2015 NFL Draft: Intriguing Tight Ends to Watch

The 2015 NFL Draft begins on Thursday, April 30 in Chicago, Illinois. 

2015 NFL Draft Schedule

Date

Round(s)

Time

Thursday, April 30

1

7pm CT

Friday, May 1

2-3

6pm CT

Saturday, May 2

4-7

11am CT

The NFL has seen what a versatile tight end can bring to an offense.

Whether it's Rob Gronkowski with the New England Patriots, Jimmy Graham now with the Seattle Seahawks or Travis Kelce with the Kansas City Chiefs, the combination of size and speed these guys possess makes for tough decisions on how defensive coordinators are supposed to plan their personnel packages to defend them.

So while the NFL is a matchup-driven league, all eyes focus on the next crop of tight ends available to join teams in the next few weeks.

Below is a quick look at five names of guys who are intriguing prospects in this NFL Draft:

Worth noting: It's not a ranking, nor all-inclusive of tight ends available who could make an impact in the NFL

Michigan's Devin Funchess

Whether he's considered a tight end or a wide receiver at the NFL level is a matter of preference.

At the NFL Scouting Combine last February, Funchess (6'4", 232 pounds) said he's comfortable in either role.

"I really went from wide receiver to tight end, back to wide receiver," he said. "Coming out of high school, I played wide receiver and then they moved me to tight end."

When lined up as a receiver last season, Funchess had 62 receptions for 733 yards and four touchdowns for the Wolverines.

According to NFL Network's Charles Davis, Funchess is the top-ranked tight end in the upcoming draft.

Funchess Pro Day Results

40-yard dash: 4.47 and 4.53 seconds

20-yard short shuttle: 4.48 seconds

3-cone drill: 6.98 seconds

Minnesota's Maxx Williams

041515-IntriguingTEs-IMage.jpg

After making the decision to leave college with two eligible seasons remaining, Williams heads into the draft as NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock's No. 1 tight end.

At 6-foot-4 and 249 pounds, Williams was a consistent playmaker for the Gophers offense.

In his two collegiate seasons, Williams averaged an impressive 16.2 yards per catch from the tight end position. He had 61 receptions for 986 yards and 13 touchdowns for Minnesota.

That means for every five receptions, one of them was a touchdown, which isn't bad.

Williams has pretty good bloodlines as well, considering both his father and grandfather played in the NFL with the New York Giants and Chicago Bears, respectively.

Williams just turned 21 years old on April 12, and his position coach back at Minnesota believes he'll only continue to get better.

"As he gets into the right system," Minnesota tight ends coach Rob Reeves said, "they'll develop him a lot more because of how good of an athlete he is. He hasn't scratched the surface with how good he can be.

"He was born with some things that a lot of people aren't."

Williams Combine Results

40-yard dash: 4.78 seconds (Rank: No. 3)

20-yard short shuttle: 4.37 seconds (Rank: T-3)

Vertical Jump: 34.5 inches (Rank: No. 5)

Miami's Clive Warford

After playing just one season of high school football in Florida, Clive Warford (6'4", 251 pounds) made a name for himself at the University of Miami.

Last season, he led them with 44 receptions for 676 yards and seven touchdowns. Throughout the year, Warford lined up outside, in the slot and as a traditional in-line tight end in a three-point stance.

But without much experience heading into college, it took one special moment during his sophomore year to give him the confidence that he could be special.

"I'll never forget it," he told College Football 24/7. "We played at Kansas State. I caught a 5-yard route and took it for 56 yards. I knew I could do big things then."

Take a look at some of the more intriguing 2015 tight end prospects.

Since that moment more than two years ago, Warford has done enough to be listed as NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock's No. 2 ranked tight end.

Back at the Senior Bowl, Mayock said Warford is the "most explosive tight end" in this draft.

Warford is hoping to be the next in line of successful NFL tight ends to come from Miami, which include Jeremy Shockey, Greg Olsen, Bubba Franks and Jimmy Graham.

Lance Zierlein of NFL.com believes Warford's ability to succeed as both a blocker and receiving threat will help him throughout the pre-draft process.

"With teams looking for versatile TEs to create matchups in two-TE sets, Walford's stock should be high," he wrote.

South Alabama's Wes Saxton

At 6-foot-3 and 248 pounds, Saxton played one season at Itawamba (Miss.) Community College before transferring to South Alabama.

"The JUCO (junior college) level really made me grow up as a person and in the sport," Saxton told Dane Brugler of CBS Sports. "Coming from a JUCO school, it really helped me. When I was looking to transfer, Mississippi State, Memphis, Arkansas State, Tennessee and South Alabama were interested. I liked the South Alabama coaches and I noticed the offense - it ran through the tight end and I wanted to be a part of that."

Saxton had 96 receptions for 1,126 yards and one touchdown in his three-year career at South Alabama. He could be the first player in the history of the South Alabama program to be drafted. He's currently projected as a fifth or sixth-round pick by NFL.com.

Saxton had the second-fastest 40-yard dash time of all tight ends at the NFL Scouting Combine at 4.65 seconds and also the third-best marks at the vertical (36.0) and broad jumps (9'11").

According to Zierlein, Saxton "has traits that have opened the eyes of some scouts. He can run and has the length and hands of an NFL tight end."

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