2022 NFL Draft TE Rankings & Grades

This weekend, I’m releasing my 2022 NFL Draft tight finish rankings and spherical grades. There are just a few professional days left, so a pair issues should shift earlier than the draft. However that is more likely to be my last rating of the category.

Bear in mind, my spherical grades are handed out in a vacuum. Every spherical grade is tied to the caliber of participant I imagine every prospect shall be within the NFL. It’s NOT a projection of the place I imagine they will and even ought to be chosen within the precise draft. As an alternative it’s a degree of valuation I’ve tied to every participant’s outlook for the NFL.

If you wish to see my previous NFL Draft tight finish rankings, right here they’re:

2020 NFL Draft DT Rankings
2021 NFL Draft Large Board

Listed below are the 2022 NFL Draft tight ends I nonetheless want to finish evaluations for:

Isaiah Probably, Coastal Carolina
Grant Calcaterra, Southern Methodist
Austin Allen, Nebraska
James Mitchell, Virginia Tech
Chigozeim Okonkwo, Maryland
Cole Turner, Nevada

8. Daniel Bellinger, San Diego State (6-5, 253, 4.63)

San Diego State TE Daniel Bellinger – Picture by: USA TODAY

Bellinger examined like an excellent athlete on the Mix, and he has a whole lot of the bodily traits groups need. However I simply didn’t see it on tape. Whether or not it was falling down on routes or falling off blocks, Bellinger felt completely non-instinctive. I by no means watched him and thought there was an superior athlete ready to be unleashed with higher utilization within the NFL.

As an alternative, Bellinger seems to be like a great backup tight finish to me. First rate in-line blocker, athletic sufficient to line up exterior and block in house and really sure-handed. After all, Bellinger was barely requested to do something troublesome as a receiver. There are hardly any downfield targets or big-time contested catches on his tape. And when he had the prospect, Bellinger did little or no after the catch. He’s only a man within the NFL, however his intensive particular groups expertise will make him a useful Day 3 pickup.

12 months 1 Outlook: No. 3 Tight Finish

12 months 3 Outlook: No. 2/3 Tight Finish

Grade: Late Fourth Spherical (Backup)

7. Jake Ferguson, Wisconsin (6-5, 250, 4.81)

Wisconsin TE Jake Ferguson NFL Draft

Wisconsin TE Jake Ferguson – Picture by: USA In the present day

Ferguson is a poor athlete who lacks splendid size and bulk for the place. So why is he even this excessive on the listing? As a result of his instincts for the place are on level. Ferguson works his tail off on each rep as a blocker. He’s in all probability piled up extra pancakes than every other tight finish within the class. Sure, he’s gotta enhance his stability and pad degree. Typically Ferguson will get so aggressive he can’t keep on the block. However, man, he manhandles folks at instances. He planted a number of defenders in opposition to Penn State, together with Andrew Ebiketie.

As a receiver, Ferguson is the essential Y tight finish package deal. Dependable fingers, good really feel for zone protection and glorious physicality after the catch. His whole ability set suits what most groups ask of their backup tight ends. Ferguson may need to scrub just a few issues up first, however he ought to earn a part-time function if he change into a extra constant blocker.

12 months 1 Outlook: No. 2/3 Tight Finish

12 months 3 Outlook: No. 2/3 Tight Finish

Grade: Late Fourth Spherical (Backup)

6. Cade Otton, Washington (6-5, 247, DNP)

I’m unsure I perceive why Otton has quietly risen up boards this draft season. He’s a stable all-around tight finish. There is no such thing as a purpose to imagine Otton received’t be a very good No. 2 tight finish who will help a staff within the NFL. However I’ll be very stunned if he’s higher than the highest 3-4 tight ends on my board. I don’t see that form of ceiling for him within the NFL.

Washington TE Cade Otton

Washington TE Cade Otton – Picture by: USA TODAY

Bodily and athletically, Otton is only a tier or two beneath the highest tight ends within the class. He’s lighter with much less size and minimal pace. Otton by no means ran the 40 in the course of the pre-draft course of attributable to current surgical procedure on his left ankle. However on tape, pace doesn’t appear like a power. Otton struggled to get vertical all through his profession, making most of his catches beneath.

I simply don’t know what Otton followers are hanging their hat on with him. He’s barely been extra productive than Ruckert. Otton is an effective blocker, however higher than Trey McBride or Ruckert? I don’t assume so. None of his measurables stand out, nor did he make splash performs on tape. He’s powerful after the catch, however not something particular. And he’s worse in contested spots than the in-line tight ends forward of him on this listing. Otton wants to have the ability to create separation to win as a receiver, and he doesn’t do this on tape.

As a No. 2 tight finish, I’m tremendous with Otton. He seems to be versatile sufficient to be a stable 12 personnel choice for an NFL staff. Reliability shouldn’t be a difficulty, and he will help within the run recreation. Past that, I believe the expectations on the market are past what he’s more likely to attain.

