If you’ve played college fantasy, devy, Campus to Canton, or even followed the draft for any length of time, you’re probably aware that college football has a mass talent exodus at tight end this offseason. There was no “surefire” top name in the 2022 NFL Draft class. Days 2 & 3 were littered with recognizable names – Isaiah Likely, Trey McBride, Charlie Kolar, Jalen Weidermyer, and plenty more who were integral to the success of their respective programs over the last five seasons.
This article is a non-exhaustive look at some of the categories I see forming across the college football landscape. For a complete listing of my rankings, along with every other ranker here at Campus2Canton, look at our Rankings Tool.
Not much needs to be said about the top two TEs entering 2022. Both Michael Mayer and Brock Bowers should provide strong production this season due to the circumstances of their offenses. We are split right down the middle on these guys here at C2C, but both are the obvious anchors at the position. If you have one of them, you’re doing great. Barring something crazy, both should maintain high value as they enter the NFL. Ole Miss TE Michael Trigg probably belongs close to this group as well. While we’ve yet to see him truly unleashed during the regular season, his flashes at USC last year and his spring explosion get him close to this tier.
MAKE OR BREAK
After those top guys, there’s a big group of TEs that have reached the point where a breakout needs to happen. This is a risky tier because we’ve reached our limit with these players. If they don’t hit this year, they lose a significant chunk of their value. But their physical tools mean a break-out boosts them into a higher tier.
Theo Johnson, Year 3 (Penn State): Johnson was an uber-athletic kid from Canada three years ago, and now…he’s still an uber-athletic kid without much production to show for it.
Johnson has been extremely inconsistent over his career as a route runner and has also had some drop issues (10% drop rate in 2021). Production is not necessarily king for the TE position, but he wasn’t even the most productive guy on Penn State’s roster last season. If we don’t see growth this season, Johnson likely falls in my rankings.
Baylor Cupp, Year 4 (Texas Tech): Baylor Cupp’s biggest issue thus far has been his health. As a true freshman in 2019, he sustained a season-ending ankle injury in the preseason. In 2020, another injury kept him out for the entire year. And in 2021, more injuries and a crowded depth chart kept him from registering a single stat. Cupp left Texas A&M for a fresh start at Texas Tech, a team that figures to pass the ball a bunch this season. Can Cupp finally stay healthy and show us what he can do? It’s probably his last chance, so I hope it happens for his sake.
Arik Gilbert, Year 3 (Georgia): Full disclosure, I started writing this article before the spring game slate of 2022, before time got away from me with other projects. Of the players in this grouping, Gilbert answered more questions than anyone. The last time we saw Gilbert on a football field was in the COVID shortened 2020 season when he opted out of the final three games of LSU’s season. Rumors swirled as to why. Was he homesick? Was it related to academics? A disciplinary issue? Regardless, Gilbert transferred closer to home that offseason, but more issues kept him from participating in Georgia’s National Championship run in 2021. We wondered if we’d seen the last of Gilbert.
And then, this spring happened. Reports surfaced that Gilbert looked good in practice, but stories like that are a dime a dozen in the offseason. Gilbert blew up in the spring game, scoring multiple touchdowns. He looked like his freshman self. The only noticeable difference was the few extra pounds he’s still carrying. Gilbert was once considered the runaway TE1 in the 2023 class. While he’s ceded that title to Michael Mayer, a huge season could put him back in the discussion.
Others: Sam LaPorta (Year 4 – Iowa), Darnell Washington (Year 3 – Georgia), Maliq Carr (Year 3 – Michigan State
This is the most intriguing group of TEs at this point in the offseason and a group that I regularly draft 2-3 from in every supplemental draft I’m in. These guys have done virtually nothing in college but have the size and athletic ability that the NFL craves at the TE position.
Chamon Metayer, Year 2 (Cincinnati): The only reason I even knew the name Metayer coming into this offseason was because fellow C2C’er Alfred Fernandez highlighted him as a player of interest last year. He’s reportedly gained 30+ pounds in his first year, and the results are encouraging. Although Cincy’s spring game was not televised, Metayer caught a TD from presumptive starter Evan Prater and drew rave reports. Cincy TEs have been used regularly over the years, and the receiver room is relatively inexperienced. I’m aggressively ranking Metayer inside my top eight Campus to Canton TEs and don’t feel bad about it.
Oscar Delp, Year 1 (Georgia): Although early consensus elevated Jaleel Skinner to TE1 in the 2022 freshman class, Delp’s spring performance has boosted him to the top of the list. Delp is slightly undersized, but most freshman TEs are nowadays. Delp’s route running ability, strong hands, and ability to work all three levels of a defense should aid in his development. The depth chart at Georgia is the most crowded in the country, but he has been so good that something had to give. In a long-term game, Delp is my TE6, and I’m tempted to move him higher every day.
Arlis Boardingham – TE19— Austin (@devydeets) April 12, 2022
This Florida tFR was listed as an ATH, but is destined to be a TE/H-Back type guy for the Gators. He could see a nice second year bump like another former athlete on this list (Metayer) pic.twitter.com/AzcUVbRXdN
Arlis Boardingham, Year 1 (Florida): You want an athlete at the TE position? Boardingham certainly checks that box. A 6’4, 220-pound ATH with offers from tons of blue blood schools, Boardingham should take a year to develop like Metayer and then hit the ground running in year 2. He profiles as more of an H-back, but if the Gator staff can get creative with him, he can be a chess piece for them. I like Boardingham as a guy that can potentially produce in college and maybe translate that into an NFL future.
Others: Jaleel Skinner (Year 1 – Miami), Elijah Arroyo (Year 2 – Miami), Kaden Helms (Year 1 – Oklahoma)
This final group contains TEs that should score some solid points for you on the college side of your C2C rosters, but there isn’t much hope for an NFL future beyond that. These players hold some value but should be relatively cheap if you’re contending and be moved immediately if you aren’t.
Joshua Simon, Year 4 (Western Kentucky): WKU’s offense was scary enough in 2021 with Jerreth Sterns and Mitchell Tinsley, but many forget that the Hilltoppers’ offense was supposed to be a three-headed monster. Before his season-ending injury in their opener, Simon had three catches for 73 yards and two touchdowns. With the departure of Sterns and Tinsley – and QB Bailey Zappe as well – Simon figures to be an important player for WKU in 2022. I can’t entirely rule out some future draft capital, but the lack of competition in CUSA may ultimately knock him down boards.
Zack Kuntz, Year 5 (Old Dominion): Kuntz was one of the top TEs in college fantasy last season, finishing with a line of 73/692/5. Kuntz is enormous for the position (6’8″), and he isn’t a great athlete. He probably won’t be a priority for NFL teams next year. If you need a guy to hold down a spot while some of your up-and-comers develop, Kuntz should be that guy. I’d expect a similar season from him in 2022.
Others: Gary Williams (Year 5 – Colorado State), Marshon Ford (Year 5 – Louisville)