April 13, 2024

2024 NFL Draft Sleepers: Tight Ends

3 min read

Sleeper Tight Ends

With the Combine over, it is time to put out my sleeper tight ends for the upcoming draft.  Cody Folden has already given his top 10 tight-end prospects in Part One and Part Two here. I am going to be giving you three more names that are outside the top ten that may surprise people by getting drafted higher than expected. 

Jared Wiley, TE, TCU

Jared Wiley spent his first three years at Texas but only had 19 total catches. In 2022 he decided to transfer within the conference to rival TCU. In his first year, he had more of an impact but targets were limited with over 160 targets going to Quentin Johnston and Derius Davis. With both top receivers leaving, Wiley finished second on the team with 65 targets and having 520 receiving yards with eight touchdowns.

I was underwhelmed with Wiley as a blocker. He was inconsistent and sometimes did not search out a player to block. He was much better in line than out wide in blocking schemes. The positive is that he can be moved all over the place and is very athletic after the catch. In my opinion, he is more like a H-Back and can be used to stretch the middle of a field. I saw him being lethal where he would chip and slip open for huge gains.

 

AJ Barner, TE, Michigan

AJ Barner started off at Indiana in 2020 and had an increase in targets each year. He went from one to 22 to 49 but his highest receiving output was still under 200 yards. Before the 2023 season, he decided to transfer to Michigan where he would be second on the depth chart behind Colston Loveland. He had his highest receiving output with 249 yards but still only had 32 targets. 

Barner is such a hard player to evaluate. His blocking is tremendous and that is going to make a team fall in love with him. He has great technique, secures the edge on runs, and gets to the second level on blocks. On the receiving side, I see glimpses of how productive he could be but he just has not received the target share. He also is a traditional tight end as he lined up on the line 84% of the time. He is a player that I think could be a way better NFL player than a college player.

 

Tanner McLachlan, TE, Arizona

Tanner McLachlan spent his first two years at Southern Utah where he only had 17 targets. In 2022 he transferred to Arizona and saw immediate action. In both seasons he had over 50 targets and he increased his reception and yardage from 2022 to 2023. In two years at Arizona McLachlan only had seven targets over 20 yards. He was used more of a short outlet in the middle of the field to move the chains. 

At 6’5  244 lbs, he has good size and shows that at times while blocking. He looks better in pass blocking in my opinion than run blocking. Initially, he can look solid in run blocking but then eventually gets pushed back. He struggles against quick defenders and can whiff on some blocks. He does have good hands as he only has five drops in his career. I think he would start out as a second tight end and with improvement in technique could see more time.

 

These three sleeper tight ends are not necessarily going to be picked in the first three rounds but they have chances of making an impact on a team’s tight end depth chart.

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