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2024 Draft Preview: How Big Of A Need Is Tight End?

A look at where the Seahawks stand at tight end heading into the 2024 NFL Draft, as well as draft analyst Rob Rang’s top-ranked prospects at that position.

Draft Preview - Tight Ends

The NFL Draft kicks off next week in Detroit, and while it will be the 15th in Seattle for general manager and president of football operations John Schneider, it will be his first with new head coach Mike Macdonald.

But while there are some adjustments to be made for Schneider and the player personnel department in terms of learning what Macdonald and his coaching staff look for in players, Schneider doesn't see this draft process playing out a whole lot differently than the previous 14 did with Pete Carroll as the head coach.

"There's so much preparation that goes into it, it's going to be the same," Schneider said last month at the NFL Annual Meeting. "The preparation is—really, think of it like a game; you're putting together a game-plan sheet. That's basically what your board looks like. So you're like, 'OK, well that happened, now we're going here. That happened. Now we're going here.' So that's really your preparation, and I don't see it being any different.

"Pete, he was a blast to work with throughout the preparation, and Mike and his staff are the same. It's going to be fun."

Unlike the past two drafts in which Seattle had multiple first and second-round picks thanks to the Russell Wilson trade, the Seahawks have a little less draft capital in 2024, though the 16thoverall pick is still a valuable asset, either to be used on an elite player or perhaps to be traded for a pick later in the first round along with additional picks. The Seahawks have seven total picks heading into the draft, but do not have a second-rounder having sent that to the Giants in last year's trade for Leonard Williams.

So with the draft coming up soon, is taking a position-by-position look at where things currently stand for the Seahawks, as well as the top draft prospects at each position. We'll also look at Seattle's draft history at each position over the past 14 drafts under Schneider.

So far we've covered quarterback, linebacker, offensive line, defensive line, outside linebacker, running back, safety, receiver and cornerback, and today we wrap things up with tight end.

Seattle's 2024 Draft Picks: Round 1, No. 16 overall; Round 3, No. 81 overall (from New Orleans via Denver); Round 4, No. 102 overall (from Washington); Round 4, No. 118 overall; Round 6, No. 179 overall (from Washington); Round 6, No. 192 overall; Round 7, No. 235 overall.

Tight End Draft History Under John Schneider: Anthony McCoy (No. 185 overall, 2010); Luke Willson (No. 158, 2013); Nick Vannett (No. 94, 2016); Will Dissly (No. 120, 2018); Colby Parkinson (No. 133, 2020); Stephen Sullivan (No. 251, 2020; also played DE).

Where the Seahawks Stand

A key move this offseason for the Seahawks was signing Noah Fant to an extension in March before he became an unrestricted free agent, a signing that was significant not just because Fant is a big part of Seattle's offense, but also because their other top tight ends from last season, Colby Parkinson and Will Dissly, both signed elsewhere in free agency.

The Seahawks also added Pharaoh Brown in free agency, a player Schneider described as "in our opinion one of the top two or three blocking tight ends in the National Football League, he brings a nastiness to us." Schneider added that Fant and Brown's "skillsets are going to be really nice. Those two guys working together is going to be a great fit."

So with those two in place, and with Tyler Mabry and special teams standout Brady Russell providing additional depth, the Seahawks are by no means hurting at tight end, but given the significance of that position in today's NFL, they will no doubt look to continue to add there at some point this offseason, quite possibly in next week's draft. The Seahawks haven't selected many tight ends in Schneider's previous 14 drafts, but this could be a year to do so after seeing two leave in free agency.

Rob Rang's Top 5 Tight Ends

Overview: While quarterbacks and wide receivers have understandably gained the most as the NFL has increasingly shifted to more of a passing attack, the use of tight ends has also exploded. Even international pop superstar Taylor Swift has joined in on the fun, famously dating Kansas City Chiefs' superstar Travis Kelce. Recognizing the positional group's significant impact on today's modern NFL offenses, the Seahawks locked in Noah Fant on a multi-year deal before he could hit the open market and brought in veteran Pharoah Brown as a free agent, as well. Seattle also has Tyler Mabry and Brady Russell on the roster, so the club is well stocked at the position despite Will Dissly (Chargers) and Colby Parkinson (Rams) taking their talents south to Los Angeles in the offseason. Even with a solid core at the position, John Schneider might be tempted if this year's top prospect – Georgia's Brock Bowers – were to fall to No. 16 overall. Barring that, the Seahawks may look to fortify the position with a prospect in the middle or later rounds. New offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb helped Jack Westover and Devin Culp earn invitations to the NFL Scouting Combine with breakout seasons during the University of Washington's run to the national championship game. Familiarity with Grubb (and offensive line coach Scott Huff) make these former 'Dawgs logical Day Three fits for the Seahawks with Michigan's A.J. Barner and Illinois' Tip Reiman also good matches.

1. Brock Bowers, Georgia, 6-3, 243, Top 10

It isn't often that a tight end ranks as one of the elite prospects in a given NFL draft but Bowers is an exceptional case. Simply put, he's the best tight end I've ever evaluated at the college level. The Napa, CA native traveled across the country to sign with Georgia and has dominated the SEC ever since, becoming a three-time All-American and the first back-to-back winner in the history of the John Mackey Award as the nation's top tight end. He's cat-quick, tough to tackle due to both contact balance and desire and possesses soft hands.

2. Ja'Tavion Sanders, Texas, 6-4, 245, Second-Third Round

Sanders lacks the aforementioned Bowers' buzz but he's a legitimate mismatch monster in his own right. He earned First Team All-Big 12 accolades from both league coaches and the media each of the past two seasons and leaves Texas as the program's all-time leading receiver among tight ends with 99 grabs, generating 1,295 yards and seven scores over the past 27 games. Better yet, having turned 21 in late March, Sanders appears to be just scratching the surface of his ability, showing even better speed on the field than his 4.69-second time at the Combine would suggest, as well as agility and soft hands.

3. Cade Stover, Ohio State, 6-4, 247, Second-Third Round

The Seahawks have long prioritized versatility and leadership and Stover certainly checks those boxes, bouncing between linebacker, defensive end and tight end during his Ohio State career. The switches kept Stover from putting up eye-popping statistics over his career, but given all the talent in Columbus, that should surprise no one. He was named the Big Ten's TE of the Year in 2023 once allowed to focus on one position. His tape is full of impressive plays, suggesting that Stover, a two-time team captain, may very well enjoy more statistical success in the NFL than he ever did in college.

4. Ben Sinnott, Kansas State, 6-4, 250, Second-Third Round

With all due respect to Bowers, the unquestioned lead "Dawg" at tight end this year, no one in college football played the position any better in 2023 than the Wildcats' Sinnott, an All-American who caught more passes (49) for more yards (676) and touchdowns (six) than any tight end in KSU history. Sinnott was featured in KSU's offense and is more of an H-back than a full-service tight end. His inability to hold up at the line of scrimmage limits his fit in some offenses but he's an Energizer Bunny as a pass-catcher, inspiring teammates with difficult grabs and rumbles after the catch.

5. Jared Wiley, TCU, 6-6, 249, Third-Fourth Round

Of course, if production is all one is looking for then TCU's Wiley would like a word as no tight end in the country finished with more than his eight touchdown receptions a year ago. Originally at the University of Texas, Wiley helped the Horned Frogs make a run to the 2022 national title game, immediately boosting the team's versatility on offense. He offers an exciting blend of size, speed and soft hands, reminding me a bit of former Seahawk Colby Parkinson.

NFL Draft analyst Rob Rang ranked his top tight ends for the 2024 NFL Draft.

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