What an entertaining NFL Draft!
Although only one quarterback was taken in the first round, this, in many ways, made the 2022 NFL Draft quite unique- there was much more lack of clarity at the top, especially with both New York teams having multiple picks in the first round. If your goal from this draft was to have the most accurate mock draft possible, well, you’re probably disappointed. If your goal was to be entertained, well then you’re in luck!
From a real-life standpoint, the NFL Draft is a special time for players to achieve their dreams, while teams look to add hopeful franchise contributors to their roster. Yet, there’s another crowd that needs to be addressed. Yes, I’m looking at you, fantasy football managers.
With this draft being dominated by trench players, it wasn’t the most electric draft a fantasy perspective, especially after the doozy we witnessed last year. That being said, there is still plenty of talented players to be excited about, particularly at the wide receiver position. Most importantly, in a year with so much uncertainty, we finally got an insight to how teams value players, which is critical when it comes to projecting their future opportunity.
This is what generally makes landing spots a notable part of the analysis. After all, in order to produce, you have to actually be on the field, which makes draft capital so significant. To some extent, landing with the right team, particularly for running backs, can serve as a nice tier break, but with the immense amount of uncertainty with regards to these prospects, leaning into your evaluation of them, and adjusting significantly based on draft capital, can increase your chances of adding contributors to your dynasty roster significantly. For instance, if two players have equal talent level, but one is drafted in the third round and one is drafted in the seventh round, it would be wise to side with the former, even if the latter lands on the “better team”.
After previously going over my pre-draft rookie rankings, today, we will be updating these rankings following the draft. To assist in this, I will be utilizing two projection models that I created – a simplistic multi-variable regression model and a more complex, weighted model – that have proven to be notably predictive of future fantasy success. That being said, the margin of error when it comes to projecting college prospects to the NFL is quite significant, so not being able to adjust the model projections based on other information available would be a faulty process.
Now, folks, it’s time to get to the rankings and projections for dynasty leagues. Which rookies should be on your radar in your rookie draft? Who moved up or down the most following the draft? Let us dive right into it!
Stats via Pro Football Focus
2022 Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings
A full breakdown of the top players in this class from a pure talent perspective can be found here.
|Rnk||Player||NFL Team||Rnk (SuperFlex)||Rnk (1QB)||Proj. PPG||Model #1||Model #2|
|1||Kenny Pickett||PIT (Round 1)||1||4||11.19||10.29||12.09|
|2||Malik Willis||TEN (Round 3)||2||1||18.46||18.55||18.37|
|3||Matt Corral||CAR (Round 3)||3||2||14.83||13.98||15.67|
|4||Desmond Ridder||ATL (Round 3)||4||3||14.46||13.98||14.93|
|5||Sam Howell||WSH (Round 5)||5||5||13.63||12.89||14.37|
|6||Bailey Zappe||NE (Round 4)||6||6||8.76||7.95||9.57|
|7||Carson Strong||PHI (UDFA)||7||7||2.36||0.58||4.13|
|8||Kaleb Eleby||SEA (UDFA)||8||8||5.79||4.43||7.15|
You can get quite far with projecting quarterbacks by simply looking at their rushing production and draft capital. Meanwhile, players with higher average depth of targets (aDOT) and big-time throw rates BTT%) also tend to perform better fantasy-wise, as those players tend to have a higher ceiling due to their play style. Their college efficiency matters slightly, but in fantasy land, we’ll always be looking for opportunity and rushing ability. If you’re in a Superflex league, this is the position you generally go into rookie drafts wanting to target.
- This quarterback class should be ranked vastly different whether you’re in a Superflex league or standard 1QB league. Honestly, with only one quarterback (Kenny Pickett) being drafted in the first round, this position should be avoided almost altogether in 1QB leagues, but in the right situation, taking a shot on one of the mid-round quarterbacks with rushing upside would be the right target.
- Speaking of Pickett, what fantasy ceiling does he have? That’s the major question in the first round of Superflex leagues. To be fair, Pickett likely gets mischaracterized as a pure pocket passer, as he did have 440 rushing yards (not including sacks) and 78 rush attempts in 14 games this season. That being said, with him not being a dynamic rushing talent, there is a lot of pressure on his efficiency as a passer, which is a mixed bag. On one end, he earned a 92.1 PFF passing grade this past season. On the other hand, he was a fifth-year senior with a career-high passing grade of just 75.8 previously, and he barely had more big-time throws (3.6%) than turnover-worthy plays (3.3%) plays for his career. After last year’s strong quarterback class and another one incoming, he certainly wouldn’t profile as a must-target; the floor isn’t what you’d imagine, based on the limited track record and the very mixed reviews about him as a prospect.
