 NFL Combine Questions

There were four tight ends who did not run the 40-yard dash who competed in other tests. Will Mallory, Travis Vokolek, Brayden Willis, and Noah Gindorff did not test in this drill. Additionally, the tight ends who did not test in the entirety of the combine will be questionable. Dalton Kincaid, Cameron Latu, Kyle Patterson, and Leonard Taylor are these players. It will be important to note their pro-days if they test there.

  • Latu reportedly tweaked his hamstring before the combine
  • Kincaid had a minor back fracture

For the record, Kincaid is my TE1 and he has shown his ability to be a playmaker during his collegiate career. I am looking forward to his pro-day testing, if he does test.


Being an athlete is not the final factor to future NFL success. History has shown slower tight ends succeeding. It will be important if a team decides to scheme to a player (i.e., Tony Gonzalez). Draft capital is important, however, we do not need a tight end to have first or second-round draft capital to find success. Mark Andrews and Travis Kelce were both third-round selections.

Evaluating the entirety of a draft class is important. It does not seem tight ends are a premium position for NFL teams. A prospect like Kyle Pitts would be.

As mentioned, this class may find multiple tight ends being selected in the first two rounds. This will tell us if an NFL team is intrigued by them, potentially with immediate plans to utilize within the system. It will be important to note if the tight end has an opportunity to compete for the TE1 role. This is not sufficient enough; they would also need to be a top target on the team.

  • Evan Engram (2017): first-round selection who found himself the top target his rookie season
  • Dallas Goedert (2018): second-round selection developed behind Zach Ertz
  • Greg Dulcich (2022): third-round selection claimed TE1 role (got injured)

There will be multiple reasons for why a tight end takes “time to develop”. Engram shows the potential for a tight end to produce immediately.


If a tight end gets drafted within the first four rounds, I am intrigued when pairing their physical metrics to their individual ability. The fourth round is my cut-off when putting together the prospect puzzle piece. I do like to see an NFL team invest earlier draft capital into the player. The history of tight ends drafted after the fourth round is not intriguing, though, there are always outliers.

Not every selection translates to fantasy production. A tight end who has blocking skills may find themselves being drafted before a tight end who is a better receiver.

A lot of change will happen from now until the NFL Draft. The combine does not take away from what tight ends have done on film. It is important to note success at the combine to find the tight end fitting the mold – speed, agility, and burst. The tight end does need to be individually talented too, not just fast (Noah Fant). I want a tight end who can provide fantasy relevance without being touchdown dependent.

2023 NFL Scouting Combine Winners and Losers: Tight Ends
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Cy Guy
21 days ago

I think it would be worth adding “number of 1000 yard seasons” to the table at the beginning of the article. While that is obviously skewed due to younger TEs being mid-career, I think it would still be informative.
My brief look at it saw the faster TE peaking for 2 seasons of 1000 yard production (obviously impacted by health and injuries), while the studs like Kelce, Gronk and Gonzalez were good for 4+ seasons. Personally, my takeaway is that faster 40 times may be useful for identifying potential upside when picking a TE in later rounds, but not that useful when trying to draft the #1 TE. The sweet spot seems to be mid 4.60s for a physically intimidating TE, which is a fast time for someone 6’5″ and 240+.

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