The tight end class in the 2019 NFL Draft has a lot of talent at the top, but there are a lot of interesting mid-to-late round picks as well. Dawson Knox, Dax Raymond, Kahale Warring, and Josh Oliver will all be late options in your dynasty rookie drafts.
Rookie tight ends take time to develop in the NFL. They have to learn to block like a lineman and run routes like a receiver. Their development is not generally an easy one, so there is far more projection with tight end prospects than with other offensive skill positions, especially for fantasy football.
With that said, there are a lot of interesting rookie tight end prospects in the 2019 NFL Draft. They may not be immediate fantasy studs but, if you own a team with few immediate holes on your roster and can afford to be patient while you let talent develop on your bench, there are several tight ends that are worth stashing, and some could carve out roles earlier than we might think.
Dawson Knox is the obvious snub in dynasty fantasy football rookie drafts right now. He goes undrafted pretty much everywhere. Given the depth of this wide receiver class, it is understandable that owners are preferring to take shots on some of the tantalizing wide receivers that are falling to the third and fourth rounds of their dynasty rookie drafts.
If you need a tight end, and you missed out on the top few guys in this class. Dawson Knox is an excellent consolation prize that you can get for almost nothing. Knox is an excellent athlete that has tremendous upside as a pass catcher in the NFL.
— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 1, 2019
He is going to be a project. He has almost no college production, limited experience running routes, and has very little polish to his game. He was a victim of being in an Ole Miss offense that had DK Metcalf, AJ Brown, DeMarkus Lodge and one of the most frustrating offensive schemes to watch. He never really had the opportunity to show us what he is capable or develop into the tight end prospect that he can be.
He is a player that I am drafting to stash. I’m expecting very little in terms of early value, but think that he could be a player that pays off in the long run. I’m not spending any significant draft capital on him, but I know that, with his horrendous production profile, no one else is either.
He’s a super athletic rookie tight end with good hands that can elevate and catch the ball away from his frame. He blocks well enough to stay on the field, and a team is going to invest in his athletic traits in the NFL Draft. A team that takes him in round three will have a development plan in place. I’m taking a shot on him and having faith in NFL coaches to develop him and utilize his impressive athletic traits.
Dax Raymond is one of the more polished players in this tier of rookie tight ends. He runs good routes, has flashed the ability to run great routes, has excellent hands, body control, contested catch ability and physicality in the passing game. He projects well as a possession tight end in the NFL.
After the catch, Raymond is big, strong, and has good balance. He isn’t elusive and isn’t going to make anyone miss, but he can pick up yards after contact and rumble through arm tackles.
Dax Raymond is still going to need some development as a route runner, he is only an average athlete, and he offers very little as a blocker. While he needs less development than some of the other players in this later crop of rookie tight ends, he is also an older prospect.
Where does he fit in the NFL? I think that he can immediately be an option in the red zone based on his catch radius, hands, and ability in contested catch situations and could develop into a solid possession receiving tight end in the NFL. Will that happen? I don’t know. He is going to have to go to the right situation where the coach has a plan in mind for him. He can be immediately useful to a team if they decide to utilize him in a way that plays to his strengths. Some coaches don’t do that.
While Dax Raymond is the furthest along in his development and probably has the clearest path to immediate production, he also probably has the lowest ceiling. I’m still willing to take a shot on him in the late rounds of dynasty fantasy football rookie drafts based on him being the most likely to be a serviceable dynasty tight end, if not the most prolific.
Kahale Warring is the most interesting name of this group to me. Since he plays at San Diego State, there is very little available tape. The tape that is available is exciting and frustrating at the same time, but the flashes show a player that could be dominant if he can clean up some of his glaring flaws with some development at the next level.
His athleticism alone is a reason to be excited.
— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 4, 2019
That athleticism is impressive. NFL teams are going to like that, and they are going to want to find a way to harness that into a weapon at the next level.
He is still raw, and hasn’t been playing football for long, but the traits are very enticing. Kahale Warring goes up and high points the ball well, he catches the ball well in contested situations and uses his body well to shield defenders away from the ball at the catch point.
Kahale Warring has a massive catch radius with his body alone, and his leaping ability and extension help amplify this. He is going to be a big athletic target for a quarterback in the NFL.
Kahale Warring is an adequate, not dominant blocker. He should be serviceable at the next level, but this isn’t going to be the strength of his overall profile as a tight end in the NFL. That’s ok. If it doesn’t keep him off the field, it isn’t something that will hinder his fantasy football production. That said, he will need some development to be immediately usable.
The primary concern with Warring is his drops. They didn’t show up in the tape that was available to me, but his charted drop rate is alarmingly high, and it won’t be acceptable in the NFL. If Kahale Warring drops as many passes in the NFL as he has been credited with in college, coaches aren’t going to let him on the field. He’s still new to football, so the hope is that this will come more naturally with time, but it is still a cause for concern.
Warring is a player that I absolutely love as a last round of the draft upside pick. He may amount to nothing for your dynasty fantasy football teams, but a lot of guys that go late in dynasty rookie drafts amount to nothing. Of the dynasty rookie tight ends, Kahale Warring is a player that you can get for free that could be a legitimate impact player at the tight end position in several years.
His dynasty value will be dictated by how early a team invests in him in the NFL Draft. If a team likes him, I will happily take a shot on him in dynasty rookie drafts.
Josh Oliver is probably the least likely of these rookie tight ends to provide value to your dynasty fantasy football teams. Overall, he is a good athlete and has excellent straight line speed and projects to be able to attack the seam in the NFL.
— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 4, 2019
Josh Oliver has solid hands, extends away from his frame and does a nice job of elevating for the football. He attacks the ball well at the catch point, has good hand placement and can make catches in contested catch situations. With his straight line speed, those traits are ideal for working the middle of the field and attacking the seams.
Unfortunately, Josh Oliver struggles in a lot of key areas of the tight end position that will probably limit his usage in the NFL.
Oliver isn’t a natural route runner, lacks crispness and explosiveness out of his breaks and generally struggles to create separation. His athletic testing doesn’t suggest that this is anything that is going to improve drastically with his move to the NFL. He’s probably always going to struggle to separate.
Josh Oliver is not a good blocker. He can improve his technique with coaching at the next level, but he doesn’t appear to be strong enough to be a real contributor in this area, even with improved technique. He didn’t test in the bench press at the NFL Combine, so there is no way to back that up with athletic data, but functional strength doesn’t show up consistently on film, and he will be facing far more physical competition at the next level.
I understand the appeal of Josh Oliver as a pass catcher, but his inability to separate and his lack of blocking ability will prevent me from selecting him in dynasty drafts. If I’m gambling on a late round tight end, I would rather take any of the other three from this group.