Tuesday Draft Notes: Pre-Combine 2.0

nfl's picture

Tony Pauline

Draft Analyst Writer

Pre-combine positional boards are being set around the league, and there are a few surprises. In this week’s edition of Tuesday Draft Notes, we look at the tight ends and pick up where we left off on the offensive linemen from a week ago.

The top spots at the tight end position in the 2018 NFL Draft have been subject to much debate around the league. Yet in conversations, we found that most teams grade Ian Thomas of Indiana, Dallas Goedert of South Dakota State and Hayden Hurst from South Carolina as the top three, with the final order still to be determined. Combine results will weigh heavily on the final board.

Slightly behind those three is Mike Gesicki of Penn State.

Thomas’ story is rather amazing. The Hoosiers senior was not even rated by scouts entering the season but now moves towards the draft as a potential top-42 selection. The Baltimore native transferred to Indiana from Nassau County Community College and went from three receptions and no touchdowns as a junior in 2016 to 25 receptions and five TDs last season. His average of 15 yards per catch ranked second among Big Ten tight ends.

Thomas, considered a true blue-collar prospect, has chosen to stay at IU to train for the combine rather than attend a facility. I’m told he expects to run in the 4.6s during his workout after tipping the scales between 255 and 258 pounds. Thomas measured 6-foot-3 and three-eighths and 256 pounds at the Senior Bowl.

Goedert practiced for one day at the Senior Bowl before departing with a significant hamstring injury. I was told last week that there’s still no final decision on what he will do at the combine. Most I’ve spoken with believe that if there is a tight end to be selected in Round 1, it will be Goedert.

Last week, I read on Rotoworld that some in the league believe Hurst, who will be 25 years old this season, is maxed out physically. This means you get what you see with Hurst, and I see a very solid tight end who is well-versed in all areas of the position but not outstanding in any. In my own opinion, Hurst is a solid mid-round pick rather than the potential top-45 choice some teams have him pegged as.

Mark Andrews and Dalton Schultz are both graded as fringe third-round selections. Forty time is critical for Andrews, who must overcome the opinion held by many in the league that he’s a product of the Oklahoma system. It’s an opinion I do not share.

Troy Fumagalli of Wisconsin is graded as a fifth-rounder, as teams feel he’s nothing more than a No. 2 tight end. And as we posted during our Monday Musings column a week ago, Jordan Thomas is stamped as a late-rounder who will need time before he’s ready to step on an NFL field.

Going back to the offensive line, several teams have James Daniels of Iowa graded as the No. 2 center in the draft and feel he could land in the second round.

No one comes close to Quenton Nelson of Notre Dame at guard, but it’s a dog fight after that with teams split between Isaiah Wynn of Georgia and Will Hernandez from UTEP. Several teams have both graded as potential first-rounders yet believe only one will be a top-32 choice.