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NFL Draft: Scouting the wide receivers and tight ends

Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson works out during

Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson works out during day three of the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 2 in Indianapolis. Photo Credit: Getty Images/Joe Robbins

Scouting wide receivers/tight ends in 2019 NFL Draft:

T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa

Height: 6-5

Weight: 251

40 time: 4.7

Strengths: A reliable pass-catcher who had 49 receptions for 760 yards and six TDs last season … Excellent blocker at the point of attack … A complete player for the position, especially when it comes to combining pass-catching ability with blocking … Compares favorably to former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.

Weaknesses: Increased level of competition in the NFL may limit his effectiveness early in his pro career … Somewhat slender build may require more work in terms of strength and conditioning.

Projected draft status: First round

Quote: Hockenson on being compared to Rob Gronkowski: “Rob's a great player. At the beginning of this season, I watched a few people, and he's definitely one of them. And the way that he finishes the catch, he uses his body to get into position, is really special. And that's something I try to emulate in my game. I'm nowhere near him, obviously, but taking little tidbits from different players, that's something I think anyone tries to do, and that's something I've tried to do.”

D.K. Metcalf, WR, Mississippi

Height: 6-3

Weight: 228

40 time: 4.33

Strengths: Has exceptional upside with strong build and exceptional speed … Excelled at the Scouting Combine, where he was the standout wide receiver … Has naturalness to his route-running ability to go with flat-out speed.

Weaknesses: Had modest numbers last year (569 yards, five TD catches) in seven games … Missed final month of the season with a neck injury. Has since been cleared to resume football activities.

Projected draft status: Rounds 1-2.

Quote: Metcalf on suggestions he’s actually too big to play wide receiver: “They haven't seen ‘too big’ in seeing what I can do on the field or as a 40 or bench 27 reps. They can compare me to other big receivers that have been unsuccessful, but they haven't seen D.K. Metcalf.”

Noah Fant, TE, Iowa

Height: 6-4

Weight: 249

40 time: 4.5

Strengths: Excellent pass-catching tight end … Productive 2018 campaign with 39 catches for 519 yards and seven TDs … Teamed with T.J. Hockenson to form one of the great college tight end duos ever.

Weaknesses: More of a receiver-type tight end who will be limited in his blocking ability … Will have to fight through more aggressive coverage in the NFL … Prone to occasional drops.

Projected draft status: Rounds 1-2.

Quote: On the success of 49ers tight end George Kittle, a former Iowa tight end: “Talking to George Kittle all the time and he’s a great guy and I look up to him. He’s done a lot for me, keeping in touch with me, giving me advice. It inspires me and giving me an opportunity to get into the NFL and doing the same thing.”

A.J. Brown, WR, Mississippi

Height: 6-foot

Weight: 226

40 time: 4.49

Strengths: Strong, adequately fast and very physical receiver who could dominate from the slot … Had productive year in 2018 with 85 catches for 1,320 yards and six TDs to lead the Ole Miss passing attack … Precise route runner.

Weaknesses: Doesn’t have breakaway speed … Will need to adjust to being more closely defended in the NFL after getting more open space in college zone defenses.

Projected draft status: Rounds 1-3.

Quote: Brown on where he stands among his draft class peers at wide receiver: “Personally, I'm the best receiver in the draft by far. I'm versatile. I can play inside and outside. I run great routes. I have strong hands and I'm a man after the catch. A lot of guys aren't like that. I'm very different.”

Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma

Height: 5-9

Weight: 166

40 time: Did not run at Scouting Combine

Strengths: Electrifying player with excellent speed on the outside … Very productive last year with 1,318 yards and 10 TD catches from Kyler Murray … Will stretch the field for any offense … Compares favorably to Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson.

Weaknesses: Very small by NFL standards … Had a foot injury that diminished his effectiveness late in the season and impacted him during the offseason. Underwent Lisfranc surgery in January.

Projected draft status: Rounds 1-3.

Quote: Brown on what makes him excel on the outside: “My speed, my technique, my attention to detail. It allows me to play the game the way any other receiver would do it. I can play outside, take a comeback [route pass] and take it to the house. I can go outside, take an out, take it to the house.”

Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State

Height: 6-foot

Weight: 205

40 time: 4.31

Strengths: Probably the fastest receiver in this year’s draft … A converted running back, has great athleticism that he uses to his advantage … Had breakout year in 2018 with 90 catches for 1,063 yards and 12 TDs … Plays with great intensity.

Weaknesses: Relative inexperience at the position will require continued improvement at detail work … May be more suited to play slot receiver, which means he might not be able to take full advantage of his speed on the outside.

Projected draft status: Rounds 1-3.

Quote: Campbell on having room to grow after switching from running back: “I think my ceiling is high for the position. I made the transition when I got to college. It was a struggle for me early on, but I continued to work, and it got to the place I am now. But definitely I think my ceiling aside, I think I have a lot of potential to still reach for sure.”

Irv Smith, TE, Alabama

Height: 6-2

Weight: 242

40 time: 4.63

Strengths: Was very solid for the Crimson Tide in 2018 with 44 catches for 710 yards and seven TDs … Football runs in the family; he’s the son of former NFL tight end Irv Smith … Good hands … Competent blocker.

Weaknesses: Doesn’t have elite speed for downfield passing game … Not always fluid as a pass catcher.

Projected draft status: Rounds 2-3

Quote: NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein: “Smith is still green in terms of overall experience, which shows up in run-blocking and route-running, but he has plenty of talent and is likely to get much better in both areas.”

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