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Mid-Year Rookie Review: Re-Ranking The 2023 Tight End Class

Jeremy takes a look at how this year’s class of rookie tight ends is performing half way into their debut seasons.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - SEPTEMBER 24: Sam LaPorta #87 of the Detroit Lions scores a touchdown in the second quarter of a game against the Atlanta Falcons at Ford Field on September 24, 2023 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images)

I am starting a new Thursday series where I re-rank the 2023 NFL Draft class by position group through the first half of the season. This week, I am starting with the tight end position, and to be honest, there are only four rookie tight ends who are making an impact for their team through the first seven weeks of the season. With that in mind, I will just be focusing on the first five tight ends drafted, from Dalton Kincaid in the first round to Luke Schoonmaker at 58th overall.

2023 Draft Tight End Rankings

1. Sam LaPorta, Detroit Lions

I believe there is little debate that LaPorta should have been the first tight end off the board in the 2023 NFL Draft, knowing what we know now about him and his skill set. The Detroit Lions’ front office got a steal when they drafted him in the second round with pick 34 overall. He was the second tight end selected in the draft class, behind only Dalton Kincaid.  So far this season, LaPorta looks like a stud at the tight end position. He currently ranks as the TE4 in PPR scoring on the season. He has 35 receptions on 49 targets, 377 receiving yards and three touchdowns this season. I will be shocked if he does not finish the season as TE5 or better in PPR leagues this year.

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2. Dalton Kincaid, Buffalo Bills

It is Kincaid’s time to shine in Buffalo since Dawson Knox will be out a few weeks after having wrist/hand surgery this week. Kincaid was the first tight end drafted in the 2023 NFL Draft as the Buffalo Bills selected him in the first round at pick number 25. He has been on the field for a lot of snaps this year, but the Bills had not been targeting him a lot until last week, even though he was drafted as a receiving-first tight end. They were using more of a tight-end-by-committee approach with Kincaid, Knox, and Quintin Morris. Kincaid currently ranks as the TE19 in PPR scoring on the season. He has 25 receptions on 27 targets, 193 receiving yards, and zero touchdowns, but most of that production came last week when he had eight receptions on eight targets for 75 receiving yards. I still believe Kincaid will finish as the TE10 or better in PPR leagues this year, especially now that Knox is going to miss time with the injury.

3. Luke Musgrave, Green Bay Packers

Musgrave was drafted in one of the best situations in the entire NFL Draft as the Green Bay Packers were very thin at the tight end position, so that allowed him to step right in and earn the starting job in training camp. The Packers actually selected two tight ends in the first three rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft. They selected Musgrave in Round two with pick number 42, and they selected Tucker Kraft in round 3 with pick number 78, but it is clear that Musgrave is the better player right now, and he is making an impact on the field this season. He is very athletic and has quickly become a favorite target for quarterback Jordan Love this year. Musgrave currently ranks as the TE22 in PPR scoring on the season. He has 22 receptions on 28 targets for 189 receiving yards but has yet to find the end zone this season. Right now, the only question with Musgrave is whether he can stay healthy as he has missed one game with a concussion and has left two other games early with injuries, so his numbers and ranking could be even better if he can stay on the field. I believe that, if he can stay healthy, Musgrave will finish the season as TE12 or better this season.

4. Michael Mayer, Las Vegas Raiders

Mayer was selected by the Las Vegas Raiders in Round 2 with pick number 35 in the 2023 NFL Draft, which was before Musgrave and one pick after LaPorta, but it goes to show you that going to the right situation makes all the difference in the NFL. Mayer, like Kincaid, was stuck in a tight end committee to start the season. He had to split playing time with Austin Hooper and Jesper Horsted to start the season, but the Raiders’ coaching staff has seemed to figure out over the last three weeks that Mayer is a playmaker and they need to get him the ball more often. During those three weeks, Mayer has nine receptions on 13 targets for 127 receiving yards. Before those three weeks, he had just one reception on two targets for two receiving yards. So, thank goodness Head Coach Josh McDaniels is finally getting him involved in the offense. Mayer currently ranks as Tthe E35 in PPR scoring on the season. He has 10 receptions on 15 targets for 129 receiving yards and zero touchdowns. If the Raiders continue to keep him involved in the gameplan each week, I believe Mayer will finish as the TE15 or better this season. I also believe he has more talent than Musgrave and will eventually pass him next season to be the third-best tight end from this draft class.

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5. Luke Schoonmaker, Dallas Cowboys

Schoonmaker was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in Round 2 with pick number 58 in the 2023 NFL Draft. I really thought that the Cowboys did not need to select a tight end that high in the draft as they already had a player at the position that they liked in Jake Ferguson on their roster, but I guess they felt he was a value that they could not pass on in Round 2. Unfortunately, the Cowboys are not using Schoonmaker at all in the passing game to start this career. He is primarily the second tight end behind Ferguson, and he has been used more for blocking this season. I ranked him at number five based on his talent and second-round draft capital. He has made his biggest impact this season as a blocker as he has one reception on six targets for one receiving yard and one touchdown so far this season. I still believe in Schoonmaker’s talent, so eventually, when the Cowboys start targeting him more, he will be a viable fantasy tight end in PPR scoring, but that probably will not happen until next season.