Apr 202022
 
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Trey McBride, Colorado State Rams (November 6, 2021)

Trey McBride – © USA TODAY Sports

TIGHT ENDS

90+: All Pro Projection

85+: Pro Bowl Projection

81-84: 1st rounder – Should be able to play right away

79-80: 2nd rounder – Should be able to rotate right away – Year 2 starter

77-78: 3rd rounder – Should be able to rotate by end of rookie year – Year 2/3 starter

74-76: Early Day 3 – Special Teams – Future backup/possible starter

71-73: Mid Day 3 – Special Teams – Future backup / gamble starter

68-70: Late Day 3 – Back end of roster / Practice Squad / Development guy

65-67: Preferred UDFA

60-64: Undrafted FA

1: Trey McBride – Colorado State – 6’4/246

Grade: 83

Summary: Senior entry from Fort Morgan, CO. Four-year starter. Winner of the 2021 Mackey Award and earned unanimous All-American honors, a first in the program’s history. Three-time All-Mountain West, first team in 2021 and 2019. McBride excelled in multiple sports growing up. He left high school as the all-time leading scorer in basketball and the all-time leader in home runs on the baseball field. His success on the gridiron, ending with the top award in the nation as a senior, speaks volumes of how much he can excel at anything he takes part in. McBride is not the top shelf athlete, and he falls just short of ideal size, but his production and feel for the game across multiple domains creates a near-sure thing at the next level. He is as competitive as it gets and there is a skill set both as a blocker and receiver that should land him a starting job early in his career. He specializes at coming away with the ball in traffic and will put everything he has into beating his man in the running game.

*McBride has been at the top of my TE stack since August and his 2021 season only hardened that position. I think this kid is a stud, and I am probably higher on him than most. I do wish he was a little bigger/longer. If he was, he would be in the 85+ tier, a credible Pro Bowl projection. McBride is a better athlete than most think (4.54 forty), he plays with tenacity across every aspect of the game, and he breeds success every time he gets on the field. This is what I want NYG to have at tight end. He is a crazy-close profile to George Kittle and I think the ball skills are even better. If he is there in round 2 (I don’t think he will be), there won’t be many guys I want more than him.

2: Jeremy Ruckert – Ohio State – 6’5/252

Grade: 80

Summary: Senior entry from Lindenhurst, NY. Two-plus year starter that earned honorable mention All-Big 10 honors in 2021. After being the number two overall tight end recruit from the 2018 class, Ruckert never quite matched the hype because of an overly crowded and talented wide receiver room at Ohio State. His looks in the passing game just weren’t frequent enough to showcase his talent. He saw just 71 targets over the three seasons he was a big part of the offense. He did, however, display his ability to block both in-line and up the field. Ruckert’s hands, physical nature, and high on-field IQ made him a weapon on plays he was not thrown to. His impact will be felt there right away, and he could end up showing more as a receiver at the next level than he did in college. This is a guy that dropped just one pass over his career and scored 12 touchdowns on those 71 targets. He can be a weapon and an asset, one that sneaks up on the league in a classic “Y” tight end role.

*Ruckert is another round 2 option (I think most are projecting round 3) for NYG in my eyes. This guy is a full blown starting tight end week 1 in his rookie year. I don’t say that about a lot of guys, as the transition from college to NFL for tight ends is just brutal. Ruckert is the best blocker of the group (besides guys that are only blockers). He has a lot of Dalton Schultz in his game in that he will be equally reliable as a receiver and blocker but if he gets consistent looks in the passing game, his production will be higher than any Giants tight end since Shockey. I think he is one of the safest picks in the draft, just don’t expect Travis Kelce.

3: Greg Dulcich – UCLA – 6’4/243

Grade: 80

Summary: Fourth year junior entry from Glendale, California. Two-year starter that earned 1st Team All-Pac 12 honors in 2021, 2nd Team in 2020. Dulcich proved to be a big play threat from a position that is usually reserved for threats underneath. Over his two seasons as a starter, he led the Bruins in receiving (1,242) and yards per catch (18.2), uncommon for the position. He has a unique blend of burst, speed, and ability to play an acrobatic brand. While he still has some developing to do physically, he brings a high-effort and no-nonsense style to the field that can create mismatches across the board. Dulcich won’t be an every down player early on, but his contributions to the passing game can be immediate and if he adds enough power and mass to his frame, he can be a very good starter at the next level.

