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2014 Composite Rookie TE Rankings

They’re baaack. Rookie Rankings! If you’re a long-timer, you may recall last season’s inaugural rookie rankings. Herein begins the second annual installment. I think you’ll like it.

First, an editor’s note on methodology. The RotoViz writing crew ranked TEs and QBs 1-15, and then ranked RBs and WRs 1-30. The number of players ranked is roughly based on how many players are selected at each position in the draft each year. Those ranks were then used to generate a Composite Score so that we can get both raw rankings, and also tiers (visualized in the graph below).

The way this works is as follows: a ranking of 1 for a running back gives that player a score of 30, a 2 gets the player a 29, and so on (note that for QBs and TEs the max score a player could get would be a 15). The score is essentially the inverse of the rank. Then we average the score for each of our writers to get the Composite Score. Again, the point of doing this extra step is to get to tiers for each position. Also, this overcomes an issue seen in ADP data, where a player like Tim Tebow will be taken in a small number of drafts, but will infect the average position data because he’s drafted highly in that small subset. This will make more sense after you’ve viewed the graph below.

Meet your TE Rankers: RotoViz Staff aka Fantasy Douche, Shawn Siegele, Matthew Freedman, Jon Moore, Scott Smith, James Todd, Davis Mattek, Zach Dietz, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, and Ross Eagles.

Lastly, you can best frame this discussion by getting familiar with Jon Moore‘s excellent Phenom Index for Tight Ends and Weighted Agility metrics. Two other helpful background pieces are this in depth look at the components of a successful TE and this visualization of two important variables – Age and Dominator Rating.

Let’s get to it.

Here’s the chart showing the two measures by which TEs are ranked. On the vertical axis you’ll see their Composite Score. On the horizontal axis you’ll find their overall Composite Rank. Following the chart, we’ll discuss the prospects by Tiers.

Composite 2014 Rookie TE Rankings


Tier One

Eric Ebron

PLAYER Score # Rankers High Rank Low Rank
Eric Ebron 14.6 10 1 2
  • Fantasy Douche: Here’s a situation where I can see Ebron being worth a top 20 pick: an NFL team just drafts him as if he’s a receiver and gives him the targets to go along with that idea. Here’s a situation where he won’t be worth a top 20 pick: an NFL team drafts him and then asks him to do a bunch of blocking. It’s not that he’s a bad blocker, although he’s rumored to be. It’s that run blocking just isn’t worth that much. How much did the Colts spend on Dwayne Allen? That’s probably the market for a dual threat TE.
  • Jon Moore: Everyone wants to make the Vernon Davis comparison, but the athleticism isn’t really close and I have concerns about his ability to score TDs, which is what separates above-average TEs from elite ones.
  • Matthew Freedman: What Jon said. Ebron’s young — but his athleticism doesn’t strike me as being anything particularly special. A better Brandon Pettigrew? That’s kind of what I think.
  • Davis Mattek: He’s good. He measures out pretty solid in all the categories you care about but he didn’t destroy any of the drills and didn’t score an absurd amount of TD’s in college. He leaves me feeling more meh than he should.
  • WTF: Where’s Gator Hoskins? I declare shenanigans.
  • James Todd: He’s definitely not Vernon Davis. Although closer, he’s also not Brandon Pettigrew. He’s much younger and faster for starters, and was a more important piece of his college offense. I think the TD concerns are alleviated somewhat by his usage profile, but others are right to note he’s neither Vernon Davis,nor Rob Gronkowski. He’s still the best of class, and should be drafted high enough to make him a desirable dynasty target. Of 206 TEs drafted since 2005, here’s where Ebron ranks on the most significant variables in my model: Market share of team pass targets (23rd), best Dominator Rating (59th), Rookie Age (6th), Height Adjusted Speed Score (36th).


Austin Seferian-Jenkins

PLAYER Score # Rankers High Rank Low Rank
Austin Seferian-Jenkins 14.1 10 1 3
  • Fantasy Douche: I really hope he gets healthy and we see what he can do. I’ll be really bummed if the foot thing plagues him during his entire career.
  • Jon Moore: One of the youngest, most-dominant TEs since Gronk, ASJ is a redzone nightmare.  His athleticism is unknown because he missed workouts with foot injuries, but I think he has the best chance to become a dominant NFL TE.
  • James Todd: Well, the foot injury appears completely healed. ASJ has the best red zone chops of the three, and the best single-season Dominator Rating as well. The questions for ASJ basically boil down to two things: because of the foot injury, we don’t know how athletic he is. We also don’t know why his third and final season fell so short of his previous season. Take a look at the dropoff:
Season Tgt Rec Yds TDs msYds msTDs
2012 96 69 852 8 0.31 0.37
2013 52 36 450 7 0.15 0.35
  • Was the decline due to the foot injury, or something else? If it was the foot, how long did he play on it injured, and what are the repercussions? Personally I’m giving him full credit for his excellent second season, on the theory that “once you show a skill, you own that skill.” But I think it would also be fair to discount him somewhat based on his dropoff. Finally, consider this nugget: in 2013, ASJ only once topped 5 catches in a game (against an FCS opponent), and his season high for receiving yardage was 62. Eric Ebron topped 62 yards seven different times last season.


