In 2006, the San Francisco 49ers selected Vernon Davis with the sixth overall pick and the Jacksonville Jaguars took Marcedes Lewis with the 28th choice. That is the last time two tight ends were selected in the first round.
Alabama’s O.J. Howard and Miami’s David Njoku will break that streak this year with both expected to hear their names in the first 32 picks.
But the most intriguing player in the draft won’t hear his name until Day 2. Adam Shaheen played at Ashland, a Division II program in northeast Ohio.
But Shaheen, at 6-foot-7, 278 pounds, is the biggest tight end prospect in the draft. Only Darren Fells of the Detroit Lions, who stands 6-7 and weighs 281, is bigger among NFL tight ends.
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Shaheen has the production, having caught 127 passes for 1,670 yards and 26 touchdowns the past two seasons. He also tested well at the combine, running a 4.79 in the 40, benching 225 pounds 24 times and going 32 1/2 inches in the vertical jump.
But Shaheen also understands the questions about the competition he’s faced.
“It’s going to be completely different [in the NFL],” Shaheen said. “That’s the biggest knock on me playing Division II. Am I able to translate my game to the next level? I think I have the size, speed and athleticism. With the right coaching, it’s going to be a good opportunity for me.”
Scouts are intrigued.
“Although his skill set lacks sophistication, Shaheen’s issues are based more on inexperience rather than lack of talent,” CBS Sports draft analyst Dane Brugler said. “A second-round projection with NFL starting potential.”
This ranks as one of the top tight end classes in several years. For the first time since 2006, two tight ends should go in the first round. Only three tight ends were selected in the first three rounds last year, and as many kickers (1) were drafted in the first 80 selections.
Jason Witten, 35, signed a new deal in the off-season that virtually assures he will finish his career with the Dallas Cowboys. Although he played all 16 games for a 13th consecutive season, Witten isn’t getting any younger. Try as they might, the Cowboys have struck out trying to find a tight end to groom behind Witten. Martellus Bennett was a second-round pick in 2008, and Gavin Escobar was a second-round choice in 2013. The Cowboys drafted three other tight ends in the late rounds the past five years. Escobar departed in free agency after four disappointing seasons. James Hanna missed last season after requiring two knee surgeries, and a torn pectoral muscle kept Geoff Swaim out the final six games. Swaim also had foot surgery this off-season. The Cowboys are in the market for a tight end.
O.J. Howard, Alabama, 6-6, 251, 4.51, His only two 100-yard games came against Clemson in national championship games.
David Njoku, Miami, 6-4, 246, 4.64, In nine starts in two seasons, he made 64 receptions for 1,060 yards and nine touchdowns.
Adam Shaheen, Ashland, 6-7, 278, 4.79, He set a Division II record for most touchdown receptions by a tight end (16) last season.
Jake Butt, Michigan, 6-5, 246, NA, He tore the ACL in his right knee in the Orange Bowl.
Gerald Everett, South Alabama, 6-3, 239, 4.60, A two-year starter at South Alabama, he had 1,292 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Eric Saubert, Drake, 6-5, 253, 4.67, He started 37 games in four seasons, catching 190 passes for 2,253 yards and 21 touchdowns.
Top Texas ties
Hayden Plinke, UTEP, 6-4, 264, 4.97, Plinke, projected as a late-round pick, played at Boise State, Portland State and UTEP in six college seasons.
Source: Heights, weights and 40 times were compiled from CBS Sports draft analyst Dane Brugler.
82nd NFL Draft
Museum of Art, Philadelphia
Selections: Round 1, 7 p.m. April 27; Rounds 2-3, 6 p.m. April 28; and Rounds 4-7, 11 a.m. April 29
TV: ESPN/ESPN2 and NFL Network
1. Cleveland Browns
2. San Francisco 49ers
3. Chicago Bears
4. Jacksonville Jaguars
5. Tennessee Titans (from Los Angeles Rams)
6. New York Jets
7. Los Angeles Chargers
8. Carolina Panthers
9. Cincinnati Bengals
10. Buffalo Bills
11. New Orleans Saints
12. Cleveland Browns (from Philadelphia Eagles)
13. Arizona Cardinals
14. Philadelphia Eagles (from Minnesota Vikings)
15. Indianapolis Colts
16. Baltimore Ravens
17. Washington Redskins
18. Tennessee Titans
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
20. Denver Broncos
21. Detroit Lions
22. Miami Dolphins
23 New York Giants
24. Oakland Raiders
25. Houston Texans
26. Seattle Seahawks
27. Kansas City Chiefs
28. Dallas Cowboys
29. Green Bay Packers
30. Pittsburgh Steelers
31. Atlanta Falcons
32. New Orleans Saints (from New England Patriots)