Top 10 TE in the 2023 NFL Draft: Cameron Latu, Jaheim Bell lead the chase behind Michael Mayer

We could see the TE position return to the first round in the 2023 NFL Draft with Notre Dame's Michael Mayer heading up an exciting class.

If you’re a team in need of a star tight end, the 2023 NFL Draft class holds hope and excitement as we build towards the college football season. Not only does this class hold a genuine first-round prospect, but there’s a stampede of sensationally skilled stars ready to prove their Sunday worth in the upcoming season. As we inch closer to football, who are the early top 10 TEs in the 2023 NFL Draft class?

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Top 10 TE in the 2023 NFL Draft

The TE position is the ultimate in utility and versatility. From powerful blockers to pass-catching contortionists and everything in between, the position provides a diverse evaluation process. Unsurprisingly, the top 10 TEs in the 2023 NFL Draft reflect this versatility and diversity, with players from across the nation bridging both Group of Five and Power Five conferences. We’re in for an exciting summer watching these early rankings fluctuate as the 2023 NFL Draft TE prospects develop and separate themselves.

10) Brant Kuithe, Utah

Is Utah secretly “TEU?” Probably not, but Brant Kuithe is the first of two Utes to feature on our list of the top TEs in the 2023 NFL Draft. Kuithe snagged six touchdowns and led the Pac-12-winning Utes with 611 receiving yards last fall. He was expected to declare for the draft last cycle but opted to return to potentially elevate his stock this year.

Kuithe is an impressively athletic pass catcher who showcases excellent route running to be a threat in the receiving game. He has the agility to cut in the open field, adding a valuable after-the-catch threat that also makes use of his physical approach to the game. While he’s an extremely willing blocker with pass-catching upside, Kuithe’s relatively diminutive size (6’2″, 230 pounds) might prove a barrier that NFL teams struggle to overcome.

9) Will Mallory, Miami (FL)

With Charleston Rambo and Mike Harley departed to the NFL, Will Mallory is one of the top returning targets for a Miami team that boasts one of the top quarterbacks in the ACC in Tyler Van Dyke. Targeted 30 times last fall, the 6’4″ and 245-pound TE averaged 11.4 yards per catch, tallied 347 yards, and found the end zone four times — tying his career high from the previous season.

On top of his 6’4″ height, Mallory boasts impressive length, putting it to great use at the catch point. The Miami TE is combative at the catch point and uses his competitive toughness to win with regularity. He showcases some crisp route running and has decent athleticism for a man of his size. Meanwhile, he has versatility in his armory, having played out of a number of alignments during his Hurricanes career. A productive season with improvement as a blocker could see him elevate his 2023 NFL Draft stock.

8) Benjamin Yurosek, Stanford

While there is an assumption that Georgia’s Brock Bowers is the second most productive returning TE to college football this season behind the No. 1 player on our 2023 NFL Draft rankings, that assumption would be false. After averaging 59.8 yards per catch in 2021, Stanford TE Benjamin Yurosek is that player. In addition to his YPC, Yurosek led the Cardinal with 658 receiving yards while snagging three touchdowns.

Like Kuithe above him, Yurosek might be considered lightweight at the position at 232 pounds. However, he’s tall at 6’5″ and boasts strong hands and instincts at the catch point. Additionally, he boasts yards-after-the-catch ability with long-strider speed, which should see him attract NFL attention as a pass-catching tight end prospect. Yurosek also possesses surprising grit and technical ability as a blocker. This “grit” is also apparent in his competitive toughness.

7) Darnell Washington, Georgia

With 17 receptions, 320 yards, and one touchdown through two years, Darnell Washington doesn’t have the most scintillating résumé as a 2023 NFL Draft TE prospect. However, we’ve seen tight ends from Georgia receive draft selections without blowing up the stat sheet during their career. It’s important to state that Washington was hampered by injury last season while fighting the brilliant Bowers for targets.

Washington passes the eye test as it pertains to being an NFL tight end. He’s a monster of a man at 6’7″ and 265 pounds. As you’d expect from a man of his size, he does great work as a blocker, evidenced by some eye-opening reps against Alabama phenom Will Anderson Jr. Meanwhile, he’s a deceptive athlete for his size with long-striding speed. As a pass catcher, Washington has strong hands and the ability to win above the rim with physicality.

6) Zack Kuntz, Old Dominion

A program that has produced one offensive selection in their history may well play host to one of the top tight ends in the 2023 NFL Draft class. While he began his college career at Penn State, Zack Kuntz put himself into the national conscious with an impressive first season with Old Dominion. While finding the end zone a team-high-tying five times last fall, Kuntz also tallied 692 yards as one of the focal points of the offense.

The 6’8″, 245-pound pass catcher possesses the catch radius you’d expect from a man of his size. Furthermore, he showcases surprising athletic ability as a former track star at the high school level. He offers some impressive competitive toughness and technical nuance as a run blocker. Improving catch-point reliability and adding pass protection to his repertoire will be the keys to Kuntz realizing his full potential.