Jace Amaro

PLAYER Score # Rankers High Rank Low Rank
Jace Amaro 13.3 10 1 3
  • Fantasy Douche: This is really probably a three way tie for me as I’m primarily giving the #1 spot to Ebron based on draft position.
  • Jon Moore: Any other year and he might be the #1 TE prospect.  He’s in the same tier as ASJ and Ebron, but plays third fiddle.
  • Davis Mattek: I think I am the only ranker who has Amaro this high [first overall] and it’s pretty simple. When a player is as dominant as Amaro was (and MAN, he was dominant) it projects pretty well to the next level. There are questions with Ebron and especially ASJ’s production, but there just isn’t any with Amaro. He profiles, production wise, like a WR but has the requisite athletic profile to be a high effiency tight end.
  • James Todd: Amaro is indeed a high quality prospect. It’s also fair to say that there’s not a lot of separation between the top three. Amaro has slightly better production than Ebron but is slightly less athletic. He’s also older, but still below the threshold for the best TEs coming out of college. He’s better in the red zone that Ebron, but not as good as ASJ. He’s also the most agile of the three, which matters.

Tier Two

There’s a pretty clear dropoff between Tier One and Tier Two, where Troy Niklas comes in nearly 3 points behind the big three. It’s also worth noting that Niklas, Fiedorowicz, and Leonard have virtually identical scores; they’re bunched even more closely than the three above.

Troy Niklas

PLAYER Score # Rankers High Rank Low Rank
Troy Niklas 10.6 10 4 7
  • Fantasy Douche: Probably a better real TE prospect than fantasy prospect.
  • James Todd: That’s it. No other ranker had a comment, which says something about our collective opinion I guess. We like him, just not enough to really speak up about him. It’s worth noting that he began his collegiate career at linebacker. He switched to TE full time as a sophomore, but was stuck behind Tyler Eifert. So he really only has a single season of starting TE experience. The optimistic way to think about that is that he’s probably not reached his ceiling, in terms of understanding the nuances of being a TE. On the flip side, in order to develop those skills, he’ll require patience from his future NFL team (and dynasty owners).


C.J. Fiedorowicz

PLAYER Score # Rankers High Rank Low Rank
C.J. Fiedorowicz 10.5 10 4 8
  • Jon Moore: CJ is a weight-adjusted agility star with a strong history of converting red zone targets into touchdowns.  He’s not a sexy option between the 20s, but I think he’s the best option after the big 3.
  • James Todd: Indeed a red zone asset. Take a look at the red zone TD rates for our top five prospects:


A.C. Leonard

PLAYER Score # Rankers High Rank Low Rank
A.C. Leonard 10.0 10 4 9
  • Fantasy Douche: I’m a little lower on Leonard than the other guys. Primarily I just have a problem with a 6’2″ TE.
  • Jon Moore: A poor man’s Ebron at a much better price. I’m tempted to rank him higher but suspect he may fall far in the draft, limiting his early-career opportunities. Definitely a dynasty stash though!
  • James Todd: A very good athlete. Athletically, he’s very similar to Aaron Hernandez:
Name Ht Wt BMI 40 yd Vert Broad Agility Explosion HASS
A.C. Leonard 74 252 32.4 4.5 34 128 11.54 162 124.1
Aaron Hernandez 74 250 32.1 4.64 33 111 11.01 144 108.88


  • But like ASJ, his production declined significantly from 2012 to 2013, despite playing in two more games in his final season. He also recorded 122 of his 441 yards, and 2 of his 5 TDs in a single game vs.Tennessee Tech. Take that game away and his final season was 29 catches for 319 receiving yards and 3 TDs. Compare that to 2012, when he had 3 separate 100 yard receiving games, a 90 yard game, and an 89 yard game en route to a 51/733/6 line. His athleticism may make him a dynasty stash, but there are definitely concerns about his production.


