NFL Combine 2013: Top tight ends invited

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday will reveal a lot about how tight ends are selected in next month's draft.

The tight ends began workouts at the NFL Combine on Friday with the bench press, and they'll go through field drills and positional workouts Saturday.

The big two names to watch are former Stanford Cardinal tight end Zach Ertz and former Notre Dame Fighting Irish tight end Tyler Eifert. Ertz, who left Stanford a 6-5, 249-pound redshirt junior, is ranked first on rankings of tight ends in the draft and projected to be drafted in the first or second round. He finished his final year at Stanford with 69 receptions, 898 yards and six touchdowns.

Eifert, who won the John Mackey Award in 2012 for the nation's most outstanding tight end, is also projected to be a first- or second-round selection. He caught 50 passes in 2012 for 685 yards and four touchdowns. His blocking has come in to question, and's Dane Brugler reported on Eifert's efforts to improve in that area.

"Blocking has been what everyone said I was lacking," Eifert said. "So I've spent a lot of time working on my blocking with coaches, working on the technique things. The little things like footwork and hand placement. It's the little things that make a big difference."

The tight-end class features several intriguing names not seen much on the field in 2012 to watch at the Combine. Arkansas Razorbacks tight end Chris Gragg struggled in 2012 with leg injuries, but he caught 14 passes for 193 yards and two scores in his first two games before the injuries took over much of his season. He finished the season with 22 total catches for 289 yards and three touchdowns.

Cincinnati Bearcats tight end Travis Kelce—a one-time Wildcat quarterback at 6-5 and 250 pounds—withdrew from participation with an abdominal tear suffered before the Senior Bowl.

Vance McDonald, the former Rice Owls tight end, led tight ends with 31 reps in the bench press Friday. Ertz was second with 24 reps, and Eifert had 22.

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