*Sometimes you watch a guy one time and just “have a feeling”. I watched Dulcich against LSU early in the year and immediately said he was going to be a 1st or 2nd rounder. Nobody even had him entering the draft at that point. I never wavered and here we are, Dulcich declared and may be the highest-upside receiver at the position in the class. He has a unique style of movement to him, and he can really go up and get it. The one issue beyond his low-level blocking? I’m not sure I would label him a “soft-hands” type. I think he may be a guy that drops some easy balls. The question is, will the big plays overshadow the lowlights? It didn’t work with Engram but there are situations where it does pan out. I have a high enough grade on him to be in the discussion round 2.

4: Jelani Woods – Virginia – 6’7/253

Grade: 78

Summary: Senior entry from Ellenwood, GA. Three-year starter at Oklahoma State prior to transferring to Virginia for the 2021 season where he also started for one year. Two-time honorable mention All-Big 12 and capped his career off earning first team All-ACC honors in 2021. Woods’ frame and long stride speed stand out. He is such a tall and wide target in the passing game with a raw feel. The former quarterback still has some nuances to fix as a route runner, but his ball skills and ability after the catch are noteworthy and present long-term promise. He may not be ready for life in the trenches early on, but the competitive streak and tools are there to be an all-around player at a classic tight end set up.

*I am excited about Woods’ upside. I see so many Marcedes Lewis comparisons with his tool set. However, him reaching that kind of ceiling will come down to what Lewis did after he was drafted. That dude took a lot of pride in his blocking and developing that skill set. The size, speed, and ability to catch the ball in traffic and on the move is already there. If Woods wants to be that kind of player, he needs to LOVE blocking and truly understand how much a team needs a presence from that role. I am not sure I see the fire in him, but Lewis didn’t either coming out of UCLA. Woods is a high risk, high reward guy.

5: Cade Otton – Washington – 6’5/247

Grade: 77

Summary: Fifth year senior from Turnwater, WA. Four-year starter that earned first team All-Pac 12 honors in 2021. Otton brings a very high floor to the table for teams that want a steady, long-term starter at tight end. He checks all the boxes when it comes to size, athletic ability, and ever down impact. He shows tremendous upside as a blocker with his explosive hands and sturdy base along with a keen sense of where to be and what to do. Otton also brings a sense of steadiness to the passing game with his ability to get suddenly open and fight through traffic for the ball. His greatest trait arises after the catch. He is a load to bring down and runs with a lot of will and toughness. He barrels over defensive backs and looks like the biggest kid at recess that nobody wants to deal with. Otton has some limitations when it comes to speed and agility but he is good enough in those departments to complement his style well. Has the ideal frame and body type for an every down role.

*The standout trait that I like here is how physical Otton plays with the ball in his hands. He will get those yards after contact that stem from defensive backs that don’t know how to tackle. The size and strength are solid, but it is the attitude and “want to” that he plays with. He will be a good, not great, blocker too. There are a few of the day two guys / projected starters that I prefer but he is a solid fall back option.

6: Charlie Kolar – Iowa State – 6’6/254

Grade: 77

Summary: Fifth year senior from Norman, OK. Three-plus year starter that earned first team All-Big 12 honors in 2019, 2020, and 2021 in addition to third team All-American honors in both 2019 and 2020. Kolar, an award-winning student as well, fits the mold of the “Y” tight end perfectly. His size from any and every angle is top tier and he proved to be a reliable pass catcher that can be key component to an air attack. The lack of speed and burst could limit the routes and depth of target he brings to the table, but his success in traffic over the years means something. Kolar does not have standout athletic traits and he needs to learn how to block with more urgency and toughness, but his floor is very high. Kolar will be a starter or second tight end that sees the field a lot. A sure thing to at least be useable and reliable week to week.

*Kolar has had a really solid pre-draft process. His workout at the Pro Day went better than expected and he showed well at Senior Bowl week. While I still don’t see a sudden mover on tape, Kolar’s size and strong catching mechanics in traffic are enticing. I think he may need a transition year before being depended on as an every down guy, but he had a weird role at Iowa State. They used so many tight ends and Kolar was split out way more than he was in-line. Get him stronger, get him more comfortable with his hand in the dirt, and view him as a starter in 2023.

