2022 NFL Combine Scouting Grade Preview: Tight ends (TE)

 

Ahead of the Combine, we’re doing a preview scouting of all the prospects we haven’t previewed at the Senior Bowl or East-West Shrine. We’ll grade the fresh Combine prospects and integrate them with our Senior Bowl and East-West prospects/grades into one ‘big board’, ranked with all the players invited to Indy for 2022.

After the Combine, we’ll start doing the actual numeric grades and doing the deeper dive reports on the top prospects and prospects of interest from all levels).

 

 

TE Charlie Kolar, Iowa State (Post-SB scouting grade: B)

*Pre-Senior Bowl scouting grade: B+/A-

Estimate = 6’5”/255

SB Measurements: 6’6.2”/256, 10.0” hands, 34.5” arms

Post-SB Note: Got totally overlooked all week. It’s tough for TEs to standout during the week but Kolar was taking a backseat to, what I think are, lesser talented TEs. Could be a flag…or could be typical out to lunch NFL assistant coaches. NFL coaches LOVE slower, stocky, plodding TEs…thus McBride and Likely were right up their alley.

Kolar killed the measurables/weight in – the tallest, thickest, longest armed, 2nd-largest hands TE in Mobile. If he can run in the 4.6s, low 4.7 worst case, he’ll be taken seriously at the NFL Combine.      

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Pre-SB Note: Liked him from the first time I laid eyes on him summer of 2021. Has size. Moves well. Good-to-great hands. Like a better movement skill version of Pat Freiermuth…a potential ‘next Kelce’ type TE. The NFL Combine measurables will tell the tale of ‘B’ or ‘A’.

NFL Comp? = Travis Kelce and Dallas Goedert come to mind, for me…but with risk the NFL looks past him for more their favored type – slower, blocky, blocker-first type.

 

 

TE Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina (Post-SB scouting grade: B-/C+)

*Pre-Senior Bowl scouting grade: C/C-

Estimate = 6’3”/240

SB Measurements: 6’4.0”/241, 10.0” hands, 32.3” arms

Post-SB Note: Came in much bigger than I expected. He was right to get a prospect boost post-measurables, and then he was one of the better-looking TEs during the week. He should be ranked ahead of McBride in the mainstream.

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Pre-SB Note: Previewed him in the summer of 2021 as well. Every time I watch him, he reminds me of Ian Thomas…and Thomas was a solid NFL prospect but got buried upon the arrival of Matt Rhule. Not saying Thomas is a stud, but he’s capable. Likely is built the same…they kinda look like fullbacks, shorter-ish TEs with thick/linebacker like bodies and they move well enough but not totally graceful or blazing. Likely is a solid prospect but not like a game changer TE prospect. His college output is sweet, but his tape is just ‘meh’.

NFL Comp? = Ian Thomas

 

 

TE/RB Connor Heyward, Michigan State (Post-SB scouting grade: B-/C+)

*Pre-Senior Bowl scouting grade: none

Estimate = none

SB Measurements: 5’11.0”/239, 9.7” hands, 31.6” arms

Post-SB Note: I didn’t seriously consider Heyward as an RB prospect during the previews, or as a TE (which he played in 2021). He looked like a fullback and that was that, I didn’t want to waste time scouting a fullback. However, he’s really nimble for a 239-pound man…he’s more than a future FB…potentially.

As a TE/H-back, he’s an interesting ‘move’ TE weapon…a bit short, but unique. 

However, I believe he’s more of a half-fullback/half-running back potential. A big body, nimble, and has the ‘Heyward’ family bloodline. ‘Baby Ironhead’ was his nickname in Mobile. Right now, he’s a big dude with a familiar name and that gets people somewhat excited.

Where I see value ahead – if they have him hit the weight room and cut 5-10 pounds and convert to muscle (he looks like he thinks he doesn’t need weight training…which is concerning…very undefined/flimsy arms). He’s a C/D as-is…but he might be a ‘B’ (at RB) with upside if he took his body seriously.

Maybe is an interesting, unique Deebo-like hybrid…an RB/TE hybrid?

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Pre-SB Note: none…considered him a fullback, so didn’t think he’d matter here.

