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Early Look: TE draft prospects

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PlayStation Fiesta Bowl - Penn State v Washington Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Baltimore Ravens have been missing a playmaker at tight end since Dennis Pitta suffered a serious hip injury during training camp in 2013. Veteran Ben Watson led the team in receptions last season, but is likely to retire this offseason. Nick Boyle is a quality blocker, but does not provide the skillset to scare defenses in the passing game. Maxx Williams will have earn playing time after two disappointing seasons. The other tight ends under contract are primarily special teams contributors.

As the NFL game has continued to evolve, pass catching tight ends have become significant difference makers. Many of the best offenses in the league feature dynamic tight ends. Acquiring a tight end who creates favorable matchups should be a top priority for the Ravens in the 2018 draft.

Five intriguing tight end prospects:

  • Mike Gesicki, Penn State

With Grokowski-esque size, Gesicki is a physical mismatch for most defenders. The All-American uses impressive hands to elevate and win at the catch point. As a senior, he posted 57 receptions for 563 yards and nine touchdowns. Mike is a solid blocker who has a knack for finding the soft spots against zone coverage. His speed also allows him to maximize yards after the catch.

  • Mark Andrews, Oklahoma

A polished route runner with reliable hands and good size, Andrews served as Baker Mayfield’s top target last season. Another All-American, Mark produced 22 scores in three season with the Sooners. He plays like a faster version of Pitta, comfortable in the slot, shifty and elusive after the catch. Andrews will need to improve his ball security at the next level.

  • Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State

This two-time FCS All-American is athletic and agile with the speed to stretch the seams. Against TCU in 2016, the best defense the Jackrabbits faced, Goedert’s stat line was 5-96-1. Dallas possesses soft hands, shoots upfield quickly after the catch and demonstrated an ability to break tackles.

  • Hayden Hurst, South Carolina

Hurst was a team captain and centerpiece of the Gamecocks offense. His speed stands out, he has another gear to run away from defensive backs downfield. A versatile prospect who often split out wide, ran sweeps and even returned punts on occasion. He will be a 25 year old rookie due to a previous baseball career. While not as productive as some of the others on this list, Hayden has prototypical measurements, strong hands and is slippery after the catch.

  • Troy Fumagalli, Wisconsin

A lanky All-Big 10 performer with a huge catch radius. Fumagalli developed into an excellent route runner during his four seasons with the Badgers. Despite lacking bulk, Troy exhibits sound blocking technique. The main issue with Fumagalli is that he does not offer much after the catch, as he often went down on first contact.