Nov 30, 2013; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines tight end Devin Funchess (87) celebrates after catching a pass in the touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

2015 NFL Draft: Mel Kiper's top tight end prospects

Mel Kiper has unveiled his top draft prospects at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, defensive end, defensive tackle and cornerback already this week and today the NFL Draft expert from ESPN unveiled his top tight ends for next year’s draft.

The tight end position has become more important in recent years as more teams are relying on players at this position to be an integral part of the passing game which has become more wide-open over the course of the last five seasons and as a result we have seen players at this position taken much higher in the draft than in the past, including Eric Ebron who went 10th overall to the Detroit Lions in 2014.

Kiper’s top senior at the position is Nick O’Leary from Florida State who could have been a mid-round pick in all likelihood in 2014. He is a solid, if not spectacular player who can line up as an H-back in certain schemes.

Jeff Heuerman from Ohio State checks in at No. 2 on the list and could have a big season as the safety valve for Braxton Miller.

Ben Koyack looks like the next in the pipeline at Notre Dame which has sent a number of tight ends to the NFL in recent years. He finally gets his chance to shine in the offense and could be garnering plenty of attention come the draft with a breakout season.

Rounding out Kiper’s top five seniors is Gerald Christian from Louisville and Clive Walford from Miami.

The top junior on the list is Devin Funchess from Michigan who resembles Ebron in that he is a receiver first who can line up all across the field and capable of stretching the field and picking up yards after the catch. Isn’t much of a blocker, but his exceptional traits as a receiver could mean he’s the first tight end off the board in the 2015 draft.

Jay Rome from Georgia and Tyler Kroft from Rutgers are a pair of 6-6 tight ends that come in at No. 2 and 3, respectively from Kiper.

Kyle Carter from Penn State could be a favorite target for star quarterback Christian Hackenberg and could be a real riser as the season goes on.

Jerell Adams from South Carolina and Caleb Smith from Oregon State are another set of 6-6 prospects who have yet to really show much production at this point in their careers, but the talent is there to make noise this season and catch the eye of NFL scouts.

Is there a player like NFL All-Pro’s Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski in this group?

Who do you think will be the first tight end taken in next year’s draft? Who is the biggest snub and the player who should have cracked this list?

Sound off in the comments section below with your thoughts.

Tags: 2015 NFL Draft Mel Kiper Nick O'Leary

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