Everyone is going to try and pick Rob Gronkowski or Travis Kelce in the second or third round of the draft. Why not wait and take a sleeper? Tight ends can be a hard position to predict, but you could get lucky. Just ask anybody who waited until the last round in their 2017 draft to take Evan Engram. You can be that person in 2018, or you can pounce on one of these guys, who are primed for a big season.
Howard was arguably the best tight end prospect since Rob Gronkowski when he entered the draft last season. An injury ended his season early, and Howard showed flashes of brilliance while he was on the field. Dirk Koetter will be coaching for his job this season, and he’ll need to put all his best players on the field. That means it’s time to take the training wheels off of Howard, who averaged an astonishing 16.6 yards per reception during his rookie campaign. Howard should overtake Cameron Brate as the number one tight end in 2018, and he should help lead the Buccaneers offense to a resurgence.
Njoku was another rookie tight end in 2017 who showed impressive flashes of brilliance during his rookie campaign. He caught 32 passes for 386 yards and four touchdowns, and those numbers are about to shoot through the roof with Tyrod Taylor at quarterback. Taylor loves throwing to his tight ends, and a young, large, athletic target like Njoku will be a great security blanket for him. With a receiver combination of Jarvis Landry and Josh Gordon, Njoku might have a lot of room to work in the middle of the field.
Kittle seemed to get better as the season went along, and once Jimmy Garoppolo took over, the two looked like they were on the same page. The numbers don’t really reflect how in sync the two looked on Sundays. That should only get better as Garoppolo moves into his first full year as a starter. With a better receiving corps, Kittle should see his 63 targets increase and hit somewhere around 80. Garoppolo will be able to get Kittle the ball on a consistent basis, and his production will be much better in year two.