Atlanta Firebirds

Tyler Higbee – 6aa

Nick O’Leary – 7a

Summary: Nick O’Leary has had a solid camp two years in a row, enough to stave off rookie Tyler Higbee, who the team has high hopes for. It will be interesting to see if the Firebirds eventually move wide receiver Darren Waller in to tight end.

Birmingham Predators

RaShaun Allen – 6aa

Bryce Williams – 6aa

Summary: RaShaun Allen and Bryce Williams are a couple of young, interesting prospects, but neither are ready to start right now. This adds more concern to who Dak Prescott will throw the ball to, but both guys have potential to develop into something.

Carolina Generals

Seth DeValve – 7a

Zach Miller – 9

David Paulson – 6a

LaQuan McGowan – 6a

Summary: Zach Miller, fresh off an All-SFL season, was Carolina’s best weapon all of last year and should still be one of the best tight ends in the league. But eventually we expect Seth DeValve to move into the starting role. It might be a while, but he is expected to make some catches immediately. LaQuan McGowan is the well-known 400-pound Baylor tight ends, who is still trying to find his place on this team. He’s got surprising athleticism and could also be used as an offensive tackle or goal-line running back. He is interesting enough of a prospect to likely kick David Paulson off the roster.

Charleston Dragons

Malcolm Johnson – 6aa

Zach Sudfeld – 6aa

Jason Vander Laan – 6aa

Summary: Charleston has three interesting guys, but none of them appear ready. Zach Sudfeld probably should be ready by now though and if he doesn’t step up this year his time may pass. Malcolm Johnson is a good blocked, though might be better as a lead fullback. Converted quarterback Jason Vander Laan is a very, very interesting athlete and worth an extended look. He could also be used as a goalline runner.

Columbus Explorers

Daniel Brown – 7a

Josh Hill – 8

Kellen Winslow – 7d

Summary: Josh Hill had a decent campaign and is a serviceable starter. He’s also a good blocker and shouldn’t be pushed for his starting spot. Daniel Brown is an interesting rookie and might take over for former All-SFL tight end Kellen Winslow for the No. 2 spot. Winslow came out of retirement midseason last year and actually had a pretty decent year to show he still has something left in the tank, but should start winding down.

Dallas Six-Shooters

Owen Daniels – 8D

Darion Griswold – 6a

Austin Traylor – 6aa

Cole Wick – 6aa

Summary: Tight end has been a major part of the Dallas Six-Shooter’s offense the past few years but there have been some big changes. Tim Tebow is no longer the quarterback and Niles Paul priced himself out of Dallas. Owen Daniels comes in to provide some veteran stability, but he’s clearly at the end of his career, but still might have a bit left in the tank. He better too. Cole Wick and Austin Traylor are both are young with room to grow, but there doesn’t particularly look like there is a lot of room for growth. Both look like career backups. Darion Griswold seems like a clear step behind them.

Houston Wranglers

Joshua Perkins – 6aa

Joe Ruiz – 6a

Jake Stoneburner – 6aa

Summary: Houston has three interesting young players who should all be fighting for the spot to be the starter, but none of them are ready for the spotlight. Joshua Perkins might be ahead of them all right now, though.

Los Angeles Stars

Ben Braunecker – 6aa

Cooper Helfet – 7a

Tim Wright – 8i

Summary: Cooper Helfet had a really nice season taking over for an injured TIm Wright, but is far from a star player. Wright still has some very good skills but was banged up for most of camp and it is tough to see him regaining his former glory at this point. Harvard tight end Ben Braunecker is a very impressive player who will need some time to develop but could become a start if Los Angeles is patient enough.

Louisville Cougars

Rico Gathers – 6aa

Jeff Heuerman – 7a

Cameron Morrah – 7d

Summary: Louisville did a good job of bringing in Jeff Heuerman to provide a solid tight end option. Cameron Morrah caught 41 passes last year, but was a terrible blocker and not much of a deep threat, averaging less than eight yards per catch. Morrah looks like his once promising ship has sailed. Rico Gathers is an interesting athlete who might be the next basketball player to successfully transition to tight end.

Michigan Stags

Blake Bell – 7aa

Casey Pierce – 6aa

Summary: Blake Bell had a really nice rookie season, hauling in eight touchdowns. He transitioned smoothly from quarterback in college to tight end in the pros. The question is now will he get better, or at least sustain with defenses having a year to figure him out? Casey Pierce is the only backup on Michigan’s roster. He’s a solid reserve.