7: Daniel Bellinger – San Diego State – 6’5/253

Grade: 76

Senior entry from Las Vegas, NV. Three-year starter than earned Honorable Mention All-Mountain West honors in 2020. Bellinger has the tool set and ability to play the traditional Y tight end spot. While his skill set is more receiver-friendly, he does show enough upside and ability to create impact as a blocker. He plays a twitchy, sudden game and understands his role well. Bellinger may not have the man-strength quite yet to have a big role, but he should fill the back end of a depth chart early on. He is a plus-athlete with some sneaky upside to him when it comes to getting open and making things happen after the catch.

*It would not surprise me one bit to see Bellinger sneak into the end of round two. The triangle numbers are really solid, and he didn’t drop a single ball over his last two seasons. I just wish he got more looks in the passing game at San Diego State. He will likely be a year two guy at earliest because he had a hard time with defensive-linemen in the Mountain West. I think NFL guys will eat him early on.

8: Jake Ferguson – Wisconsin – 6’5/250

Grade: 74

Summary: Fifth year senior from Madison, WI. Three-year starter that earned first team All-Big 10 honors in both 2021 and 2020, honorable mention in 2019. Ferguson falls just below the line when it comes to difference-making speed and size for the position, but he brings a well-balanced skill set to the table that can at least somewhat hinder that. He is a smart and savvy receiver with plus-ball skills. He makes the acrobatic catch look easy and can create with the ball in his hands. He struggled to make a consistent impact as a blocker, as the strength below the waist and inability to latch on to his man showed up on tape several times. He will fill the back end of a depth chart early and can develop into a rotational player if he can gain and maintain mass and power.

*Ferguson is a pure football kid from a pure football family. His grandfather is former Wisconsin Head Coach Barry Alvarez. While I think he is a tad short on talent and upside, I feel safe with him as a backup that plays a few snaps weekly and can be used without a specialty outlook. That means he is a threat to catch or block, not just one or the other. I don’t see the upside as a starter, but that does not mean he is a bad day tree pick. He feels safer than some of the other guys in this tier.

9: Isaiah Likely – Coastal Carolina – 6’4/245

Grade: 73

Summary: Senior entry from Cambridge, MA. Three-year starter that earned first team All-Sun Belt each of his last two seasons and was also a second team All-American in 2021. Likely’s production was somewhat a product of the scheme he played in that had a lot of easy catches for him programmed within. However, a deeper look into the film and there is a reel of high difficulty catches down the field in traffic. He is an athletic, natural receiver with soft hands, dropping just one pass out of 79 targets in 2021. The issue with him revolves around blocking and overall size. His grades there are as low as it gets, and he does not seem overly interested in impacting the play unless he is a target in the passing game. He can make it as a move-tight end but with fewer and fewer teams using that kind of weapon, the demand for his services will be low. In the right system, Likely can be a sneaky-good option though.

*Catch the right film and you will think Likely is a top 100 guy that belongs in the tier with the first six on this list. I don’t see that, but he does have good athleticism and soft hands. Always a good place to start. He won’t ever factor as a blocker, so you really need to carve out that role for him. How much is it worth unless we are talking about an elite receiver? Likely is not that. It is un-Likely we will see him as a top tier guy, but you could find a spot if the scheme wants someone to motion pre-snap and mostly run routes.

10: James Mitchell – Virginia Tech – 6’4/249

Grade: 73

Summary: Senior entry from Big Stone Gap, VA. Three-year starter that played in just two games in 2021 due to a knee injury that required surgery. Mitchell will project to a motion-tight end at the next level. His best blocking performances are on the move in space, as he matches up well enough against speed and quickness. He is a savvy receiver with enough shake and suddenness at the top of his routes to create some separation. He won’t need much, as his ball skills and contact presence at the catch point look sturdy and reliable. Mitchell is a savvy player on all fronts that will get the most out of himself. He will be coming off an ACL injury and surgery, but this is a long-term player that will be in the league beyond his rookie deal as a solid number two tight end.

*After watching all of Mitchell’s film that I could get my hands on from 2020-2021, I saw someone that I wanted on the back end of my depth chart. If I have a starter and quality backup, Mitchell is someone I want. His game looks pro-caliber across multiple spectrums. I will admit he is short on tools and won’t stand out anywhere in particular, but there are subtle things I see on tape he does better than other guys. And he has made some ridiculous catches on tape. Coming off the ACL may delay his start a bit, so that factored in a little as well.

