Stanford Football: Top prospects for the 2019 NFL Draft

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images /
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Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images /

3. TE Kaden Smith

It’s become a tradition of sorts for Cardinal tight ends to turn into exciting NFL prospects. Kaden Smith figures to keep that tradition alive and well in 2019 after using Stanford’s 2018 season as a springboard for his career.

Although relatively quietly, Smith has proven himself to be one of the very best tight ends in the country over the past few months. Heck, NFL Draft Analyst’s Tony Pauline went as far as saying Smith could be on his way towards a Day 1 selection back in September. I don’t think he’s quite there yet, but there’s still more football to be played.

Right now, the only real concern with Smith is his raw blocking skills. By now, we all know the kid can make plays in the passing game. Check the highlights if you don’t want to take my word for it.

Either way, Smith is for real. Right now, he’s widely considered the No. 2 tight end in the 2019 draft class behind only Iowa’s Noah Fant, who could be the greatest prospect at the position in years. Smith’s steady improvement and production, coupled with some monster games, have helped him turn heads and convince NFL folks that he’s one worth keeping an eye on.

Honestly, it’ll all come down to how he performs in pre-draft evaluations. If he can quell concerns about his speed during the NFL Combine, we could see him flirt with the first round. For now, though, let’s try to temper expectations for a position that rarely warrants that high of a pick.

Projection: 2nd-3rd round

Note: Smith is questionable to play against Cal due to a foot injury.