The Chicago Bears have talent at tight end, but adding a dynamic player at the position is still a need for the team heading into the 2017 NFL Draft.
When the Chicago Bears traded Martellus Bennett last offseason, it left a big void at the tight end position. Zach Miller became the default starter, and while he had solid production, his biggest bugaboo (injuries) struck again. Even when healthy, Miller hardly struck fear into opponents, and unlike other tight ends in the league, he was not a nightmare cover.
The Bears added another tight end last month in Dion Sims. While seen more as a blocker that receiver, the Bears believe he has just scratched the surface of his potential. Regardless, the tight end position is kind of “blah” for the Bears, and adding a more dynamic player in the draft should be a priority.
With this being said, here are some the better options the Bears have in the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft:
Howard is seen as the most complete and polished tight end in this draft class. He is a mismatch in the receiving game, possessing the ideal size-speed combination that Pro Bowl tight ends have. As a blocker, Howard graded-out as Pro Football Focus’ number one run-blocking tight end in college last season. Include all of this with a terrific set of hands, and Howard is garnering top-ten attention.
David Njoku, Miami
Seen more of a project than Howard, Njoku has a ton of upside. He has elite speed and size, and with the ball in his hands, Njoku can make things happen. He averaged 11.2 yards after the catch in 2016, which are eye-popping numbers for a tight end. His blocking is still a question mark, but his huge upside makes him a near first-round lock.
Gerald Everett, South Alabama
Possessing great short-area quickness and burst, Everett forced 24 missed tackles in 2016, by far more than any other collegiate tight end. His blocking and route running are still raw, but if given proper coaching, he should be able to quickly improve. After a terrific Scouting Combine performance (22 bench reps, 37.5-inch vertical, 126-inch broad jump), Everett is also considered a potential first-round pick, but he could slip to the Bears in the second round.
Engram has often been compared to Washington Redskins’ Pro Bowl tight end Jordan Reed. Engram is terrific when lined up in the slot where he can use his athleticism and speed to create mismatches against linebackers and safeties. He has major question marks as a blocker, but his receiving ability alone should make him a fringe first-to-second-round pick.
Bucky Hodges, Virginia Tech
Hodges can be compared to former Pro Bowl tight end Julius Thomas. His 6-6 frame and outstanding leaping ability makes Hodges an outstanding threat in the red zone, but he won’t offer much else. His production in between the 20s is limited at best, and his blocking offers something to be desired. Hodges could be a fringe second- or third-round pick.
First off, what a terrific name for a tight end! Butt isn’t the best blocker or receiver, but his size and hands make him an intriguing option. A torn ACL suffered in December will make him tumble down the boards, but Butt should be drafted by the fourth or fifth round.