5) Sam LaPorta, Iowa

Following career highs for receptions (53), yards (670), yards per catch (12.6), and touchdowns (three) last season, Sam LaPorta earned some considerable consideration as an NFL draft prospect. Nevertheless, the Iowa TE opted to return for his senior season with the ability to elevate his 2023 NFL Draft stock. Can he follow in the footsteps of former Hawkeyes greats at the position, including Noah Fant, T.J. Hockenson, and George Kittle?

Listed at 6’4″ and 249 pounds, LaPorta has good NFL size at the TE position. The most exciting element of his scouting report is his ability at the catch point. He shows competitive toughness but also the ability to contort to the ball. While he isn’t an elite athlete, LaPorta has some upside here. If he can add ability to desire as a blocker, he’ll be a valuable asset that once again proves alluring to NFL teams.

4) Dalton Kincaid, Utah

While Kuithe led the team in receiving yards last fall, Dalton Kincaid’s eight touchdowns were a team-high for Utah last season. His 14.2 yards per catch were the most of any TE on the Utes roster in just his second season with the program. His route to the 2023 NFL Draft has been a little different from some of these other TE prospects. Yet, he’s poised to be one of the top tight ends in the class if he continues his development.

Kincaid is a former basketball standout, and that success on the hardcourt is evident in how he plays the game of football. The 6’4″, 242-pound TE prospect has the ability to go up and challenge the best defensive backs he’s faced at the catch point. Here, he boasts a pair of strong and reliable hands. Meanwhile, the Utah TE has showcased impressive athletic ability as a route runner. Another productive season will only enhance his reputation.

3) Jaheim Bell, South Carolina

If South Carolina lives up to the promise of their roster’s potential, we could be talking about Jaheim Bell as one of the top offensive weapons in the nation. Already at this point — with a five-touchdown, 16.6 yards-per-catch, and 497-receiving-yard sophomore season behind him — we’re considering him one of the top TEs in the 2023 NFL Draft class.

Bell is already one of the most versatile TE prospects in the nation, having seen alignment all over the South Carolina offensive formation, including adding special-teams experience as a kick returner. This versatility is a product of an exceptional athletic profile. The 6’3″, 230-pound TE boasts game-changing speed, explosion, and lateral agility. He owns tools of reception deception, such as altering the tempo of his route running and mixing up his releases. With blocking experience as well, Bell is a TE to watch this fall.

2) Cameron Latu, Alabama

Trivia time. Behind Jameson Williams, who tied for the most receiving touchdowns for Alabama last season? If you guessed John Metchie III, you’re half correct, but why would we highlight that in an article about the top tight ends in the 2023 NFL Draft class? With eight touchdowns, tight end Cameron Latu was something of an under-the-radar weapon for the Crimson Tide last fall. He’s very firmly on the radar ahead of the 2022 season.

Boasting impressive size at the position — 6’4″ and 250 pounds — Latu is an exciting ball of clay who should elevate his stock with ever-growing experience at the position, having converted from defensive end. To quote Pro Football Network Draft Analyst Ian Cummings, Latu is “super explosive with great curvilinear acceleration on his breaks. Twitchy, really good natural throttle control and hip sink.” Improved technique as a blocker this season could set him apart from the rest of the chasing pack.

1) Michael Mayer, Notre Dame

The 2023 NFL Draft TE class has a very clear leader early on in the cycle. Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer not only has the skills and potential to be the top TE in the class, but he can also return the position to the first round next April. As a sophomore last season, he tallied 840 receiving yards with seven touchdowns. And when studying his tape, it’s apparent that despite already being a fully grown man at the position, his best might still be yet to come.

At 6’4″ and 251 pounds, Mayer has the build of an NFL tight end. He puts this size, paired with good length, to use as an excellent pass-catching target. Despite his catch-point contortionism, the most impressive element of his ability as a receiving weapon is the ease in which he moves for his size. Meanwhile, he has the physicality and football intelligence to be a versatile weapon with blocking ability already secured in his toolbox.

Honorable mentions

At an early glance — and it’s worth reiterating that this ranking of the top TEs in the 2023 NFL Draft class is just that — it seems like we’re in for a competitive class at the position. Two notable omissions from our list that are popular in other outlets are Georgia TE Arik Gilbert and now-Texas TE Jahleel Billingsley. At this moment in time, their evaluations are tricky, with little on-field evidence to backup the early pre-season hype. We’ll adjust as the season progresses. Meanwhile, here are some other tight ends attracting our attention:

  • Tucker Kraft, South Dakota State
  • Josh Whyle, Cincinnati
  • Kemari Averett, Bethune-Cookman
  • Ben Sims, Baylor
  • Leonard Taylor, Cincinnati
  • Noah Gindorff, North Dakota State

Oliver Hodgkinson is an NFL Draft and College Football Analyst for Pro Football Network. Check out the rest of his work here, and you can find him on Twitter: @ojhodgkinson.

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