The tight end position has started to evolve into one of the most important positions on the field. With how much they are being used in the passing game, teams will be able to have their pick in this year’s draft. For week three of my top-10 series it is the tight ends for the 2022 NFL Draft.
- Isaiah Likely- Coastal Carolina
For the tight ends in this class, it’s Isaiah Likely that comes in at number one. He is listed as a tight end but has the skill set of a wide receiver. In 2021 he had 59 receptions for 912 yards and 12 touchdowns. Likely is 6’4 and has a 245-pound frame which allows him to shed off tackles and be able to shine in contested-catch situations. He also has the explosiveness to become a vertical threat which has allowed Coastal Carolina to use him in the slot or on the outside. The other important feature of a tight end is blocking, and Likely has shown the willingness to be a blocker, while he can still use improvement in this area he at least is willing to do it. His versatility is what makes him the top tight end in this 2022 class.
2. Trey McBride- Colorado State
Trey McBride is very close to being a tight end one in this class as well. McBride has shown with his 6’4 260-pound frame that he is a contested-catch kind of player hauling in 17 over the 2021 season. He does so by having strong hands, a large catch radius, and does a great job of tracking the ball downfield. He brings his physicality to his blocking skills as he does a good job of not letting the defender overpower him. McBride has a complete route tree but where he falls short is his separation, he averages five yards after the catch. So while he is able to win on contested catches, the lack of separation is what has him coming in at second. Other than that McBride is an all-around tight end that can come in day one and start.
3. Jeremy Ruckert- Ohio State
Jeremy Ruckert’s placing at third is based off of projection to the NFL. He has shown the upside, but when you’re in an offense that featured Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and Jameson Williams at one point, it is hard to judge how productive Ruckert could’ve been. He saw an increase in receptions in 2021 with a career-high of 26. With the increased volume it showcased his ball skills and with his large catch radius he has made a variety of one-handed catches. At Ohio State he was mainly used as a blocker to start, this has allowed him to get the right technique down to seal the block. Ruckert could easily be in the conversation for the thought end one spot if he had a larger volume of passes, but the upside he has shown provides promise.
4. Jalen Wydermyer- Texas A&M
The most fluid route-running tight end in this class is Jalen Wydermyer. He understands how to work leverage and can create separation and make defenders miss in space. From being a starter in his freshman year at Texas A&M he has been able to show high levels of football IQ by understanding coverages and how to exploit them. Where he falls short of being a top-three tight end is his drops as over 2021 he had eight. As well as that, his technique as a blocker could use some work as he gets knocked back too often. Although he has shown the physicality as a receiver hauling in eight contested catches and forcing six missed tackles. If he can bring that physicality as a blocker he would be set, otherwise, he will be a threat in the passing game.
5. Jake Ferguson- Wisconsin
While he may not make the flashy plays compared to other tight ends in this class, Jake Ferguson has the traits to be in the top five of this position. Ferguson is a natural with the ball in his hands showing great body control to make catches and does a good job of lowering his shoulder to get through contact. Compared to 2019 when he had 372 pass snaps, it decreased overtime to 307 in 2021 because Ferguson was a pivotal player as a blocker. With his 244-pound frame he can absorb defenders and does a solid job of showing he has the strength to stay locked on. With this, his blocking is also what has him coming in at five as he is inconsistent. Ferguson takes bad angles at times and is not able to sustain blocks against stronger defenders.
6. Cole Turner- Nevada
If a team is looking for a tight end to use mainly in the passing attack Cole Turner is the way to go. Turner is coming from the Nevada offense that is an air raid system which has led to him being very versatile lining up outside and inline. His athleticism also stands out being able to burst off the line and gain a clean release and can gain separation. His use in a heavy pass attack has helped him, but it has also not as his blocking technique is what drops him to six. He doesn’t get his arms up as quick as you would like. When he has been asked to block he does a sufficient job of it but will most likely have to be used in an offensive role similar to how Nevada ran theirs.
7. James Mitchell- Virginia Tech
James Mitchell is one of the more well-rounded tight ends in this draft class. He has shown impressive body control and ball tracking skills to adjust to a variety of throws. Not to mention he is as versatile as they come with having experience playing in-line, slot, out of the backfield, punt returner, and occasionally at the quarterback position for trick plays. When he gets the ball in his hands he regularly averages 10 yards after with his physicality and shifty movements. As a blocker, he shows willingness and plays with a high motor allowing him to stop defenders and gain leverage. The reason he is at seven is because he sustained a season-ending knee injury in the second game of the 2021 season and how he will play after is an unknown factor.
8. Greg Dulcich- UCLA
Greg Dulcich is one of the more underrated tight ends in this class yet offers what teams would want in a tight end. He has the explosiveness to make a play downfield as his average depth of target was 12 yards. Dulcich was used as a downfield threat due to his quick feet off the line and being able to create mismatches when going against linebackers with his separation skills. He also has great hand-eye coordination and uses his frame to make sure defenders can’t get the ball in contested catch situations. He is a willing blocker but can get overpowered by stronger defenders. What has Dulcich at eight is because he was mainly used as a downfield threat, his full route tree is unknown.
9. Cade Otton- Washington
Unlike the tight ends listed before, Cade Otton’s shining skill is his blocking. He shows the willingness, technique, and has the size that has allowed him to showcase in this area. When it comes to receiving he has been utilized in short areas with his burst and ability to shift directions with smooth hip transitions. He is also able to demonstrate his large catch radius and only had two drops in 2021. Otton is a good athlete but his upside lacks explosiveness. He has been mainly used in underneath routes having an average depth of target of 6.4 yards. Otton also does not have the high-end separation skills to be able to consistently generate yards after the catch.
10. Charlie Kolar- Iowa State
What stands out about Charlie Kolar is his size of 6’6 and 255 pounds. He uses his size effectively to fight through contact after the catch and be an efficient blocker at the line of scrimmage. His large frame contributes to his large catch radius which allows him to easily catch the ball and his drop percentage of only 3% shows how reliable he can be. Outside of this though is why Kolar comes in at 10, he struggles with explosiveness on his routes to create separation. When coming off the line he shows inconsistencies and is stiff at times. His size also limits him as a blocker as he takes poor angles at times which defenders take advantage of to get him off balance. Kolar can be productive but will most likely be limited to red-zone usage in the NFL.
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