Minnesota Freeze

Thomas Duarte – 6aa

Joseph Fauria – 7c

Marquis Gray – 7af

Jake McGee – 6a

Summary: Thomas Duarte is a very promising rookie, but he had a disappointing training camp. He might take longer than expected to develop. Marquis Gray should be the lead guy to take over for James Hanna, who left for the NFL. He’s not particularly great, though, just serviceable. Joseph Fauria has been a disappointment since showing promise as a rookie in Orlando. He was a total but in his one year in New York before being cut.

Nashville Renegades

Arthur Lynch – 6

Niles Paul – 10$

Scott Chandler – 7c

Devin Saunders – 6c

Summary: Niles Paul nearly left the SFL after having nearly 1,000 yards and 16 touchdowns last year and becoming an All-SFL player. He’s a big upgrade for Nashville and will fit perfectly into their receiving corps., but he’s not all they have either. Scott Chandler is a very good receiving tight end. He’s not a good blocker, but he can still catch the ball and looks to finish out his pro football career in the SFL. Arthur Lynch had his chance in Phoenix last year and did nothing with it. He’s probably just a camp body in Nashville. Devin Saunders probably won’t make the team. He doesn’t seem meant for pro ball.

New Orleans Nightmare

Ryan Otten – 6

Summary: Ryan Otten is one of the most overpaid players in the league and he’s not really that good. Ryan Otten probably wouldn’t make most teams but he’s all the Nightmare have. At least they barely used the tight end in their offense, so maybe it won’t matter as much.

New York Marauders

Jerell Adams – 7aa

Will Tye – 7aaf

Matt Weiser – 6af

Summary: Wll Tye didn’t quite make the step forward he was hopes to last year, but he’s a really talented player who should receive a lot more looks and opportunities this year. He has tremendous potential and could become one of the best players with his combination of size and good hands. Jerell Adams is a wonderful rookie who could start for other teams and had a tremendous training camp. With him and Tye, the Marauders could feature a nice amount of two tight end sets. Matt Weiser is a local body invited to training camp.

Omaha Express

Henry Krieger-Coble – 6aa

Brandon Pettigrew – 8c

Beau Sandland – 6a

Summary: Former NFL first rounder Brandon Pettigrew comes to the SFL after an up-and-down tenure in the NFL with the Detroit Lions. He could be a power player right away, but then again, his reward comes with the risk. Ownership likes rookies Beau Sandland and Henry Kriegler-Coble, but both are project players.

Orlando Rockets

Nick Boyle – 7aa

MyCole Pruitt – 7aa

Luke Willson – 8

Summary: Orlando doesn’t have any game-breakers or elite athletes, but they have a group of serviceable guys who should still be productive with Ricky Ray slinging the rock. All three guys were productive in 2016 and have have their own different strengths. Luke Willson should still be the top guy, but Nick Boyle has a nice amount of potential.

Philadelphia Bulldogs

EJ Bibbs – 6aa

Ryan O’Malley – 6aaf

Mychal Rivera – 9c

Summary: Mychal Rivera was an All-Pro in Nashville two years ago but only had average numbers in Philly last season. This year is a contract year and will tell a lot about his future. Ryan O’Malley is a really good local prospect who could be a good No. 2 player. EJ Bibbs is an athletic prospect, but has to show something.

Phoenix Scorpions

Devon Cajuste – 6aa

Jesse James – 8aa

Bear Pascoe – 7c

John Quazza – 6a

Summary: Phoenix’ tight ends did nothing for them last year, which is why they went out and got a guy like Jesse James. He’s still young but has all of the tools to be a an elite pass catcher. Devon Cajuste might develop into the No. 2 tight end behind him, but for now Bear Pascoe seems to be the veteran blocker who should see some time. John Quazza is a small school guy who will really need to show something soon to make the roster.

Pittsburgh Forge

Rob Housler – 8c

Tony Moeaki – 8c

Summary: Rob Housler and Tony Moeaki are two players who once looked to have really promising NFL career but both washed out in a hurry. They are good fins for Pittsburgh, though, and might be good bandaids.

San Antonio Marshalls

Matt Furstenburg – 6

James O’Shaughnessy – 6aa

Dion Sims – 8a$

Summary: Dion Sims had the best tight end season in San Antonio in probably about a decade and he still only had middling numbers, but he can be a productive and reliable weapon. James O’Shaughnessy seems to have pretty good potential and after a rookie season that was almost like a redshirt year, he could have an increased role. Matt Furstenburg is facing his final opportunity to prove himself as a pro in the final year of his contract.

Seattle Orcas

Stephen Anderson – 6aa

Chris Gragg – 7a

Khari Lee – 6aa

Summary: Chris Gragg has a solid season catching the ball based on his limited usage in a run-heavy offense. He’s a very limited blocker, though, which might hurt his chances getting snaps moving forward. It might open the door up for Stephen Anderson to take over in the near future too. He is a much better blocker with plenty of room to grow. Khari Lee is a very interesting athlete from a very small school who has potential to surprise some people.

