The Reese’s Senior Bowl arrives next week, with practices starting Tuesday and running until Saturday’s game. Over the past few seasons, we have seen some of the best talents in the draft go through Mobile, this year they gave juniors eligibility to attend the game opening up the talent pool. This will allow them to get one-on-one time with NFL coaching staff and personnel to help boost their draft stock. Over the next few days, I’ll preview some of the top names at the skill positions at this year’s event, continuing below with tight ends.

 

This year's tight end class is much weaker than the 2023 class overall but is headlined by the best prospect we have seen in years, Brock Bowers. After this it is fairly open to the field, Ja’Tavion Sanders feels like the next man up, but one of these six tight ends at the Senior Bowl could push him with an impressive week in Mobile. 

(Check out the other Senior Bowl position previews: QB | RB | WR)

Theo Johnson, Penn State 

6-foot-6, 258 pounds 

Theo Johnson is yet another quality tight end prospect coming out of Penn State. He has amassed 938 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns during his four-year career. This past season was the breakout year setting career highs in all statistical categories — 34 receptions, 341 yards and 7 touchdowns. 

Johnson is extremely agile for his size and creates plenty of yards after the catch due to both that and his ferocious running style. He moves more like a wide receiver than a tight end more often than not, showing above-average speed and quickness. He is a reliable target underneath with soft but strong hands and can stretch a defense while making plays down the field with ease. Sadly, he has seen a limited route tree that hasn’t allowed him to become a polished route runner. In addition, he will need to strengthen his form in the blocking game as he tends to get moved by defenders with ease. Johnson has plenty of raw traits and tools, but he will need some time to develop into an every-down player at the NFL level. 

Ben Sinnott, Kansas State 

6-foot-4, 245 pounds 

Ben Sinnott is coming off of two productive seasons in which he amassed a combined 1,123 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns after switching from fullback to tight end. This past season he set career highs in both receiving yards (676) and touchdowns (6), both leading the Wildcats. 

Sinnott is at his best in the blocking game, which is no surprise as a former fullback. He has a knack for climbing to the second level in the run game and blocking multiple defenders in a single play. He displays good strength and anchoring in pass-blocking sets as well. Sinnott lacks the speed to take the top off the defense or threaten the seam regularly, but he is a precise route runner who shows enough quickness to separate with ease. He is a hands catcher with a good catch radius, but has struggled with drops at times. It may take some refining for Sinnott to become an every down NFL player, but he has all the building blocks. 

Jaheim Bell, Florida State 

6-foot-1, 229 pounds

Jaheim Bell was once thought of as a top-tier tight end in this class (and he may still be), but his draft stock has seemingly dropped recently. The main reason for this is his size — standing only 6-foot-1, 229 pounds, he is very much a tweener, limiting his upside at the NFL level. On the flip side, we can't ignore the fact he has three straight seasons of 490-plus scrimmage yards, putting up 1,260 career receiving yards and 13 scrimmage touchdowns (9 receiving, 4 rushing). 

On the tape, Bell’s ability to create after the catch pops off the screen, displaying good vision and tremendous speed once the ball is in his hands, which is rare for tight ends. Now, the issues lie in his lack of strength in both the blocking game and within routes as he can be manipulated easily. If he is free off the line he has the agility to create separation within routes and can test a defense deep. Marrying this with plus ball tracking and good hands makes him a great receiving threat. The aforementioned lack of size will be the biggest hurdle for Bell, if he can overcome this or find a perfect scheme fit at the NFL level he’ll succeed. 

Jared Wiley, TCU 

6-foot-6, 259 pounds

Jared Wiley is a fifth-year senior who started his college career at Texas, amassing 248 yards over three seasons. He decided to transfer to TCU in 2022 and saw his production increase. Wiley produced 765 yards and 12 scores over the past two seasons for the Horned Frogs. A majority of this production came this year, producing 520 receiving yards and scoring 8 touchdowns (fourth in the Big-12). 

Wiley is a natural playmaker who can create with the ball in his hands and has enough agility to threaten a defense as a route runner. His hands are above average, but he does look slightly uncomfortable transitioning from receiver to runner. His routes are great against man coverage but lacks the knack to decipher zone coverages. In addition, he has enough speed to create yards after the catch if given space. He is solid but not a great blocker, he has a taller frame and finds himself off-balance at times limiting his power output. This can be cleaned up at the NFL level, and we could see that start in Moblie. 

AJ Barner, Michigan 

6-foot-6, 245 pounds

AJ Barner is a fourth-year player who played three seasons at Indiana before transferring to Michigan last year. It was the right decision as he set a career-high in receiving yards with 249, though he only found the end zone once. Barner has not been highly involved in any offense thus far in his career, only amassing 64 receptions for 610 yards and 5 touchdowns. 

Barner's large frame is great in the passing game as he has shown comfortability to catch outside his frame or on his back hip. This also helps him in contested situations where he has displayed the ability to high-point the ball well. His above-average speed allows him to test a defense deep and marries this with a great ball-tracking ability. He does lack the quick acceleration that the elite producers possess which limits his separation on shorter routes. He also needs to develop a better feel for zone coverages. In the blocking game he leaves a lot to be desired and will need to work on getting better leverage points due to his lengthy frame. 

Brevyn Spann-Ford, Minnesota 

6-foot-7, 263 pounds 

Brevyn Spann-Ford is a goliath human who has been terrorizing the Big Ten for five seasons now. Despite this matchup advantage, Spann-Ford only has 1,061 receiving yards on his career and a disappointing 7 scores on 95 receptions. This has been a result of being buried within an abysmal Gopher offense the whole time. His best season was in 2022 when he finished with 42 receptions for 497 yards. 

Spann-Ford is a natural catcher who displays soft hands and can be relied on as a safety valve for a quarterback. The only issue is that he lacks the speed or agility to create any separation in his routes or a ton after the catch. Luckily he is very good in contested situations by boxing out defenders and using his strength and size to make plays. This lack of speed or explosiveness makes him a non-factor down the field which limits his yardage upside. On the plus side, he is very physical in the blocking game and press coverage situations. I do think Spann-Ford can find an NFL role, but I doubt he’ll have much fantasy value.