- Had Malik Willis gotten first-round draft capital, he would have been in strong consideration for the #1 pick in Superflex drafts and a must-start from the second he stepped onto the field; he’s rushed for over 1000 yards in back-to-back seasons, which is better rushing production than Jalen Hurts. Unfortunately, the legitimate concerns about him as a passer – he was a fifth-year senior at Liberty with just a career-high 77.4 PFF passing grade, poor accuracy numbers, and troubles when it comes to taking sacks (30.5% pressure-to-sack rate) – caused him to slip to the third round, where the Titans moved up a few spots to draft him. While there is a path to him eventually getting a chance to replace Ryan Tannehill, that likely wouldn’t happen for two years based on the veteran’s contract. Plus, the amount of third-round picks that become starting quarterbacks is very slim, especially at a time when quarterback play is at an all-time high. There’s legitimate fantasy upside if he finds his way onto the field, but, sadly, the most likely outcome is that he never gets the opportunity to demonstrate that upside.
- On the other hand, Matt Corral, whose only competition this season is Sam Darnold, could legitimately win the starting quarterback job out of the gate for a Panthers team that traded into the third round to draft him, and supposedly would have taken him much higher than that. Not only did Corral post a PFF passing grade of 82.1 or higher in back-to-back seasons, but he also demonstrated plenty of accuracy (76.2% adjusted completion rate), and is by far the best quarterback in this class in terms of avoiding sacks. Plus, with 129 rush attempts in 14 games last year, there is at least some resemblance of rushing upside from him. He’s a bit polarizing but may be the most balanced prospect in terms of passing abilities and rushing upside in this class.
- With a 4.52 40-yard dash, Desmond Ridder certainly has the athleticism to profile as a rushing threat moving forward. Then again, he had less rushing production that Corral, and only had one season of “high-end production” with an 87.1 PFF passing grade last year as a senior. Also a third-round pick, but with notable accuracy (72% adjusted completion rate) concerns as well, there are reasons to take him towards the end of the second round in Supeflex leagues, but, in my eyes, that would be the earliest to take a quarterback with the odds against him.
- With three years of college production (9.1 yards/pass attempt, 7.2% big-time-throw rate, 2.7% turnover-worthy-play rate), and a lot of rushing production last season, a case could made for him being the best quarterback in this draft. That being said, Tom Brady, Dak Prescott, and Kirk Cousins aside, the chances of him ever starting as a fifth-round pick are highly unlikely. It’s the unfortunate truth, despite his potential underlying talent level.
|Rnk||Player||Team||Proj. PPG||Model 1||Model 2|
|1||Breece Hall||NYJ (Round 2)||13.49||13.59||13.38|
|2||Kenneth Walker||SEA (Round 2)||11.28||12.48||10.08|
|3||Rachaad White||TB (Round 3)||15.06||12.18||17.94|
|4||Tyler Allgeier||ATL (Round 5)||12.40||11.18||13.61|
|5||Isaiah Spiller||LAC (Round 4)||10.02||10.00||10.04|
|6||James Cook||BUF (Round 2)||8.65||8.92||8.38|
|7||Brian Robinson||WSH (Round 3)||7.84||8.25||7.43|
|8||Dameon Pierce||HOU (Round 4)||6.46||6.55||6.37|
|9||Zamir White||LV (Round 4)||6.33||6.52||6.13|
|10||Kevin Harris||NE (Round 6)||9.17||8.52||9.82|
|11||Pierre Strong||NE (Round 4)||8.17||8.17||N/A|
|12||Kyren Williams||LAR (Round 5)||9.17||9.19||9.15|
|13||Keaontay Ingram||ARI (Round 6)||7.80||7.23||8.37|
|14||Hassan Haskins||TEN (Round 4)||6.84||5.66||8.02|
|15||Ty Davis-Price||SF (Round 3)||4.28||5.24||3.32|
|16||Jerrion Ealy||KC (UDFA)||9.71||8.65||10.77|
|17||Quan White||MIA (UDFA)||7.18||4.70||9.65|
|18||Kennedy Brooks||PHI (UDFA)||7.32||6.60||8.05|
|19||Tyler Goodson||GB (UDFA)||7.17||6.48||7.86|
|20||Trestan Ebner||CHI (Round 6)||7.54||7.60||7.48|
|21||Tyler Badie||BAL (Round 5)||6.26||6.91||5.61|
|22||Jerome Ford||CLE (Round 5)||6.70||7.51||5.90|
|23||Abram Smith||NO (UDFA)||6.11||4.34||7.88|
|24||Ty Chandler||MIN (Round 5)||5.44||5.51||5.38|
|25||Snoop Conner||JAX (Round 5)||4.12||4.18||4.06|
|26||Max Borghi||IND (UDFA)||7.53||5.44||9.62|
|27||Zonovan Knight||NYJ (UDFA)||6.55||6.17||6.93|
|28||Jashaun Corbin||NYG (UDFA)||5.99||6.35||5.64|
|29||Ronnie Rivers||ARI (UDFA)||6.96||6.63||7.29|
|30||Sincere McCormick||LV (UDFA)||6.37||6.14||6.59|