Washington Wave

Chris Cooley – 7d

Charlie Hopkins – 6a

Gator Hoskins – 6

David Morgan II – 6aa

Jordan Najvar – 6

Summary: Chris Cooley made a decent comeback to Washington and gave Washington a little bit of something to cheer about. After Jeremy Kelley was forced to retire because of medical conditions the team is left with a bunch of prospects. David Morgan has a chance to develop, but might have a limited ceiling. This is probably the last chance for Gator Hoskins, who was given his chances in New York. Charlie Hopkins is probably in the same boat. Jordan Najvar has expressed interest in coaching should things not work out this year and sadly it doesn’t seem like he’s fully focused on playing.

SFL Top 5 TEs

1. Niles Paul, Nashville Renegades
– Niles Paul was a great weapon for Dallas. He priced himself out of there and appeared to be set to go to the NFL, but Nashville ponied up for him and he’s staying in the league. It will be a new situation for him, but he should fit in well with the Renegades group of pass catchers.

2. Zach Miller, Carolina Generals
– Zach Miller was one of the bright spots on the Generals lackluster offense last season, finishing with 82 receptions and 911 yards. With an overall improved offense he could even be better.

3. Mychal Rivera, Philadelphia Bulldogs
– Mychal Rivera didn’t live up to expectations last season in Philadelphia after a great 2015 season in Nashville, but don’t let that fool you; he is one of the best tight ends in this year. In a contract year he might he set for a big bounce-back season.

4. Dion Sims, San Antonio Marshalls
– Dion Sims’ numbers probably could have been better, but he was very productive in the air-it-out offense San Antonio had. He’s been their best tight end in a long time and should continue to be a reliable target for them moving forward.

5. Josh Hill, Columbus Explorers
– His blocking makes him stand out in ways that some other tight ends don’t in this league. He’s really helped the Explorers top running game and he’s got very reliable hands as well. Just a solid all-around tight end.

HONORABLE MENTION: Jesse James, Phoenix Scorpions
– It’s impossible to put him in the top five right now because he did not do too much as a rookie and is now in a new system where we don’t know how he’ll perform, but Jesse James looks like he can become the next top tight end in this league.

Commissioner’s prospect watch (Top 7 Rookies and Sophomores)

1. Jesse James, Phoenix Scorpions
– While Jesse James had a quiet rookie season he made incredible strides in camp and looks like he could be living up to his potential and on his way to becoming one of the top tight ends in the league. He should be a major focus in the Scorpions passing offense.

2. Blake Bell, Michigan Stags
– Nobody could have seen the type of season coming that Blake Bell had as a rookie, but he quickly proved himself as a big redzone threat and very quality receiving option. With few proven weapons left Bell could be an even bigger target, but with a bigger role we have to see if he can sustain his success as a sophomore.

3. Will Tye, New York Marauders
– Maybe it’s harsh criticism for a sixth round rookie, but Will Tye probably should have been better for New York last year considering how many opportunities he ended up getting with Joseph Fauria stinking things up. But it’s impossible to ignore how much talent Tye has. He has the potential to become one of the best in the league, especially when he has two great receivers taking pressure off of him running up and down on the outside. Tye should see a bigger role this year and has all the skills needed to take advantage.

4. Jeff Heuerman, Nashville Renegades
– We don’t have much to go off of with Jeff Heuerman to many too many opinions but he’s clearly a physical specimen with a lot of potential to take major steps in his second year. Nashville likes him and will give him opportunities.

5. Jerell Adams, New York Marauders
– He wasn’t one of the first tight ends taken in the draft but Jerell Adams could prove to be a major steal. He and Will Tye are really pushing each other. Both could see time. Adams has good hands and has surprising downfield speed.

6. Thomas Duarte, MInnesota Freeze
– Simply by having Josh McCown throwing the ball to him and a solid opportunity to get the starting spot, Thomas Duarte could do something as a rookie. It was a bit surprising to see him be the first rookie taken in the draft, but he has talent and potential, though he struggled in camp a bit.

7. Tyler Higbee, Atlanta Firebirds
– Tyler Higbee was expected to be the first tight end taken in the draft. He wasn’t and was a dream come true for Atlanta, but he’s struggled in camp a bit and is stuck behind another tight end on the roster right now. Still, his talent and potential make him a threat.

By the Numbers:
10 Ratings: 1 (1.49%)
9 Ratings: 2 (2.99%)
8 Ratings: 9 (13.43%)
7 Ratings: 18 (26.87%)
6 Ratings: 37 (55.22%)