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The tight end position isn't one of the NFL's most valuable, but many of the league's top teams today seem to be well equipped with at least one who's above average to great.

Travis Kelce of the back-to-back Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs is obviously the gold standard at the position today, from a receiving perspective, while the San Francisco 49ers, the defending NFC champions, have George Kittle, a strong receiver who is an elite blocker in the run game. The emergence of 2023 second-round Sam LaPorta also helped lifted the Detroit Lions to the first division title in decades. 

In the 2024 NFL Draft class, Georgia Bulldogs tight end Brock Bowers is the cream of the crop, drawing many comparisons to Kelce throughout his time in Athens, where he won two national titles in three seasons. 

Who are the best of the rest at the tight position? 

CBS Sports HQ NFL analyst Rick Spielman, the Minnesota Vikings general manager for 16 seasons (2006-2021) presents his analysis from the "With The First Pick" podcast episode that aired on March 22, providing a closer look on a tight end group with many different flavors. This is the fourth position group in CBS Sports' pre-draft position group evaluations with wide receiversrunning backs and quarterbacks each available for enjoyment. Each prospect also includes further analysis from yours truly. Without further ado, the 2024 NFL Draft tight end class.

5. Theo Johnson (Penn State)

  • Height: 6-6 | Weight: 259 pounds
  • Accolades/notable statistics: Seven receiving TD in 2023 (T-3rd most in single season in program history)

 Pro comp: Dallas Cowboys tight end Luke Schoonmaker

"Traditional Y tight end," Spielman said. "I don't think the test numbers at the combine [4.57 40-yard dash, 39.5" vertical jump, 10'5" broad jump, 7.15 three-cone drill, 4.19 20-yard shuttle] showed up on the tape. I think he is an efficient blocker. I think he is a short-to-intermediate route runner. The production, I understand Penn State's offense. I didn't think he was special with the ball in his hands after the catch. He has a large catching radius and can bring the ball in. I just didn't see those test numbers translate to what I have seen on tape. He didn't look as explosive on tape as he did at the combine." 

  • Highest he could get drafted: Third round
  • Lowest he could get drafted: Fourth round

Final Thoughts: Johnson recorded 938 receiving yards and 12 receiving touchdowns on 77 catches across four seasons, but Penn State has an offense that routinely makes you question if they trust quarterback Drew Allar, a five-star recruit. The size and speed fit the part, but he isn't a dominant run blocker even with his athletic gifts. Johnson can win regularly in tight, contested-catch situations, but isn't a YAC machine. The coaching staff that selects him will have a tremendous effect on what his career looks like at the next level. 

4. Cade Stover (Ohio State)

  • Height: 6-4 | Weight: 247 pounds
  • Accolades/notable statistics: 77 receptions, 982 receiving yards and 10 receiving TD in the last two seasons

 Pro comp: Buffalo Bills tight end Dawson Knox

"I think this kid is a jack of all trades, master of none," Spielman said. "It's a good thing because I think he can do everything well. He has a well-rounded game. He just isn't exceptional at one thing. He can block, so he can line up as a traditional Y tight end. He was converted from linebacker to tight end in 2022, so he is still learning and growing at the position. I think he improved his route-running this year. He does have good hands for a guy who was on the defensive side of the ball. I think he is more than athletic enough. I think he can play H, a traditional Y. I think some teams will look at him as a fullback because of his aggressiveness and finish as a run blocker. I'm giving him a compliment as a really good football player across the board who doesn't do anything exceptional, but does everything very well." 

  • Highest he could get drafted: Third round
  • Lowest he could get drafted: Fourth round

Final Thoughts: Cade Stover's development at tight end has been consistently upward. After entering college as a linebacker, he transitioned to the tight end position. In his first season really operating at the position, he caught five passes for 76 yards. Since 2022, he has produced more than some tight ends do in four years with regular playtime: seven receptions, 982 receiving yards and 10 receiving touchdowns (five each season). Stover does a good job at picking up speed throughout his route, and he is a plus as a run blocker. The potential for growth is high given he still very young at the position. He could pay dividends years down the road for whoever drafts him. 