Colt Lyerla

PLAYER Score # Rankers High Rank Low Rank
Colt Lyerla 8.7 10 4 15
  • Scott Smith: I do not think there is a great TE in this draft…I actually think Lyerla is the best talent of this group and would have him ranked #1 if he hadn’t quit at Oregon and gotten arrested for cocaine. Problem is…he’s one strike away from being the Ryan Leaf of TEs…except his meltdown started in college.
  • Davis Mattek: So, an uber athletic, formerly productive TE with a cocaine problem? Yeahhh… I’ll draft him on my dyno teams and buy the kid lunch. #IHaveAType
  • James Todd: Yes, he’s very very athletic. But even in the single season he managed to stick on his college team, he accounted for less than 10% of his team’s pass targets. There are 45 such TEs in my database of 206. Only 2 of them have become successful NFL TEs (Jordan Cameron, Jimmy Graham). Graham is roughly 4 inches and 20 pounds bigger. Cameron is 2  inches taller, and even faster than Lyerla, on both a raw and height-adjusted basis. Don’t expect much from Lyerla, unless perhaps he puts his surprisingly good running credentials to work in an H-Back type role.

Tier Three

Our commentary starts thinning out from here on down, but if you want some more thoughts about any of these players, hit us up in the comments. Check the table at the end of the post to see just how varied our rankings were for these guys.

Arthur Lynch

PLAYER Score # Rankers High Rank Low Rank
Arthur Lynch 6.1 10 6 15
  •  JT: Like Lyerla, Lynch’s best college season saw him gather less than 10% of his team’s pass targets. Add to that his advanced age (24.5), and he makes a poor dynasty target.

Joe Don Duncan

PLAYER Score # Rankers High Rank Low Rank
Joe Don Duncan 5.9 9 5 14
  • Matthew Freedman: He’ll be 25 years as old as a rookie, which is ancient, but I don’t think he has any real weaknesses to his game. He can do everything a TE is required to do as a blocker, and with his 10.5-inch hands (the largest of any receiver at the combine) he can more than adequately catch the ball. I could see him turning into what people want James Casey to be. Think Charles Clay, except 20 lbs heavier.
  • Jon Moore: We don’t know much about this guy except that he’s 24yo+, has a lengthy injury history, and dominated the lower divisions.  He reminds me of 2013’s Charles Johnson in a lot of ways, but is too interesting to slide much further.
  • James Todd: I don’t have anything to add. I’m not very sanguine on him, but Matt the Oracle is, and I like to pay attention to his recommendations. At House RotoViz, his picks often (rightly) go against the grain.


Crockett Gillmore

PLAYER Score # Rankers High Rank Low Rank
Crockett Gillmore 5.5 9 7 13
  • James Todd: He has youth on his side, and he’s very explosive. Has Anthony FasanoBrent Celek upside, if that’s your cup of tea.

The Rest

A few quick comments from the rankers on some of the other prospects:

  • FD wrote about Jake Murphy here.
  • FD had this to say about Larry Webster: “Webster may end up playing defense, in which case I just wasted a ranking. But if he did play offense it would be kind of exciting. He’s 6-6 and ran a 4.58.”
  • Honorable mention goes to Jordan Najvar for a “legit Game of Thrones name.”
  • Regarding Gator Hoskins, FD had this to say: “If I were an NFL team I would just draft Hoskins to be a 3rd down back. I’d probably be fired shortly thereafter but damn what a run I would have had.”

Individual Rankings

Peruse the table below to see our individual ranks.

(Note: FD = Fantasy Douche, SS = Shawn Siegele, MF = Matthew Freedman, JM = Jon Moore, SS2 = Scott Smith, JT = James Todd, DM = Davis Mattek, ZD = Zach Dietz, WTF = Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, RE = Ross Eagles, COMP = Composite Rank; also, a 99 was used as a faux-last-place holder in order to make the table sortable)

Eric Ebron11221122111
Austin Seferian-Jenkins23112231222
Jace Amaro32333313333
Troy Niklas55756655644
C.J. Fiedorowicz46848574455
A.C. Leonard94465466976
Colt Lyerla6761247475157
Arthur Lynch1189101015981368
Joe Don Duncan1412589998101189
Crockett Gillmore7991111111010137910
Jake Murphy81012141413119121111
Richard Rodgers101310913121411101212
Gator Hoskins159997711999989913
Xavier Grimble9911131312151214991014
Larry Webster1214159999999912151415
Blake Annen9915991599991515141316
Rob Blanchflower999914999999999999917
Jacob Pedersen999999999989999999918
Marcel Jensen9999999999991399999919
Jordan Najvar1399999999999999999920
Michael Flacco9999999915999999999921



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