NFL Comp? = Better, bigger James Conner as a runner/power back weapon. Could body-transform into more of a Rhamondre Stevenson or D’Onta Foreman versus being a sluggish Zack Moss or pigeonholed as a short yardage only guy.

 

 

TE Jalen Wydermyer, Texas A&M (Pre-Combine scouting grade: C+)

Measurable Estimate = 6’4”/250

Pre-Combine Notes = Among the handful of 2022 TEs that could claim to be the top TE prospect for the NFL Draft. He has the NFL-look for a TE…good size, good athleticism, good+ hands…not elite/great at anything but good across the board.

Of all the TEs in this class, Wydermyer is maybe the only one that looks like, moves arounds like, has the presence of a starting TE in the NFL. Had he been in the 2021 NFL Draft, he probably would have been the 3rd TE taken…3rd-round (for context).

NFL Comp? = David Njoku/Albert O. ?

  

TE Jelani Woods, Virginia (Pre-East/West Shrine Bowl scouting grade: C+)

Estimate = 6'6”/270

Former 3-star high school QB transitioned to TE after his freshman season at Oklahoma St. Transferred to Virginia for his senior season where he broke out with 44 catches for 598 yards and 8 TD's.

Massive frame. He's so much bigger than anyone covering/tackling him that it's hard to tell how good he might be. He plows over smaller defenders like they aren't even there. Moves well for his size but he's a massive human being and might be just a tick too slow to be a real high impact receiving threat. If he could drop 10-15 lbs while building some muscle he might pick up a little speed and we could have a real weapon on our hands.

As it stands, I don't think he's quite ready -- but he's got the size and ability to develop into an above average NFL TE.

NFL Comp? = Rico Gathers

 

 

TE Trey McBride, Colorado State (Post-SB scouting grade: C+)

*Pre-Senior Bowl scouting grade: B/B+

Estimate = 6’4”/260

SB Measurements: 6’3.1”/249, 10.0” hands, 32.4” arms

Post-SB Note: Came in lower end on his measurables. Was good-not-great all week. Todd McShay loves him, so every basic catch was communicated as the greatest thing ever. He’s the mainstream hype TE prospect, so that means: (a) he’s not as good as they portray, (b) he will get drafted highly and get 7,000 chances that other similar/more talented guys will not.

McBride is fine, but there are other as/more talented guys here.       

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Pre-SB Note: Classic-look NFL TE. Good worker…a prototypical TE…the kind of TE threat NFL coaches imagine when they think of TEs. He’s not a revolutionary species like a Kyle Pitts, he’s more of a T.J. Hockenson type…only better than (the highly overrated) Hockenson.

Good hands. OK enough movement skills. Very good, willing blocker. 86 catches for 1,017 yards working with a poor QB in 11 games in 2021…that’s something.

For Fantasy, he won’t light your world on fire when you see him…but he will the NFL, so he will have Hockenson-Freiermuth-like love among the NFL establishment.

NFL Comp? = A better T.J. Hockenson.

 

 

TE Daniel Bellinger, San Diego State (Post-SB scouting grade: C+)

*Pre-Senior Bowl scouting grade: C/C-

Estimate = 6’5”/250

SB Measurements: 6’4.2”/252, 10.0” hands, 32.5” arms

Post-SB Note: One of the darlings of the coaches this week…and the QBs. He really helped his draft stock this week. Good blocker, and a surprisingly good receiver. His Combine numbers could push him to a ‘B’ level grade.   

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Pre-SB Note: A sleeper TE here, but also one that could get overlooked at Senior Bowl week. It’s a big week for him to try and get noticed, but TEs usually do not stand out at the Senior Bowl unless they are super tall or super-fast.

Bellinger is a gritty blocker, thick prototype NFL TE prospect. But he didn’t get to show as much working on a bad offense/with a bad QB. He’s more athletic than you might think at first, and he showed really soft/nice hands in the little tape I watched. I think I’ll find out more about him when I see him competing versus the other TEs at the Senior Bowl.

NFL Comp? = Tyler Kroft? Maybe better than that? Dawson Knox-ish with better hands?

