Tight ends are probably the most challenging position to predict; we find very few trends through regression analysis. NCAA metrics that we find correlate to fantasy success at the NFL level are dominator rating, weight, 40-yard dash, and speed score. Tight ends typically take three years to breakout, and as an inpatient manager, I hate to hold onto prospects for three years to find out he’s a dud or a middle of the pack TE2.

My advice is to only commit serious draft capital to players believed to be a home run. For example, Kyle Pitts is struggling and having the stereotypical first year as a TE. Hockensen and Fant got serious draft capital and took time to breakout. Some prospects lack draft capital, as Darren Waller drafted in the late sixth and Kittle in the fifth, and still end up in the top-tier elite category. The position is tough to predict, and at this point and time, we do not know their official speed score or 40-yard dash until the combine or pro day. Let’s dive into some future heart-breaking prospects that are worth a look, and maybe I would invest some late second-round draft capital in single QB leagues.

TE1 – Trey McBride

2022 NFL Draft: Colorado State's Trey McBride a future star at tight end
Courtesy of Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
  • Height/Weight: 6’4″ / 260Lbs
  • 2021 DOM: 36.2%

Trey McBride has risen to the top of my board for the 2022 TE draft class. Watching him play, I expect him to crush test results. He is a physical monster after the catch and runs lighter than 260 lbs. After four weeks of college ball, he has 20 contested catches on his resume. McBride has been deployed in multiple positions; inline, slot, and half-back. He is excellent at using his large frame to get between the defender and the ball. McBride has great ball tracking, and he excels at pass-catching abilities. His blocking is going to need improvement at the next level. Watching the tape, he has the fundamentals down and could become an instant starter at the next level.

TE2 – Jalen Wydermyer

Texas A&M TE Jalen Wydermyer to miss spring practice after 'freak,  off-the-field accident'
Courtesy of Ashley Landis / Staff Photography
  • Height/Weight: 6’5″ / 255Lbs
  • 2021 DOM: 16.5%

It’s been a quiet season so far for one of the top prospects preseason. Wydermyer has prototypical size and holds the Texas A&M all-time touchdown record, beating Martellus Bennett. Wydermeyer has numerous physical features that make him an intriguing prospect. He showcases a great aptitude as a blocker. He is willing and finds success against top college competition. His size, frame, and wingspan make him a great contested catch target. Wydermyer has the speed to be a threat at all three levels of the field. He could use some more upper body strength and has a very decent route tree for a TE. Wydermyer has the prototypical size and athletic profile to be elite but needs to put it all together on the field. He won’t be the focal point of the offense at A&M, but I would not be surprised if he is the first TE called on draft night., and I believe he’s a lock for second-round draft capital.

TE3 – Greg Dulcich

Greg Dulcich - Football - UCLA
Courtesy of Gary A. Vasquez / USA Today
  • Height/Weight: 6’4″ / 245Lbs
  • 2021 DOM: 18.4%

A former walk-on receiver turned tight end, Greg Dulcich was not on anyone’s radar until the season started. He has decent size and has showcased his receiving ability. He’s smooth in his breaks and has solid route-running ability. I honestly have a hard time gaging his speed watching his film; the combine will tell all. What worries me is his transition from TE and WR. He must have worked very hard to become the player he is today, and it speaks volumes about his work ethic and dedication. He still has ways to improve his craft. For now, is he just a receiving threat, with a need to improve his blocking ability. The arrow is pointing up, and I’m confident an NFL team will take him for his work ethic and is making a strong case for being drafted on the second day.

TE4 – Jeremy Ruckett

Ohio State tight end Jeremy Ruckert builds toward fall football season
Coursey of Adam Cairns / Dispatch
  • Height/Weight: 6’5″ / 255lbs
  • 2021 DOM: 6.9%

Ruckert’s production profile will not flash due to the most crowded receiving room in all of college football. His entire career, he has showcased solid hands. Through four weeks, he has an 83.3% catch rate. His skill set will make him an endzone threat. Over the past three years, he has posted a 27% TD rate. He has some separating ability and shows some lateral agility in his breaks on his routes. He may be the best blocker in the top tier of TEs, and excels in every blocking category; inline, lead blocker on a run, and picking up blocks at the next level. The small sample size at receiving will be held against him. We just saw Tre’Mckitty get drafted in the third round with only six catches on his final season, though. The Ohio state name will also carry value – look for his name to be called day two.

TE5 – Charlie Kolar

NFL Draft Profile: Charlie Kolar, Tight End, Iowa State Cyclones - The NFL  Draft Bible on Sports Illustrated: The Leading Authority on the NFL Draft
Courtesy of Sports Illustrated
  • Height/Weight: 6’6″ / 260Lbs
  • 2021 DOM: 20.2%

Kolar is a big-bodied tight end for a run-first team. This gives him plenty of work and practice as a blocker. He’s a vertical contested-catch specialist. He has flashed versatility lining up all over the field. As a pass-catcher, Kolar has shown some nice contact balance but lacks route-running skills and speed. He does a great job at understanding his weaknesses and uses his large frame to the fullest, blocking out defenders and excelling at the catch point. Kolar is another TE who flashes instant starter ability with his red-zone usage and willingness to be a blocker.

TE6 – Isaiah Likely

Isaiah Likely - Football - Coastal Carolina University Athletics
Courtesy of CCU Photography
  • Height/Weight: 6’4″ / 245Lbs
  • 2021 DOM: 24.7%

Likely looks fast on the field and has established himself as a vertical threat. Compared to last year, I have not seen as much of a forced missed tackle ability, although he has the skillset for accumulating yards after the catch. Likely features some solid catching ability with only one drop on the year and has made one-handed contested catches. He has a versatile skillset and moves around the formation to the inline, slot, and wide position. Likely is another TE that needs improvement on blocking assignments. He does not show the same aptitude as a blocker as he does receive the ball. If he can’t block G5 linemen, this will be a project area at the next level.

TE7 – Cade Otton

Cade Otton Could Be TE1 in April, 2022 ⋆ The Draft Team
Jennifer Buchanan, USA TODAY Sports
  • Height/Weight: 6’5″ / 250Lbs
  • 2021 DOM: 12.5%

I haven’t been impressed this year so far. He’s only played three games, though, so there’s plenty of time to flash on the year. Last year, Otton showed a great short-area burst and used this as a receiver and blocker. Compared to others in this class, I thought he needed the most improvement on blocking. He put on 10 lbs from last year to this year, and I’m going to be keeping my eye on improvement in that area. I believe he lacks the athletic ability to be elite at the next level. Otton flashes receiving ability by using his frame to shield defenders and outstanding zone coverage, actively finding holes. With the departure of Harrison Bryant, I’m worried if he can rise to be the top TE option and even produce against top competition. I need more of a production profile to feel confident, and if the production does not come this year, I expect him to go back for another year.

Some Loose Ends

Some readers are reading this list and thinking that some names are missing, but these guys are still very much on the radar, Jahleel Billingsley and Sam LaPorta. I don’t believe Jahleel Comes out for the draft, and he’s very undersized and only a junior. I think he’ll take the extra year to bulk up and build chemistry with his top-end QB, Bryce Young. Sam LaPorta is seemingly coming out of nowhere this year, and he comes from a school that produces high-end TE talent. I want to end this by typing the word ‘end’ as many times as possible, which will bring an end to my TE article.

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