3. Ja'Tavion Sanders (Texas)

  • Height: 6-4 | Weight: 245 pounds
  • Accolades/notable statistics: 2023 All-Big 12 First Team, 99 career receptions (most al -time by Texas tight end)

 Pro comp: Cleveland Browns TE David Njoku

"The Alabama game put him on the map [five catches for 114 yards]," Spielman said. "I don't doubt his receiving skills, but I don't think he is a blocker. He is a receiving tight end only. He is a good athlete. I've always thought his speed was good, not great [4.69 40-yard dash at the combine]. I think he is below average in pass protection. I think this guy is going to be a receiving only kind of guy."

  • Highest he could get drafted: Third round 
  • Lowest he could get drafted: Fourth round

Final Thoughts: Ja'Tavion Sanders is one of the quickest players off the line of scrimmage among the 2024 NFL Draft tight end class. He is a middle-of-the-field weapon who excels at boxing out defenders with his long catch radius. Sanders' blocking games needs plenty of work, which is why he isn't higher on this list. For teams who are specifically looking for a receiving threat at the tight end position, they can't do much better than Sanders. 

2. Ben Sinnott (Kansas State)

  • Height: 6-4 | Weight: 250 pounds
  • Accolades/notable statistics: Two-time First Team All-Big 12 (2022-23), 10 career receiving TD (T-most by TE in KSU history)

 Pro comp: TE Tyler Kroft/poor man's Sam LaPorta

"This kid has a huge chip on his shoulder. He was a walk-on at Kansas State. Overcame that," Spielman said. "When you talk to him, when you watch him play, he's always out to prove people wrong. I think he'll continue to do that in the NFL with everybody that has doubts on this kid. Multiple position player: H-back, fullback, tight end. Really like him as a really good player. Tested well at the combine. Ran in the 4.6's [4.68 40-yard dash], 40-inch vertical jump. All the athletic test numbers I think took people back by how explosive he was in some of those test numbers. I think he is going to come out and carve out a role right away. ... I think he's a little underrated right now, and he could be a surprise contributor next year for whoever selects him."

  • Highest he could get drafted: Second TE drafted, early second round
  • Lowest he could get drafted: End of second round
  • Best team fit: New York Giants (if Darren Waller retires)

Final Thoughts: Sinnott is the biggest riser in this class at the tight end position between his strong combine performance and how he showcased his versatility in 2023 while registering career highs in catches (49), receiving yards (575) and receiving touchdowns (six). The route running is solid, and he has the agility to separate against man coverage on any route plus the physicality and burst to create yards after the catch. Sinnott may need to bulk up in order to win routinely as a blocker at the next level, but there is a lot to work with here. He would thrive with a team that runs a Shanahan-style offense, one that highly values tight end versatility. 

Ben Sinnott snap alignment in 2023 season, per Pro Football Focus:

PositionSnap Alignment Rate

Inline Tight End








Offensive Line 


* One snap 

1. Brock Bowers (Georgia)

  • Height: 6-3 | Weight: 243 pounds
  • Accolades/notable statistics: Most career receptions (175), receiving yards (2,538), receiving TD (26) by TE in SEC history, two-time CFP national champion

 Pro comp: Combination of Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce/San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle

"Yes [Bowers is the consensus top tight end prospect]," Spielman said. "No [I don't question his toughness after returning to Georgia for the Auburn game after having tightrope surgery on his ankle]. Bowers is a special prospect. He is the only for sure first-round tight end."

  • Highest he could get drafted: 10th overall pick
  • Lowest he could get drafted: 20th overall pick
  • Best team fit: New York Jets (Bowers' first potential landing spot at 10th overall)

Final Thoughts: Bowers is one of the best tight end prospects in years, and his abilities as a pass-catcher are such that it wouldn't be crazy for him to officially change positions to become a wide receiver in the NFL. No tight end had more catches, receiving yards or receiving touchdowns than Bowers during his collegiate career from 2021-2023. There were games in which he single-handedly carried the Bulldogs to victory like he did in their game at Auburn in 2023 when he went off for 157 yards and a touchdown on eight catches. Bowers' ability to feast with the ball in his hands after the catch is phenomenal. It's so good that he could take end-around handoffs for 75-yard rushing touchdowns. 

Bowers is the only player in college football to accumulate 25 or more receiving touchdowns and five or more rushing touchdowns in a career since West Virginia All-American Tavon Austin did so from 2009-2012. That's elite, explosive company, especially for a tight end. He can be the hub of a team's passing game like a Travis Kelce.