 

TE Cade Otton, Washington (Pre-Combine scouting grade: C+)

Measurable Estimate = 6’4”/250

Pre-Combine Notes = What the NFL sees when they think ‘tight end’. 6’4”/250, moderate speed, willing blocker, good hands. He has ‘the look’ of an NFL TE. He wears #87, so he looks like…and moves like a younger, thinner (less talented) Travis Kelce at a glance.

Watched him against Michigan 2021…fought Hutchinson and Ojabo well as a blocker, which will earn him a day two/3rd-round draft selection I suspect.

NFL Comp? = Dalton Schultz-ish? Some Hunter Henry?

 

TE Jake Ferguson, Wisconsin (Post-SB scouting grade: C)

*Pre-Senior Bowl scouting grade: C-

Estimate = 6’4”/240

SB Measurements: 6’4.3”/244, 9.4” hands, 32.3” arms

Post-SB Note: Every time I’d catch TE drills, there was Ferguson making plays…especially in the 11-on-11s. He never ‘wowed’ me other than I kept seeing him getting targets and looks and had the ball in his hands probably more than any TE here this week. He’s a very capable TE…but not a star.      

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Pre-SB Note: Better blocker than receiving threat TE. Not a bad receiver, just not that speedy or dangerous a weapon. Has good hands. Capable NFL TE Prospect, but nothing special.

NFL Comp? = Blake Jarwin, Foster Moreau.

 

 

TE Greg Dulcich, UCLA (Post-SB scouting grade: C-)

*Pre-Senior Bowl scouting grade: D+

Estimate = 6’3”/245

SB Measurements: 6’3.6”/248, 9.8” hands, 33.8” arms

Post-SB Note: Was one of the better TEs of the week. He impressed me with how aggressive and urgent and confident he played. A lot of talented players disappear Senior Bowl week, for a variety of reasons…then some are just always in the action it seems. Dulcich is one of them. He started drawing, apt, Tyler Higbee comps…mostly for their similar long hair. He raised his prospect pulse this week…as a lesser-Higbee.    

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Pre-SB Note: Reliable hands. OK size. Frame needs bulk. Not too swift afoot. Could make an NFL roster, but not a future star/starter.

NFL Comp? = A version of Tyler Higbee.

 

 

TE Cole Turner, Nevada (Post-SB scouting grade: C-/D+)

*Pre-Senior Bowl scouting grade: C-/D+

Estimate = 6’5”/240

SB Measurements: 6’6.1”/238, 10.3” hands, 34.5” arms

Post-SB Note: Had a good week, but I’m not super-impressed. First, he won the measurables weigh-in among TEs…an 85.3” wingspan is something to behold. At 6’6”/238, he has a huge catch radius. He stood out, literally and figuratively, but got a boost from being teamed with his QB Carson Strong. Strong went to Turner often in 11-on-11s, and it helped boost Turner’s presence. Outside of that…he’s tall, not super-fluid athletic (to me, so far). I’m willing to wait to see the NFL Combine speed/agility before pushing him to a ‘D” grade, as I almost went with D= for the post-grade.     

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Pre-SB Note: Tricky to grade him…he’s like a WR playing TE. He’s thinner-framed for the NFL’s liking as a TE, but he’s tall and rangy with really good hands as a receiving weapon at TE. He’s not the look the NFL wants at TE because he’ll be eaten alive as a blocker until he bulks up his frame – but for teams looking for a pass game TE weapon, he’s an option.

He’s a bit stiff in his movement…he’s athletic for the MWC but he may be slow for the NFL. I want to see his NFL Combine.

NFL Comp? = Caleb Wilson…remember him out of UCLA? He never made it far in the NFL but jumps onto teams for opportunity every year.

 

 

TE Jeremy Ruckert, Ohio State (Post-SB scouting grade: D+)

*Pre-Senior Bowl scouting grade: C-/D+

Estimate = 6’5”/250

SB Measurements: 6’5.0/250, 10.2” hands, 32.7” arms

Post-SB Note: There are so many solid TE prospects in Mobile, Ruckert just stood out as ‘not as good as the solid’. The mainstream loves him, ‘Ohio State’ and all, but in reality he’s just slower and less talented than all the guys I have rated above him here. But Ruckert will likely get drafted ahead of many of them because he’s a prototype NFL TE – big, slow, willing blocker, from a power school.   

