Spring position rankings:

Tight ends are somewhat of a lost art in college football today. They often come as hybrid receivers, fullbacks or H-backs, and it’s rare teams have a true tight end. Teams often bring in extra offensive linemen if they need a blocker, and teams often flex out bigger receivers as tight ends with today’s style of play.

Nonetheless, let’s look at the SEC’s top 10 tight ends ahead of spring practice:

10. Steven Scheu, Vanderbilt (JR)
9. Brian Vogler, Alabama (SR)
8. Jay Rome, Georgia (JR)

Steven Scheu had a solid sophomore season for the Commodores, making nine catches for 123 yards and one touchdown…Brian Vogler will be a key piece to Alabama’s puzzle in 2014, mostly due to his blocking, which has to improve. He caught eight passes for 71 yards and one touchdown last season…Jay Rome has all the ability to be an elite player at tight end, but it’s not all come together yet. He made just nine catches for 99 yards and no touchdowns in 2013, after having 11 catches for 152 yards and two touchdowns in 2012. This will be a big year for Rome.

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7. CJ Uzomah, Auburn (SR)
6. Jerrell Adams, South Carolina (JR)
5. Rory Anderson, South Carolina (SR)

I thought CJ Uzomah would become a bigger force than he was in 2013. Uzomah caught some very key passes at crucial times – like the game winner against Mississippi State, but he recorded just 11 passes for 154 yards and three touchdowns, mostly due to the dynamic running game…Jerrell Adams and Rory Anderson are two hybrid receiver/tight ends for the Gamecocks who must play a bigger and more crucial role in 2014. Adams caught 13 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns, while Anderson caught 17 for 235 yards.

4. Evan Engram, Ole Miss (SO)
3. Hunter Henry, Arkansas (SO)
2. Malcolm Johnson, Mississippi State (SR)

Evan Engram should be a force for the Rebels this coming season. He flashed tremendous ability as a freshman, making 21 catches for 268 yards and three touchdowns, and he missed five games…I love Hunter Henry’s game. He’s a more of a traditional and conventional tight end who is the total package. He had a very strong freshman season for the Hogs, catching 28 passes for 409 yards and four touchdowns. Henry needs to play a much bigger role and become a big-time weapon for Bret Bielema’s offense in 2014…Malcolm Johnson caught the second most passes of any Bulldog in 2013, and he recorded 30 catches for 391 yards and two touchdowns. He’ll be an important contributor for Dan Mullen’s veteran-laded attack in 2014.

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1. OJ Howard, Alabama (SO)

OJ Howard is one of the hybrid mismatches that will keep defensive coordinators up at night. Usually, we see 6-6, 240-pound defensive ends in the SEC, but Howard can stretch the field in a hurry. He caught 14 passes for 269 yards and two touchdowns as a true freshman, and he’ll be a major impact player for two more seasons in Tuscaloosa.