11: Chigoziem Okonkwo – Maryland – 6’2/238

Grade: 71

Senior entry from Power Springs, GA. Spent two years as a part time starter before sitting all out of 2020 because of a heart condition. Okonkwo came back strong in 2021, starting full time and earning Honorable Mention All-Big 10 honors. While the size and power presence will prevent Okonkwo from playing every down, his potential in a hybrid / H-Back role will be a draw to several teams. He plays incredibly quick and twitchy in addition to showing the ability to run away from defenders in space. Okonkwo is not a fit for every scheme, but a creative mind can find ways to use his talent.

*I could have put Oknokwo in with the fullbacks. He is going to be someone that teams use in multiple roles. In-line, motion, and the backfield. The Chargers used Stephen Anderson like this in 2021 and it was a very underrated aspect of their offense. This dude is a specimen and a very good athlete. I think he has some upside worth trying to develop. If the new offense wants to get away from using a roster spot on a fullback, Okonkwo is a guy worth pursuing. He can do it.

12: Teagan Quitoriano – Oregon State – 6’6/256

Grade: 71

Summary: Senior entry from Salem, OR. Four-year starter that earned honorable mention All-Pac 12 honors in both 2020 and 2021. Quitoriano was a two-sport star in high school that also excelled on the hardwood. He brings that kind of skill set to the table; a power forward capable of using his big frame to box out defenders and his quick feet to get initial advantages. The tool set he has should fit in nicely toward the bottom of a depth chart early on. With the role he expects to play as an in-line tight end, he needs to get much stronger as he will be matched up against pro defensive linemen often. He had issues sustaining blocks. His lack of athleticism, especially when moving laterally, will not permit him to be a true big-time threat as a receiver. He should be able to find a role as an underneath threat in the red zone on third down, however.

*Big country kid that shows the upside of being a problem for guys trying to prevent him from catching the ball. Someone with this size that also has a basketball background will always be a draw. He is more developmental than the mid-rounders but he also has a higher ceiling. Another really solid option for a day three pick that sits on the bottom of the depth chart. Has some young Kevin Boss to him.

13: Peyton Hendershot – Indiana – 6’4/250

Grade: 69

Summary: Fifth year senior from North Salem, IN. Four-year starter that earned All-Big 10 honors three times. Hendershot was a big part of the Indiana passing game. He finished second on the team in catches in 2019 and led the team in 2021. He does not have a standout physical trait but if he gets his hands on the ball, he will bring it in. He dropped just two passes over the past three years, an amazing ratio to his 121 catches. He needs to prove he can handle himself in the trenches against linemen, but he has the desire and want-to. Hendershot as an arrest on his record that needs to be investigated.

*Hendershot is a grinder. He plays through traffic so well. He is a tough dude that will create with the ball in his hands. He was a focal point of a passing game and rarely dropped the ball. The issue is upside stemming from lackluster tools. What is the upside here? He looks maxed out, but I like having young hungry guys like this on a bad roster. They bring the energy and can help build the culture. Hendershot won’t be a big factor in the league, but this is the kind of guy that sticks around.

14: Cole Turner – Nevada – 6’6/249

Grade: 69

Senior entry from Clackamas, OR. Two-year starter that earned All-Mountain West honors both seasons, first team in 2020. Turner has the body of either an oversized wide receiver or undersized tight end. Throw in the fact he mostly lined up in the slot away from the defensive line, and we are looking at a hybrid space-dependent player. He will not survive against pro defensive ends and outside linebackers as a blocker. His value will revolve around making plays on the ball downfield. He does not have blazing speed or explosive traits, but he does have quality tape in contested situations. For teams that reserve a role for a tight end that lines up split out, Turner will be an intriguing player to try and develop over the course of two or three years.

*Turner was a WR for a couple years before moving to “tight end” in 2020. I put that in quotes because he lined up in-line under 100 times. He really was an oversized slot in that offense. His body is terrible. Just looks like a guy that couldn’t decide if he wants to be a receiver or tight end, so he chose neither. He has some quality ball skills and production though. At his height and knowing he is nowhere near where he could be physically, there is a sliver of hope for him. Late round gamble only.

15: Jalen Wydermyer – Texas A& M – 6’4 – 255

Grade: 69

Summary: Junior entry from Dickinson, TX. Three-year starter that earned 2nd Team All SEC honors all three seasons. A 2020 Mackey Award finalist. Wydermyer is dripping with tools, talent, and potential. He has the prototype body plus some extra length and ability to track the ball. He shows flashes of being an ideal tight end target in today’s pass-happy NFL, one that will cause matchup nightmares across the board. He is capable of adjusting his weight to the pass in an instant and has made multiple highlight-reel plays over his career. The issue is everything in between. His drop rate and blocking grades are bottom tier. The lack of consistency and reliability make him a very boom-or-bust prospect. If he can approach his own progression with more attention to detail and passion for the small things, he can be quality starter and true difference maker. If he stays on this current track, he will live on the bottom of the depth chart.

