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2020 NFL Draft Preview: Tight end depth is there for the taking

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The NFL Draft is slated for April 23-25, providing seven rounds for the Broncos and other teams to find their stars of the future. At this point, Denver is slated to have 11 total picks, five of which will fall within the first 95 selections. In other words, John Elway will have plenty of assets to work with throughout the weekend.

What will he do with those picks? That’s anyone’s guess. But in the coming weeks, 1043TheFan.com will provide an overview of the best prospects.

Today, we continue by looking at a position where the Broncos might be looking to add some depth – tight end. Yes, they took Noah Fant in the first round of last year’s draft. And yes, they just signed Nick Vannett in free agency. But the rest of Denver’s tight ends, while talented, are an unreliable bunch. Injuries have derailed Jake Butt, Jeff Heuerman, Troy Fumagalli and others seemingly every season. So if John Elway wants to go a different direction at that position, here are the best options on the board:

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Top Five on the Board

1. Cole Kmet – Kmet blossomed last season, becoming the pass-catching tight end for the Fighting Irish. He hauled in 43 passes for 515 yards and six touchdowns. That’s a sign of what he can do as a receiver, where he excels at getting off the line of scrimmage and running routes. He also has good hands and is able to snare passes out of the air. As a blocker, he needs some work; that part of his game was never really developed in college. But he’s an exceptional athlete who has room to grow.

2. Brycen Hopkins – At Purdue, Hopkins was a big part of the Boilermakers offense. During his senior season, he caught 61 passes for 830 yards and seven touchdowns, in just 11 games. That’s big-time production. The son of former Titans offensive lineman Brad Hopkins, he has good size (6-foot-4, 240 pounds), which makes him a nice target in the passing game. Much like Kmet, his blocking could use some work. But given his background, that seems like an attainable skill.

3. Adam Trautman – As always with a player who excelled at a school like Dayton, people are going to wonder about the level of competition. Such is the case with Trautman, as scouts try to wrap their head around his glossy stats. His senior season saw him catch 70 passes for 916 yards and a whopping 14 touchdowns; that’s huge production from the tight-end position. At 6-foot-5, Trautman has a basketball background, which has certainly helped other players at his position in the past.

4. Harrison Bryant – The questions that hang over Trautman also plague Bryant, as the numbers he posted at Florida Atlantic have a question mark attached to them. It’s hard not to like 65 catches for 1,004 yards and seven touchdowns, however. That said, most scouts see Bryant as a bit of a project. He’s a great athlete who can make plays in the passing game, but he has some work to do in terms of route running. In addition, he’ll have to learn to play with his hand in the dirt; he’s not much of a blocker at this point.

5. Albert Ogwuebunam – Drew Lock’s former teammate at Missouri had his best season when the Broncos quarterback was throwing him passes, hauling in 43 catches in 2018. But he was productive with other signal callers, as well. Ogwuebunam’s best trait is his nose for the end zone. In 31 career games, he caught 23 touchdowns; almost a quarter of his total receptions (98) saw him cross the goal line. At 6-foot-6 and nearly 260 pounds, he’s an enormous target, one that Lock would love to have in the red zone.

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