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2024 Senior Bowl Preview: Tight Ends

It’s officially Reese’s Senior Bowl week, which, as its website describes, “is the ultimate bridge between college and pro football” featuring “a mixture of college standouts and potential prospects that project best to the NFL with a particular interest in those that are rated above the 5th round.” The college all-star game will hold practices from Tuesday to Thursday in Mobile, Alabama, with the actual game taking place on Saturday. This is the first time in the event’s history that underclassmen will participate.

The Patriots have had a strong connection to the Senior Bowl, with Keion White, Marte Mapu, Jake Andrews, Chad Ryland, and Bryce Baringer all being alumni who were eventually selected by New England last spring. Top draft picks Kyle Dugger, Mac Jones, and Cole Strange were also participants leading up to their respective drafts. Last season, now-defensive coordinator DeMarcus Covington served as defensive coordinator for the American team. This season, wide receivers coach Troy Brown will be the American team’s offensive coordinator, affording the Patriots another up-close look at prospects.

The Patriots are rebuilding after a 4-13 season, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. New head coach Jerod Mayo’s vision for the team is still unknown, and he has yet to hire an offensive coordinator or solidify his staff. But with Director of Player Personnel Matt Groh and Director of Scouting Eliot Wolf assisting in personnel matters, it’s likely the Senior Bowl will remain a strong pipeline for New England.

Leading up to the game, I’ll be previewing each player scheduled to participate this week at the Patriots’ top positions of need. With Hunter Henry, Pharaoh Brown, and Mike Gesicki all hitting free agency, today’s installment will focus on tight ends.

In case you missed my previous installments:

NOTABLE ALUMNI:

  • Dalton Kincaid, Bills
  • Trey McBride, Cardinals
  • Isaiah Likely, Ravens
  • Mike Gesicki, Dolphins

PROSPECTS 

Jaheim Bell, Florida State – Height: 6’2″, Weight: 244

Background

  • Born: June 14, 2001 (22)
  • Class: Senior
  • 4-star recruit in South Carolina’s 2020 class, per 247Sports
  • Transferred from South Carolina to Florida State in 2023

Accolades

  • Second-Team All-ACC (2023)

Scout’s Take

“Bell is an interesting idea for coaches who want an athletic H-back with receiving skills. However, it’s hard to imagine Bell sticking as a starting tight end given his size and strength limitations.” – Derrik Klassen, Bleacher Report 

Ben Sinnott, Kansas State – Height: 6’4″, Weight: 254 lbs

Background

  • Born: June 14, 2002 (21)
  • Class: Redshirt Junior
  • Unranked recruit in Kansas State’s 2020 class

Accolades

  •  2x First-Team All-Big 12 at FB (2023, 2022)

Scouts’ Takes

“Overall, Sinnott’s value is in his versatility as a player and his effectiveness as a run blocker. Sinnott working on his ability to run routes and creating separation from defenders would add another element to his game to make him a tight end who can be utilized in all situations.” – Keith Sanchez, The Draft Network

Jared Wiley, TCU – Height: 6’6″, Weight: 260 lbs

Background

  • Born: November 2, 2000 (23)
  • Class: Senior
  • 3-star recruit in Texas’ 2019 class, per 247Sports
  • Transferred from Texas to TCU in 2023

Accolades

  • First-Team All-Big 12 (2023)
  • All-Big 12 Honorable-Mention (2022)
  • Team Captain (2023)

Scout’s Take

“Jared Wiley is a tight end who can be effective in a vertical passing game where he can use his speed and big frame to be a reliable target for quarterbacks.” – Keith Sanchez, The Draft Network

Brevyn Spann-Ford, Minnesota – Height: 6’7″, Weight: 263 lbs

Background

  • Born: December 27, 1999 (24)
  • Class: Graduate
  • 3-star recruit in Minnesota’s 2018 class, per 247Sports

Accolades

  • All-Big Ten Honorable Mention (2023, 2022)

Scout’s Take

“Brevyn Spann-Ford is a primary Y tight end with the size and alignment versatility to add depth to an offense.” – The Draft Network

Theo Johnson, Penn State – Height: 6’6″, Weight: 258 lbs

Background

  • Born: February 26, 2001 (22)
  • Class: Junior
  • 4-star recruit in Penn State’s 2020 class, per 247Sports

Accolades

  • All-Big Ten Honorable Mention (2023)
  • Mackey Award Watch List (2022)
  • Team Captain (2023)

Scout’s Take

“Theo Johnson is an athletic move piece who touts a technically sound skill set as a run blocker to expand an NFL playbook.” – The Draft Network

A.J. Barner, Michigan – Height: 6’6″, Weight: 250 lbs

Background

  • Born: May 2, 2002 (21)
  • Class: Senior
  • 3-star recruit in Indiana’s 2020 class, per 247Sports
    • Rose to 4-star recruit as a transfer
  • Transferred from Indiana to Michigan in 2023

Accolades

  • CFP National Champion (2023)
  • All-Big Ten Honorable Mention (2023)
  • Mackey Award Semifinalist (2023)
  • Team Captain (2022)

Scout’s Take

“Overall, Barner is a bit of a ball of clay as a flex weapon, but the athleticism and comfortability in space are apparent. His technique as a run blocker will pave the way for snaps, but a team with a focus on making Barner a part of their aerial attack could prioritize him in the middle rounds come springtime.” – The Draft Network

Tanner McLachlan, Arizona – Height: 6’4 1/2″, Weight: 240 lbs

Background

  • Class: Redshirt Senior
  • Unranked recruit in Arizona’s 2020 class, per 247Sports

Accolades

  • AP Second-Team All-Pac-12 (2023)
  • All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention (2023)

Scout’s Take

“Tough, intelligent player who plays well as a run blocker and is a reliable receiver in the passing game. Lack of quality [athletic ability] and play speed limit his playmaking ability.” – Mike Bey, NFL Draft Diamonds

Taylor Kyles

Taylor Kyles is the lead NFL Analyst for CLNS Media covering players, schemes, and tendencies through a New England Patriots-centric lens.

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