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NFL Draft prospects: Ranking tight ends heading into the 2023 NFL Draft

We rank the 2023 draft prospects at QB ahead of the NFL Draft.

Utah Utes tight end Dalton Kincaid (86) celebrates during the Pac-12 Championship football game between Utah Utes and USC Trojans on December 2, 2022 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, NV. Photo by Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 2023 NFL Draft will be held in Kansas City, Missouri from Thursday, April 27 through Saturday, April 29. After months of speculation, we will finally know where this class of college players will be starting off their professional football careers. Coverage of the first round can be found on ESPN, ABC and NFL Network starting at 8 p.m. ET.

Tight ends always feel like a tough position to predict. Every team wants to find the next Travis Kelce, but it tends to be a shallower position that has a wide gap of talent between the top of the class and the bottom.

Likely first player off the board

During the 2022 college football season and early into draft prep, it was commonly thought that Notre Dame TE Michael Mayer had a first round draft grade and would be the first tight end selected. Mayer had a poor Combine performance finishing with the third-slowest 40-yard time (4.70), third-shortest vertical jump (32.50 inches), and the fifth-shortest broad jump (9 ft. 10 inches).

Dalton Kincaid didn’t perform at the Combine, but this abstaining benefitted him as he has seemingly vaulted Mayer across draft boards. The Utah product played in 25 career games for the Utes and brought in 107 receptions for 1,414 yards and 16 total touchdowns.

Biggest names

Behind Kincaid and Mayer would be Darnell Washington (Georgia), Luke Musgrave (Oregon State) and Sam LaPorta (Iowa). Washington played second fiddle to Brock Bowers for the Dawgs but still has upside as a prospect. Through 45 career games, he has combined for 774 yards and three touchdowns. He is a plus-blocker and will help open up the offense for whatever team he joins.

Musgrave is in a similar situation. He played 47 career games for the Beavers and had 633 yards and two scores. Musgrave did only play in two games last season due to a knee injury, so there is concern over his injury history. He tested well at the Combine and was turning heads at the Senior Bowl, so could be a solid asset once he adjusts to the NFL.

LaPorta is one of the more experienced tight ends in the class. He played in 40 career games for the Hawkeyes and brought in 153 receptions for 1,786 yards. With that kind of production, you would expect LaPorta to have several scores in his career, but he only had five total touchdowns. Hopefully, that is just a circumstance of his playing for the defensive-minded Iowa, but there is still some concern despite his being well-rounded.


Zack Kuntz from Old Dominion impressed at the Combine. He ran the second-fastest 40-yard dash (4.55 seconds), had the highest vertical (40 inches) and tied for the most reps on the bench press (23). Kuntz started his career at Penn State and then transferred to ODU as a redshirt sophomore using his Covid eligibility. His first year for the Monarchs saw him play 13 games as he brought in 73 catches for 692 yards and five touchdowns.

As good of a Combine as Kuntz had, Miami’s Will Mallory was able to hang with him. He had the fastest 40 for a tight end (4.54), the third-best vertical (36.50 inches) and fifth-best bench press (20). Taking advantage of an extra COVID year, Mallory logged 42 games played for the Hurricanes. He brought in 115 receptions for 1,544 yards and 14 touchdowns. Mallory isn’t getting the draft hype he likely deserves and could develop into a solid talent at the next level.

2023 TE prospect rankings

Player Pos School Pos Rk Overall Rk
Player Pos School Pos Rk Overall Rk
Dalton Kincaid TE Utah 1 19
Michael Mayer TE Notre Dame 2 25
Darnell Washington TE Georgia 3 39
Luke Musgrave TE Oregon State 4 55
Sam LaPorta TE Iowa 5 67
Tucker Kraft TE South Dakota State 6 70
Zack Kuntz TE Old Dominion 7 109
Luke Schoonmaker TE Michigan 8 120
Davis Allen TE Clemson 9 129
Brenton Strange TE Penn State 10 133
Payne Durham TE Purdue 11 167
Will Mallory TE Miami 12 199
Cameron Latu TE Alabama 13 216
Brayden Willis TE Oklahoma 14 247
Michael Ezeike TE UCLA 15 258
Elijah Higgins TE Stanford 16 273
Julian Hill TE Campbell 17 275
Princeton Fant TE Tennessee 18 286