*What a major fall for this kid over the past year. This time about 12 months ago, many were assuming top 45 pick. He had quality tape, good production, and appeared to have the tools. There were some off-field red flags but nothing too serious. He then goes out and puts out poor tape week after week. Dropping balls left and right, missing blocks, and looking lethargic. Then, puts together one of the worst Pro Day workouts of all time for the position. He ran a 5.02 forty, a space usually reserved for linemen. His jumps are bottom 5% historically. There have been 2 tight ends in history drafted with this kind of package, both primarily for blocking. Wydermyer is not a good blocker. The only reason he makes a late round draftable grade is the fact he has some quality tape from a couple years ago. Not sure what happened but it is worth looking into to see if someone can motivate him.

BEST OF THE REST

16: Nicholas Muse – South Carolina – 6’4/258: 68
17: Gerrit Prince – UAB – 6’4/241: 68
18: Armani Rogers – Ohio – 6’5/226: 68
19: Grant Calcaterra – SMU – 6’4/241: 68
20: Derrick Deese Jr – San Jose State – 6’3/236: 67
21: Chase Allen – Iowa State – 6’6/251: 67
22: Austin Allen – Nebraska – 6’8/253: 67
23: Curtis Hodges – Arizona State – 6’8/257: 66
24: Trae Berry – Boston College – 6’6/247: 66
25: John Fitzpatrick – Georgia – 6’7/262: 66
26: Zaire Mitchell – Florida Atlantic – 6’4/256: 65
27: Lucas Krull – Pittsburgh – 6’6/254: 65
28: John Babicz – North Dakota State – 6’6/255: 65
29: Jamal Pettitgrew – McNeese State – 6’6/244: 65
30: Erik Krommenhoek – USC – 6’5/245: 65

NYG APPROACH

If you take position value out of the equation, a. strong case can be made for tight end being the number one need on this team. Now that Evan Engram can officially be labeled a first round bust, the cupboard is bare. There are ways around an offense not having one and I feel Daboll is just the guy to handle that responsibility. He knows how to scheme around a hole at a position to maximize what a team actually has. The issue? This team just does not have much to scheme into. Nothing to sink teeth into. Nothing to put trust into. With that in mind, this front office needs to get a tight end in here, preferably early and I will tell you why.

A quality every down tight end (running and blocking) will elevate what this team can do both in the running and passing game. The NYG offensive line will likely still be an issue. They will have at least one rookie on the line, the likely spot being right tackle. Ricky Seals-Jones and Chris Myarick and Jake Hausmann are not going to help enough when trying to open up running lanes for Barkley or provide aid in pass protection. In addition, the tight end needs to be a big part of the third down offense. That spot needs to have a guy who can quickly get into his route and catch balls in traffic. This will be a quick-strike offense, thus that tight end needs to feed into that approach. While Seals-Jones can give some oversized wide receiver assistance, there is a reason why he has averaged under 3 starts a year over his five-year career. He has never caught more than two-thirds of his targets either.

The tight end spot is important regardless of how spread open you think this offense will be. Dawson Knox, for example, was on the field for just under 90% of the team’s snaps in Buffalo last year. He was second on the team in touchdowns (9) and second on the team in passer rating when targeted (127.8). NYG needs to find their version of Knox as soon as possible. I prefer McBride (round 2) or Ruckert (possibly round 3). While they may not pay the dividends you want right away, this draft is mostly about being ready to compete in 2023. No matter who the quarterback is at that time, a more-than-serviceable tight end will be a huge part of this offense getting out of the basement. In fact, I wouldn’t even mind a double dip at the position if there was a late day three value there like Quitoriano.

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David Syvertsen

David Syvertsen, aka Sy'56, has worked for Ourlads Scouting LLC since 2013, starting off as a college depth chart manager and now a lead scout for one the most-sold NFL draft guides year-in, year-out. He has been scouting for over 10 years and will compile anywhere from 400-600 scouting reports per season, with that number increasing year by year. He watches and studies game films 20-25 hours per week throughout the entire year with his main focus being NFL Draft prospects.

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