Over that time span, there have been 134 Tight Ends drafted. Similarly to my QB breakout article, I will break down by draft round.
Over the 8-year timeframe, only 6 TEs were drafted in the 1st round. With that being said, there’s obviously a small sample size. But 4 of those 6 TEs ended up becoming TE1s at least once during their careers so far (66%). Of those 4 TEs that achieved TE1 status, it took them an average of 2.5 years to reach the milestone.
The 2nd round was surprisingly positive for the TE position and arguably more fruitful than round 1. There were 16 TEs drafted in round 2, with 8 of them becoming TE1s (50%). The average time for them to reach TE1 status was 2.75 years.
As you would expect, we see a little more TE1 scarcity in the 3rd round. Out of the 21 TEs drafted, 7 became TE1s (33%). The average duration to become a TE1 among those 7 TEs was exactly 3 years.
4th Round and Later:
Round 4 and later, things begin getting really thin, as is common with most positions. There were 91 TEs drafted in the final 4 rounds. Only 7 out of those 91 TEs reached TE1 status (8%). Furthermore, the average time to become a TE1 for those that were able, was 3.6 years.
The data is pretty in line with what is talked about in the community. There’s a clear cutoff between the first 3 rounds and the back half of the draft. The average time for a TE to breakout who is drafted in the first 3 rounds is 2.8 years! It’s very rare for a TE to have a TE1 season if they haven’t in the first 4 years. Only 3 out of the 134 Tight Ends broke out after that (2%).