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Assessing Tyler Kroft's Draft Value

Not only did the Bengals love Tyler Kroft, but Marvin Lewis called him "the best of the TE prospects" in the 2015 draft class.

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals took Rutgers tight end Tyler Kroft with their first of two third-round picks in this year's draft.

Though it came as a bit of a surprise, Kroft did address a need at that position with Tyler Eifert recovering from shoulder surgery, and Jermaine Gresham almost certainly not returning to Cincinnati.

The 6-foot-5, 247-pound Kroft turned pro after a so-so junior season, which turned out to be a smart move after he became a top-100 pick. Was he worth it though?'s Lance Zierlein did not agree with the pick, giving Kroft a Round 5 grade and ranked him the 163rd-overall prospect. Mel Kiper also thought this was a bit of a reach. He ranked Kroft as his 122nd-overall player. Todd McShay was friendlier with his grade, ranking Kroft 76th overall.

Bleacher Report's Matt Miller ranked Kroft as his eighth-best tight end and 143rd overall.

CBS Sports' Rob Rang ranked Kroft as his 134th-overall prospect with a Round 6 grade. And, the guys at Mocking the Draft ranked Kroft 230th.

If you average those rankings, Kroft had a 144.67 ranking, making him worthy of a late fourth or early fifth-round pick. It's clear the draft analysts and experts didn't think as highly of Kroft as the Bengals did. Not only did they love Kroft, but Marvin Lewis called him "the best of the TE prospects" in this draft.

You also have to understand Kroft's situation to see why a team like the Bengals thought he was worthy of a top-85 pick when most had him ranked far outside that range. He was expected to be a bigger prospect heading into the 2014 season after leading his team in receiving yards (573) and receptions (43) to go with four scores in 2013.

However, Kroft was part of an offense that finished 99th in total passing attempts last year (357) and respectively, he was asked to be more of a blocker and less of a receiving threat. If you compare his sophomore numbers to that of Maxx Williams' in 2015, the first tight end taken in this year's draft, there isn't much of a difference.

Williams led Minnesota in receptions (36), yards (569) and receiving touchdowns (eight) this past season. Kroft had seven more catches for four more yards and four fewer scores.

It's probably safe to assume the Bengals put more value on Kroft's 2013 season than his 2014 campaign. That would explain the big disparity between his pre-draft rankings and where he was actually selected.

Whatever Kroft becomes as an NFL player, we'll likely have a good feel for it after his rookie campaign. He's currently the No. 2 tight end behind Eifert. Given Eifert's injury history, should give him some good opportunities.