NFL draft position preview: Tight ends – Chicago Tribune

As the NFL draft nears, we’re taking a 10-day, position-by-position look at what’s out there and what the Bears need. Here’s our assessment at tight end.

Bears status

The Bears guaranteed Trey Burton $18 million on a four-year, $32 million deal last month, rolling the dice on the versatile tight end’s long-term potential. Both general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy have already expressed excitement for the dimension Burton can add as a pass catcher. Now comes a quest to learn more about Nagy’s vision for Adam Shaheen and how last year’s second-round pick will be best used in the new offense. Shaheen’s Year 2 development is a big deal. To accelerate a return to relevance, the Bears need their high draft picks to emerge as significant contributors.

Level of draft need

Low: A year ago, the need here was undeniably high. But now with Burton, Shaheen, Dion Sims, Daniel Brown and Ben Braunecker in the mix, the Bears have as much depth and competition at tight end as they’ve had in years. There is no pressing urge to address the position in the draft, but with a best-player-available philosophy Pace will keep his eyes open.

Top prospect

Hayden Hurst, South Carolina

6-4, 250 pounds

Worth a look: Once a pitcher in the Pirates’ minor-league system, Hurst’s baseball career derailed when he developed the yips and literally lost his fastball. But he found new life in a new sport at South Carolina and seems likely to be a first-round pick. Hurst prides himself on being a sure-handed target and plays with intensity and enthusiasm. His combination of size and speed is impressive.

Stay away: Hurst will turn 25 in August, which makes him a graybeard among rookies. He’ll also need to develop his route-running skills at the NFL

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