12 months 1 Outlook: No. 2/3 Tight Finish

12 months 3 Outlook: Good No. 2 Tight Finish

Grade: Early Fourth Spherical (Backup)

5. Charlie Kolar, Iowa State (6-6, 252, 4.62)

Kolar made a residing on contested catches at Iowa State, however that doesn’t imply he can’t separate. There may be a whole lot of constant nuance lacking as a route runner, however Kolar is an effective athlete. His testing confirmed as a lot. Why didn’t his athleticism present up extra usually on tape? Why was his space of impression usually so near the road of scrimmage?

I believe Kolar might be one thing extra within the NFL as a receiver. He was steadily focused at Iowa State, however his splashiest performs have been fight catches. As a result of Kolar is a mean blocker at finest, his NFL ceiling shall be decided by how a lot he can develop as a route runner. However even when he doesn’t, the 23-year previous’s ability set will nonetheless be useful within the passing recreation. Ball abilities like Kolar’s are an enormous asset at tight finish, particularly within the pink zone. It’s no shock Kolar churned out 23 touchdowns in 49 video games as a Cyclone.

Kolar in all probability must be paired with a top quality blocker within the NFL, sharing enjoying time. He would possibly by no means be an 80-percent-of-snaps starter, however Kolar ought to make stable contributions as a receiver.

12 months 1 Outlook: No. 2/3 Tight Finish

12 months 3 Outlook: Strong Rotational Starter

Grade: Late third Spherical (Backup)

4. Jeremy Ruckert, Ohio State (6-5, 252, DNP)

When you informed me that in just a few years Ruckert can be the very best tight finish on this class, I wouldn’t be stunned. His tape exhibits a well-rounded participant and a very good athlete who merely didn’t obtain the chance to do a lot in school. Enjoying in an offense with three first-round vast receivers will do this to you. However Ruckert doesn’t have many apparent weaknesses on tape. He may have elevated his inventory significantly in the course of the pre-draft course of. However a foot damage throughout Senior Bowl week killed his capability to take part in Cell and on the Mix.

Ohio State TE Jeremy Ruckert NFL Draft

Ohio State TE Jeremy Ruckert – Picture by: USA TODAY

What stands out instantly about Ruckert is his body. He’s 6-foot-5, 252 kilos of muscle and it exhibits within the run recreation. Ruckert was steadily used as blocker, in-line, flexed out and on the transfer. He’s pro-ready in that regard, however must rein in his aggressiveness some. Ruckert can crush defenders, however will typically get too anxious and fall off blocks. If he brushes up his method, the senior could possibly be one of many higher blocking tight ends within the league.

The largest concern with Ruckert isn’t what he’s dangerous at on tape. It’s what we don’t know if he’s good at on tape as a result of he by no means obtained to do it. Rarely was Ruckert requested to run downfield routes, leaving his pace as considerably of an unknown. Nevertheless, throughout two lengthy performs by different Buckeyes’ ability gamers, Ruckert raced downfield to get in on the motion as a blocker. I believe his pace is best than common for an NFL tight finish. He simply hardly obtained an opportunity to point out it.

That’s the story of Ruckert’s school profession as a receiver. The 2021 season was the primary time he ever acquired greater than 17 targets in a season. However the New York native nonetheless notched simply 39 targets, reeling in 26 catches for 309 yards and three touchdowns. On 54 school catches, Ruckert scored 12 instances. Within the pink zone, he’s confirmed to be efficient. However between the 20s, there’s a lot we nonetheless have to be taught. I’ll wager on his upside, sturdy fingers and toughness after the catch within the NFL.

12 months 1 Outlook: No. 2 Tight Finish

12 months 3 Outlook: Strong Starter

Grade: Early Third Spherical (Strong Starter)

3. Jelani Woods, Virginia (6-7, 253, 4.61)

Woods has all the time been an enormous goal, however he was seldom utilized within the passing recreation till the 2021 season. After transferring from Oklahoma State to Virginia, Woods erupted as a receiver. The senior caught 44 passes for 598 yards and eight touchdowns for the Cavaliers. Then he dominated the East-West Shrine Bowl earlier than heading to the NFL Scouting Mix to steal the present. Woods ran 4.61 with an 82-inch wingspan, then crushed the jumps and agility drills at his professional day. On the subject of profitable the pre-draft course of, Woods is the poster youngster on this class.

Virginia TE Jelani Woods NFL Draft

Virginia TE Jelani Woods – Picture by: USA TODAY

However the tape is encouraging, too. Woods can stretch the sector, make catches exterior his body and excels at boxing out defenders for powerful grabs. Per PFF, Woods caught over 61 p.c of his contested alternatives this season. Along with his measurement, power and size, there’s no purpose to assume that received’t translate to the NFL. Keep in mind, tight ends aren’t usually coated by the defenders with the very best ball abilities. Woods ought to be a catch-point monster within the NFL.