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Pre-SB Note: He’s got the look of a classic NFL TE…big, bulky, slow runner, decent hands, willing blocker. The Ohio State pedigree won’t hurt him in the draft either. He’s competent but not game changing.

NFL Comp? = Drew Sample, Nick Vannett.

 

 

TE James Mitchell, Virginia Tech (Pre-Combine scouting grade: D+)

Measurable Estimate = 6’2”/245

Pre-Combine Notes = Knee injury ended season two games into 2021. A ‘move’ TE prospect. Is a decent player but not the size for a full TE starting in the NFL, at least not right away.

NFL Comp? = A version of Gerald Everett.

 

 

TE Austin Allen, Nebraska (Pre-Combine scouting grade: D+)

Measurable Estimate = 6’6”/250

Pre-Combine Notes = Looks like an oversized WR playing TE. Frame is more WR than TE. The upside is if he adds 10+ pounds of muscle to have more of a TE body. He’s not very fast in his tall/thinner iteration, so more bulk could weigh what little speed he has down even lower.

NFL Comp? = Thinner Codey McElroy

 

 

TE Chigoziem Okonkwo, Maryland (Pre-East/West Shrine Bowl scouting grade: D+)

Estimate = 6'2” 235

Pretty good athlete, nice hands, aggressive blocker...but far too small to play TE in the NFL. He's an H-back/special teams guy only. Maybe someday the NFL will start using these tweener athletes in interesting ways.

NFL Comp? = MyCole Pruitt

 

 

TE Chase Allen, Iowa State (Pre-Combine scouting grade: D/D+)

Measurable Estimate = 6’6”/245

Pre-Combine Notes = Another guy who looks like a bigger, slower WR turned TE. He was overshadowed by the better TE prospect, Charlie Kolar, during his time at ISU. A thin frame…not a TE body the NFL will love to chase. He needs weight room work.

NFL Comp? = Slower, smaller Tyler Higbee.

 

 

TE Jeremiah Hall, Oklahoma (Pre-Combine scouting grade: D)

Measurable Estimate = 6’1”/240

Pre-Combine Notes = More FB than TE. Looks like an OK FB/H-back, and he played FB his first two years then more TE the last two years. I don’t see anything that special here to discuss.

NFL Comp? = Less-TE-like Kylen Granson

 

 

TE Curtis Hodges, Arizona State (Pre-Combine scouting grade: D)

Measurable Estimate = 6’5”/240

Pre-Combine Notes = A big WR moved to TE his final two years. Has battled injury his entire career. Has some wiry-strong, sleek look to him but didn’t do much in his college career. Worth a UDFA look to see if there’s more here than his college career showed.

NFL Comp? = More raw Eric Saubert.

 

 

TE Peyton Hendershot, Indiana (Pre-Combine scouting grade: D-)

Measurable Estimate = 6’3”/250

Pre-Combine Notes = Generic college TE. Not that big…not that athletic. Good for college, but not a serious threat as an NFL prospect.  

NFL Comp? = Worse Noah Gray.

 

 

TE Grant Calcaterra, SMU (Post-SB scouting grade: D-)

*Pre-Senior Bowl scouting grade: D-

Estimate = 6’4”/245

SB Measurements: 6’3.2”/243, 10.0” hands, 33.0” arms

Post-SB Note: One of the TEs this week that just kinda disappeared from sight for me. Hardly any notes. I remember seeing his name/jersey, because the name his unique/attention-getting…but his play wasn’t.

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Pre-SB Note: Had ‘retired’ from college football/Oklahoma due to multiple concussions (DNP 2020). He returned to CFB with SMU in 2021. He’s a slower, stiff, still a little hesitant TE. Not for me, and likely not for the NFL due to the concussions.

NFL Comp? = Ross Dwelley, Garrett Griffin.

 

 

TE Teagan Quitoriano, Oregon State (Pre-Combine scouting grade: F)

Measurable Estimate = 6’5”/250

Pre-Combine Notes = The tape I watched: terrible blocker, and a nothing in the passing game.

NFL Comp? = Someone who needs to pursue a career outside professional football.