|31||Isiah Pacheco||KC (Round 7)||3.36||3.26||3.46|
|32||D'Vonte Price||IND (UDFA)||2.98||3.97||2.00|
|33||Jaylen Warren||PIT (UDFA)||3.49||3.41||3.57|
|34||Leddie Brown||LAC (UDFA)||3.55||3.61||3.49|
|35||CJ Verdell||IND (UDFA)||3.93||3.69||4.16|
|36||Greg Bell||DET (UDFA)||0.34||1.06||-0.38|
As is the case with any position, draft capital is key when projecting running backs. First-round running backs have a significantly higher hit rate than the rest of the pack, and the returns immediately start to dwindle after round two. Why? Well, running back production for fantasy is significantly tied to volume as opposed to skill, and higher-drafted players naturally get more chances. Furthermore, PFF rushing and receiving grades, yards/route run, missed tackles forced/attempt, and explosive rushes/attempt are other key efficiency indicators. Lastly, the overall yardage share they had, as well as their best season yardage share, is also correlated to future fantasy success.
- Although he didn’t get first-round draft capital, there is still plenty of reason to be happy with the landing spot for Breece Hall, who was drafted by the Jets with the 39th overall pick in the draft. With below-average marks in explosive play rate (14.2%), yards after contact/attempt (3.22), and yards/route run (0.98), he isn’t quite a “tier-one” running back like Christian McCaffrey, Jonathan Taylor, and Saquon Barkley as prospects, though he’s still the optimal #1 pick in rookie drafts.
- On the other hand, for what it’s worth, Kenneth Walker landing with a Seahawks offense going into the season with Drew Lock and Geno Smith as the quarterback options, with a coaching staff that has been known to not let draft capital influence their personnel decisions, probably isn’t ideal; if you’re drafting a running back at the top of a rookie draft, you’re hoping to get immediate production. Add in a lot of concerns about his receiving profile (.44 yards/route run, 5.8% target share), and there are a lot of red flags for a player who could be as taken as #2 in rookie drafts.
- In the pre-draft rookie rankings, Rachaad White and Tyler Allgeier both were highlighted as sleepers based on their underlying all-around production in college, and they ultimately ended up in strong landing spots, albeit for different reasons. White, who had a 90+ PFF rushing AND receiving grade last year, surprisingly received third-round draft capital. Sure, his immediate path to playing time in Tampa Bay is slim, but his chances of receiving the opportunity to demonstrate his true talent level go up tremendously with this draft capital. Allgeier, meanwhile, fell to the fifth round of the draft, but has the chance to quickly outplay his draft capital in an open Falcons backfield. With multiple seasons with a PFF rushing grade over 90 and surprisingly strong explosive rushing numbers at 224 pounds, he is, in my opinion, one of the top values in all of rookie drafts.
- Sticking with optimal landing spots, James Cook may rise into the first round of rookie drafts after being drafted by the Bills at the end of the second round. While his receiving acumen (career 1.95 yards/route run) cannot be questioned, there are legitimate questions about the chances an NFL team views as more than a pure receiving back, especially after he was referred to as a “scat back” by general manager Brandon Beane. JD McKissic would seem like the most likely production comparison, which gives a fine floor, but perhaps not the fantasy ceiling to be chasing in rookie drafts.
- Isaiah Spiller, Dameon Pierce, and Zamir White all found themselves drafted in the fourth round, and have very different profiles coming out of the SEC. Spiller is a three-year starter who is the youngest running back in this class with elite handcuff potential behind Austin Ekeler in Los Angeles. Pierce and White, meanwhile, are players that I believe my model may be overlooking due to volume concerns. With a 93.5 PFF rushing grade, Pierce’s efficiency was off the charts, and at 224 pounds, there is no reason he can’t handle a bigger workload than Florida gave him; that being said, he’s a risky value at the top of the second round in rookie drafts, which is where he’ll likely be after landing with an open Texans backfield. White, meanwhile, dealt with injuries and a lot of competition at Georgia, so is quite unproven as a receiver. As an explosive player (95th percentile speed score) with size in his favor, he’s tough to bet against, even though he’s still a relative unknown.
