2016 NFL Draft Preview: Will the Seahawks Look to Add Depth at Tight End?

A look at where the Seahawks’ roster currently stands at tight end, and at some of the top prospects in this year’s draft.

With the NFL Draft coming up, Seahawks.com is taking a position-by-position look at where things currently stand with Seattle's roster, as well as the top prospects at each position. We'll also look at Seattle's draft history at each position under general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll.

Seattle currently holds nine picks in the 2016 draft, which begins on Thursday, April 28 in Chicago.

Round 1 | Pick 26 | No. 26 overall

Round 2 | Pick 25 | No. 56 overall

Round 3 | Pick 27 | No. 90 overall

Round 3 | Pick 35 | No. 97 overall*

Round 4 | Pick 26 | No. 124 overall

Round 5 | Pick 34 | No. 171 overall*

Round 6 | Pick 40 | No. 215 overall*

Round 7 | Pick 4 | No. 225 overall (from Dallas)

Round 7 | Pick 26 | No. 247 overall

* - Compensatory Pick (compensatory picks cannot be traded).

So far we've covered the offensive and defensive lines, running backs, linebackers, receivers, cornerbacks, quarterbacks and safeties, today we wrap things up with tight ends.

Draft History (Under Schneider and Carroll)

TE Anthony McCoy* (No. 185 overall, 2010)

TE Luke Willson (No. 158, 2013).

** signifies a player no longer with the team. *

Where the Seahawks Stand

The Seahawks have only drafted two tight ends under Carroll and Schneider, but they were willing to invest significant draft capital in that position last year, sending a first-round pick and center Max Unger to New Orleans for All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham and a fourth-rounder. Graham unfortunately went down with a knee injury late last season just as the passing game started clicking, but the Seahawks are expecting big contributions from Graham in 2016.

Joining Graham at the position is Luke Willson, a former fifth-round pick who in his three seasons with Seattle has gone from pass-catching complement to Zach Miller to an all-around tight end capable of playing nearly every down. Willson, who hast started 17 games over the past two seasons, has 59 catches for 847 yards and five touchdowns in his career, and will again be a big part of Seattle's offensive plans. Rounding out the position group is Cooper Helfet, who has started two games in each of the past two seasons, Ronnie Shields and Brandon Cottom.

While Willson is a proven talent and Helfet has shown himself to be a capable option as well, Shields and Cottom have no regular season NFL experience, which could leave the Seahawks looking to add depth in the draft, especially if Graham isn't going to be ready for the start of training camp. A healthy Graham and Willson figure to see the bulk of the playing time at tight end this season, but the Seahawks definitely could look to add competition for the third tight end spot.

Take a look at NFL Media Analyst Mike Mayock's Top 5 tight ends in the 2016 NFL Draft.

NFL Media Draft Expert Mike Mayock's Top 5 Tight Ends

1. Hunter Henry, Arkansas

Bottom Line (via NFL.com): By far, the premier tight end in the 2016 draft. Henry is a big body with the athleticism to get open, the hands to finish catches in traffic and the blocking ability to help give a running game the additional kick it might be missing on the edge. Henry should come in and become a very good NFL starter.

2. Jerrell Adams, South Carolina

Bottom Line (via NFL.com): Tall and lanky for a tight end, Adams actually has better play strength than the eye­ test might indicate. Adams doesn't have the surest hands in this draft, but he is unique in that he can challenge defenses down the field and shows the potential to be helpful as a run blocker. Adams should come in as a quality backup with an "eventual starter" tag tied to him.

3. Austin Hooper, Stanford

Bottom Line (via NFL.com): Will be labeled as a move tight end, but I see him as being more than that for teams looking for a more complete player. Hooper has a frame that should be able to carry another eight to 10 pounds without much trouble, and he shows enough want­-to as a blocker to see him playing in­line when needed. If Hooper can improve his hands and become craftier with his routes, he could become a solid, 10-­year starter in the league.

4. Nick Vannett, Ohio State

Bottom Line (via NFL.com): Vannett's combination of size and athleticism will be very attractive to teams in search of a combination tight end who can stay on the field and operate from a variety of personnel groupings and formations. Vannett will need to embrace his size and become more aggressive as a blocker, but his athleticism and pass catching ability could turn him into a safety blanket for a quarterback in need of a big, safe target.

5. Beau Sandland, Montana State

Bottom Line (via NFL.com): Sandland was the top-­rated JUCO tight end when he signed with Miami (Fla.) so NFL teams are very aware of his potential. While he is thought of as a pass-­catching tight end, Sandland was required to put in work in the trenches which gives him a small head­ start on some of the tight ends coming out. With an ability to challenge down the field and separate underneath, Sandland has a chance to work his way onto a roster and into some snaps by his second season.


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