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The NFL Draft can have a big impact on player value. Below are five tight ends who benefitted from the draft.
Dalton Kincaid, Buffalo
The draft odds for tight ends fluctuated widely in the lead-up to the NFL Draft. Michael Mayer was the favorite to be selected as the first offseason for much of the offseason before a couple-week push of Dalton Kincaid. Kincaid was unable to physically test in the lead-up to the NFL Draft, which led the odds to swing back to Mayer in the final weeks before the draft. This made it a mild surprise that Kincaid was the first tight end selected in the NFL Draft, into arguably one of the best situations. Expectations should be tempered for rookie tight ends, but there is a runway for Kincaid to develop into the second-best option behind Stefon Diggs in a Buffalo Bills offense led by Josh Allen. In terms of quarterback quality, potential target opportunity, and going earlier than expected in the draft, Kincaid hit the trifecta of post-draft rising for a tight end.
Sam LaPorta, Detroit
In a major surprise, Sam LaPorta was selected by the Detroit Lions ahead of Michael Mayer. As a pure pass catcher, LaPorta was the leading receiver in a very bad Iowa offense for two consecutive years, the only tight end from a Power 5 school drafted in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft to accomplish the feat. LaPorta’s production, along with his advanced metrics, points toward a higher potential to be a difference-maker than Mayer. Amon-Ra St. Brown dominates Detroit’s offense, but there is an open spot for the second option in the passing game. LaPorta could fill it.
Irv Smith Jr., Cincinnati
Cincinnati brought in Irv Smith Jr. as a one-year prove-it type investment and passed on the position in the draft. Smith is at the top of a rough Cincinnati depth chart that has Devin Asiasi and Drew Sample as the next two options on the roster. Smith has disappointed to date through a combination of poor play and injuries but has a golden opportunity to revitalize his career in 2023.
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