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NFL Draft Prospect Rankings: Tight end

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 24 Wake Forest at Virginia Photo by Lee Coleman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tight end is a sneaky need for the Eagles in the 2022 NFL Draft. While Dallas Goedert has emerged as one of the best tight ends in the NFL, the team’s depth beyond him is… not great. Jack Stoll contributed heavily in his rookie season, impressing as a blocker. However, the Eagles were limited due to Stoll not being a viable receiving threat. Having a No. 2 tight end who can block and catch the ball would really benefit the offense. Luckily, this class is really solid at tight end. While it does not have top tier prospects like the last few drafts, it definitely has guys with upside to be NFL difference makers. Here are the top ten tight ends this year.

PREVIOUS POSITION RANKINGS: Quarterback | Wide receiver | Running back.

Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina, 6’4”, 245 Pounds

What he does well: Isaiah Likely was as dangerous a receiving threat at tight end as there was in college football over the last two years. His athleticism at the position made him a match-up nightmare, being too big for defensive backs and too fast for linebackers. Likely is a smooth route runner with good hands and has the skill set of a modern NFL tight end. He is a strong runner who can easily pick up yards after the catch.

Where he can improve: Being a bit lighter at the position means blocking does not come as naturally and will require a bit more want-to in the NFL. Likely had moments where he depended too much on athleticism to separate.

NFL Comparison: Mark Andrews

Trey McBride, Colorado State, 6’3”, 246 Pounds

What he does well: Trey McBride ate up targets at CSU, catching 90 passes in 2021. McBride is a polished route runner and catches everything thrown his way, having no problem bringing the ball down with defenders around him. He is a quarterback’s best friend in the short game.

Where he can improve: McBride leaves a lot to be desired as a blocker. Good athlete at tight end, but not dynamic with the ball in his hands. Lack of production as a scorer worth noting, but could be a product of teams knowing to cover him in the red zone.

NFL Comparison: Hunter Henry

Greg Dulcich, UCLA, 6’4”, 243 Pounds

What he does well: Dulcich is a dynamic receiver who had incredible production and efficiency catching the football. His size, speed, and ball skills made him the most dangerous receiving threat in the UCLA offense. He will likely be deployed as a big slot in the NFL.

Where he can improve: Dulcich is not a natural blocker due to lack of bulk and length. Teams will probably want to keep him out of inline situations as much as possible.

NFL Comparison: Dawson Knox

Jeremy Ruckert, OSU, 6’5”, 252 Pounds

What he does well: Ohio State fielded one of the nation’s most dynamic and talented passing games in 2021 with three of four receivers who will eventually be first round picks. Despite the star power, Jeremy Ruckert stood out every game as a contributor catching the football and his tremendous effort as a run blocker. Ruckert has good straight line speed and soft hands, making him viable to eat up all the open field left by defenses focusing elsewhere. Ruckert does a good job attacking soft spots in zones and is a good option on third down.

Where he can improve: Ruckert is not the dynamic receiver-first that his classmates are. He lacks the agility and route running savvy to be a truly game changing receiver. That being said, he is a good enough athlete whose run blocking prowess will get him on the field.

NFL Comparison: Gary Barnidge

Chigoziem Okonkwo, Maryland, 6’2”, 238 Pounds

What he does well: Chigoziem “Chig” Okonkwo is one of the best athletes in the tight end class. He has a tremendous blend of explosiveness and agility, all contained in a muscled up 6’2” frame. His athleticism is evident at moments on tape and he was a factor in the Maryland offense after missing all of 2020.

Where he can improve: Okonkwo does not have a ton of experience at the position, only having one full year as a starter. This is evident in the lack of polish to his game, both as a receiver and blocker. He certainly has the talent to be a difference maker in the NFL, but it will take patience and good coaching.

NFL Comparison: Dustin Keller

Cole Turner, Nevada, 6’6”, 246 Pounds

What he does well: Cole Turner was a crucial part of the Nevada passing game. With a huge frame and long arms, Turner was a problem for defenders to match up against. Turner’s size meant winning 50-50 balls on a regular basis and being a factor down in the red zone. Despite being a taller target, he had no problem moving through routes with speed and ease.

Where he can improve: Lack of long speed hurts ability to stretch defenses down the seam. Turner could also put more weight on to his frame to gain advantages as a blocker. Lack of upper level athleticism could cap ceiling in the NFL.

NFL Comparison: Gavin Escobar

Jelani Woods, Virginia, 6’7”, 256 Pounds

What he does well: Jelani Woods is up there among the best athletes in this class, period. His speed, explosiveness and size combination are one of a kind among his peers. Woods really came into his own in 2021, showing out as a dynamic receiving threat for the Cavaliers after years without producing at Oklahoma State.

Where he can improve: A former quarterback recruit, Woods’ best football is very much still ahead of him. He took remarkable leaps in 2021 but can continue to improve technically as a receiver and a blocker. Woods draft position is very hard to predict because a team could want to spend big to take a bet on his upside.

NFL Comparison: Logan Thomas

Cade Otton, Washington, 6’5”, 247 Pounds

What he does well: When he was on the field, Cade Otton consistently impressed as a receiver. His route running was smooth and consistent and he was reliable when thrown to. Otton’s reliability carried over to his blocking, where he always brought a lot of effort.

Where he can improve: Due to health problems, depth chart problems and a short Pac-12 season in 2020, all the sample sizes with Otton are really small. He is impressive, but there is just not a ton of tape to work with. Also, he is just an okay athlete which caps his NFL upside.

NFL Comparison: Chris Herndon

Charlie Kolar, Iowa, 6’6”, 252 Pounds

What he does well: Kolar was extremely productive during his time at Iowa, putting up respectable numbers in a not-so-respectable passing offense. Kolar has tremendous size, long arms and big hands to make him a perfect target for any quarterback.

Where he can improve: Good, not great athlete that needs to improve his route-running and rely solely on size to get the ball thrown his way. As a blocker, Kolar can be dominant if he wants to, but needs to improve effort and technique to be a factor there.

NFL Comparison: Dalton Schultz

Jalen Wydermyer, 6’3”, 255 Pounds

What he does well: Jalen Wydermyer was productive through three years with the Aggies, consistently impressing with solid route running, nice ball skills and a willingness to make tough catches with defenders bearing down on him.

Where he can improve: Tight ends do not need to be the best athletes on the field, but Wydermyer’s poor testing is a massive red flag. Combine that with his lack of progression across three years starting, and there are more questions than answers with the Aggie tight end.

NFL Comparison: Jordan Akins