Then there’s his route-running. Whereas Woods is a bit of bit stiff and extra of a build-up pace runner than a fast accelerator, he flashes some actual nuance in his routes. He’ll jab step and break the opposite method, or keep vertical and break off his routes on the final immediate. Sure, he doesn’t have the quickest change of path. However Woods is so large and quick that he’s nonetheless a tricky cowl. And when defenders do stick with him, he usually makes the seize anyway.

Can he maintain growing as a blocker? He has all of the bodily traits and the expertise, however his method and pad degree aren’t adequate proper now. Woods additionally has to scrub up the drops and received’t be an enormous menace after the catch. Nevertheless, he will help a staff in want of a movable tight finish with an enhancing all-around recreation.

12 months 1 Outlook: Offensive Weapon/No. 2 Tight Finish

12 months 3 Outlook: Strong Starter

Grade: Early Third Spherical (Strong Starter)

2. Trey McBride, Colorado State (6-4, 246, 4.56)

McBride is essentially the most succesful traditional ‘Y’ tight finish within the 2022 draft. He’s sure-handed, he adjusts very nicely to the soccer downfield and his blocking capability is top-notch. Positive, McBride isn’t the largest or strongest tight finish, however his method and ferocity within the trenches is excellent. He can play early snaps as a starter within the NFL, which is uncommon for a university tight finish.

Colorado State TE Trey McBride Bucs

Colorado State TE Trey McBride – Picture by: USA In the present day

Having stated that, there are two important issues I’ve with McBride. First, he’s not an excellent route runner proper now. All the things is rounded off, and there may be little or no nuance on the high of his route. He performs at one pace, which permits defenders to reflect him in man protection too simply. McBride should be taught to range his speeds and change into extra misleading as a route runner. He has sufficient athleticism to enhance on this space.

My second concern with McBride is how poor he’s after the catch. This can be a bonus for a decent finish, however together with his athleticism, McBride ought to be higher on this space. On 91 catches final yr, PFF credited the senior with forcing simply 5 missed tackles. That’s the identical quantity of missed tackles Ruckert pressured on simply 26 catches. Put up-catch manufacturing in all probability received’t enhance for McBride in opposition to higher tacklers and athletes. It’s a weak spot you’ll seemingly must reside with within the NFL.

Nonetheless, McBride’s ball abilities and contested catch capability is just too spectacular to overthink. He additionally makes performs within the vertical passing recreation and may block. There in all probability isn’t an elite ceiling for McBride, however he ought to be a sure-fire starter within the NFL.

12 months 1 Outlook: Strong Starter

12 months 3 Outlook: Strong Starter

Grade: Early Third Spherical (Strong Starter)

1. Greg Dulcich, UCLA (6-4, 243, 4.69)

If my offense isn’t searching for a real ‘Y’ tight finish that may play in-line and block, I might draft Dulcich first on this group. To me, he’s the very best offensive weapon amidst the 2022 tight finish class. In a singular state of affairs, he really scored higher as a receiver on my grading scale than McBride. However as a result of Dulcich is worse than McBride as a blocker, the 2 have been very shut in complete factors. A 4.69 Mix 40-yard sprint harm Dulcich’s grade, too. However I merely like him essentially the most on tape.

UCLA TE Greg Dulcich Bucs NFL Draft

UCLA TE Greg Dulcich – Picture by: Pewter Report

On tape, I assumed Dulcich was simply the very best route-running tight finish within the class. He comes out of his breaks with out shedding pace, even displaying some craftiness to separate on the high of the route. Though his Mix 40 was simply okay, Dulcich’s pace seems to be like an actual power on tape. He persistently will get separation, which resulted in only a few contested catch conditions final yr. In consequence, Dulcich doesn’t have all of the powerful grabs on tape that McBride does. However that’s as a result of he’s working in house extra usually, because of his route-running capability.

Dulcich will get spectacular opinions as an individual from folks at UCLA as nicely. Time within the weight room added vital mass to his body. However Dulcich is usually enjoying an enormous slot receiver in UCLA’s offense. Dulcich has sufficient in-line capability and expertise to have the ability to play there within the NFL. However he’s not the blocker McBride, Ruckert and others within the class are. Groups might want to maintain that in thoughts when drafting him.

Nonetheless, the strengths out-weigh the weaknesses if the scheme match is correct. Dulcich catches the ball nicely, makes performs down the sector and is an element after the catch. He might not have elite traits, however he has adequate ones to be a very good beginning tight finish in a league ravenous for them. Use him the correct method, and also you received’t remorse the decide.

12 months 1 Outlook: Offensive Weapon

12 months 3 Outlook: Good Starter

Grade: Late Second Spherical (Good Starter)


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