The Observer’s top 5 tight ends available in the 2016 NFL draft:
1. Hunter Henry
Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 250.
Projected round: 1-2.
Comment: A great pass-catching tight end that the Panthers would love to get in the second round, but he won’t be there that late.
2. Austin Hooper
Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 254.
Projected round: 2-3.
Comment: Another pass-catching tight end in a draft that’s weak at that position. But he’s smart enough to figure out NFL blocking concepts.
3. Jerell Adams
College: South Carolina.
Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 244.
Projected round: 3.
Comment: His 4.64-second 40-yard dash could get him taken in the second round as teams look to add a big body that can move down the field.
4. Nick Vannett
College: Ohio State.
Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 256.
Projected round: 3-4.
Comment: One of the better blocking tight ends in the draft. Vannett didn’t get many catches (15) last season.
5. Thomas Duarte
Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 231.
Projected round: 5-6.
Comment: Duarte had an eye-popping 872 receiving yards at tight end with 10 touchdowns last season.
Greg Olsen is 31 and Ed Dickson is entering the final year of his contract. The only other tight end the Panthers have is Scott Simonson, and he didn’t see any meaningful playing time last season. Carolina would like to add a tight end high in this draft, but it’s very doubtful they’ll spend a first-rounder to get one.
Temarrick Hemingway is a fascinating player out of S.C. State. He’s unpolished and still struggles with his hands, but had 418 yards on 38 receptions last season.
Duke’s Braxton Deaver could make a team very happy if he can stay healthy. Deaver had four surgeries in his collegiate career, including two ACL tears. But his talent is still there so long as he can convince a team his body will hold up.
ECU’s Bryce Williams could definitely be a late-round selection. He didn’t have a good combine, but his 58 catches for 588 yards last season still hold up. ... The Panthers had former Myers Park and Richmond tight end Hunter Westfall in for a private workout last month. He’d make for a good homecoming story if they give him a chance at rookie minicamp.