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2023 NFL Scouting Combine: TEs to watch

We discuss the tight ends that are attending the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 29 Indiana State at South Dakota State
Tucker Kraft could move up some big boards by the time the NFL Draft rolls around.
Photo by Bailey Hillesheim/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 2023 NFL Draft tight end class is fairly top-heavy, meaning there seems to be room for movement in the middle of the pack. Here is a look at who is trending up and down on the tight end big board as the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine is upon us.

Who to watch at the NFL Combine: Tight ends trending up

Tucker Kraft, South Dakota State

As star players from smaller schools tend to do, Kraft burst onto the scene later in the draft process. He now appears to be considered among the top five or six tight ends in the draft, which means he could be drafted as early as the late-second to mid-third rounds. He is one of the most versatile tight end targets in this Draft in that he is excellent in the short, medium, and long passing game. He also projects as a borderline-elite red zone target, which could cause a team to reach higher to take him.

Jahleel Billingsley, Texas

Billingsley’s year at Texas was not as illustrious as expected after coming over from Alabama, but his freak athleticism is still there. He caught only three passes for 38 yards in limited action in 2022, but he projects as more of a wide receiver, similar to how Kyle Pitts was viewed coming out of Florida. His ceiling is much lower than Pitts', but the comparison could help him go earlier in the Draft than one may imagine.

TEs trending down ahead of NFL Draft

Luke Schoonmaker, Michigan

Schoonmaker is one of the slower tight end targets on the board and does not project as an elite pass catcher. While he is a guy who can make tough catches in traffic, he may not become more than a chain-moving tight end in short yardage. Still, at 6’6”, he has potential as a red-zone target, and that keeps him in the top-10 TE conversation in this year’s Draft.

Payne Durham, Purdue

Durham, like Schoonmaker, is relatively slow compared to his counterparts meaning he won’t be taking the top off the defense. His ball tracking is also a little below average, meaning that he too often lets the ball get in on him, which may result in more drops at the next level. While he was highly touted for much of the season, it seems like he is trending in the wrong direction heading into Combine and Pro Days.