- Keaontay Ingram may be a sixth-round pick, though the fact that he could be the immediate backup to James Conner in Arizona is intriguing, and, most importantly, he rates out as an interesting prospect. The 22-year-old was a starter as a freshman, had a 91.6 PFF rushing grade this past season, and rates out quite well in terms of explosiveness (17.2% explosive play rate). In the fourth round in your rookie draft, there aren’t many better gambles to make.
- The player who likely sees their stock rise the most from the draft is Tyrion Davis-Price, who went from someone seen as not a lock to be drafted to being selected in the third round by the 49ers. That being said, this is also a player who rates poorly in terms of explosive play rate (11.6%), missed tackle forced rate (17.7%), yards after contact/attempt (2.82), and as a receiver (0.48 yards/route run). The draft capital certainly cannot be ignored at a position where volume is king, though there are plenty of concerns to have with him as a prospect.
- My favorite undrafted sleepers should they make a roster? Jerrion Ealy, Quan White, Kennedy Brooks, and Tyler Goodson, all of whom rate favorably in terms of underlying production in college. The odds are stacked against them, but here’s hoping they can get a chance to shine!
|Rnk||Player||Team||Proj. PPG||Model 1||Model 2|
|1||Treylon Burks||TEN (Round 1)||12.46||13.31||11.62|
|2||Garrett Wilson||NYJ (Round 1)||10.97||11.45||10.49|
|3||Drake London||ATL (Round 1)||10.90||11.39||10.40|
|4||Jameson Williams||DET (Round 1)||11.32||11.86||10.77|
|5||Chris Olave||NO (Round 1)||10.85||11.44||10.27|
|6||Skyy Moore||KC (Round 2)||9.89||10.47||9.30|
|7||George Pickens||PIT (Round 2)||9.73||10.01||9.45|
|8||Christian Watson||GB (Round 2)||9.88||10.16||9.61|
|9||Jahan Dotson||WSH (Round 1)||9.91||10.41||9.41|
|10||John Metchie||HOU (Round 2)||9.66||9.99||9.34|
|11||Alec Pierce||IND (Round 2)||9.74||10.02||9.46|
|12||Wan'Dale Robinson||NYG (Round 2)||9.49||10.16||8.83|
|13||David Bell||CLE (Round 3)||8.55||9.13||7.96|
|14||Tyquan Thornton||NE (Round 2)||9.79||9.97||9.61|
|15||Khalil Shakir||BUF (Round 5)||7.85||8.65||7.05|
|16||Jalen Tolbert||DAL (Round 3)||8.78||9.52||8.04|
|17||Danny Gray||SF (Round 3)||9.32||9.78||8.86|
|18||Velus Jones Jr.||CHI (Round 3)||9.16||9.69||8.64|
|19||Justyn Ross||KC (UDFA)||5.66||6.78||4.54|
|20||Romeo Doubs||GB (Round 4)||7.69||8.32||7.07|
|21||Calvin Austin II||PIT (Round 4)||7.86||8.45||7.28|
|22||Erik Ezukanma||MIA (Round 4)||7.88||8.53||7.22|
|23||Kyle Philips||TEN (Round 5)||5.88||6.49||5.28|
|24||Kevin Austin Jr.||JAX (UDFA)||6.59||7.29||5.88|
|25||Jalen Nailor||MIN (Round 6)||6.54||7.25||5.83|
|26||Bo Melton||SEA (Round 7)||5.99||6.48||5.49|
|27||Isaiah Weston||NYG (UDFA)||6.47||6.88||6.05|
|28||Braylon Sanders||MIA (UDFA)||5.72||6.36||5.07|
|29||Reggie Roberson Jr.||TEN (UDFA)||4.66||5.71||3.61|
|30||Tre' Turner||LV (UDFA)||5.76||6.66||4.86|
|31||Devon Williams||BAL (UDFA)||5.48||6.36||4.60|
|32||Dontario Drummond||DAL (UDFA)||5.13||6.12||4.15|
|33||Mike Woods||CLE (Round 6)||5.04||5.59||4.48|
|34||Ty Fryfogle||DAL (UDFA)||5.00||5.72||4.28|
|35||Charleston Rambo||CAR (UDFA)||4.45||5.46||3.44|
|36||Jaivon Heiligh||CIN (UDFA)||4.40||5.45||3.35|
|37||Dai'Jean Dixon||NO (UDFA)||4.25||4.73||3.77|
|38||Makai Polk||BAL (UDFA)||4.16||4.57||3.74|
|39||Johnny Johnson III||HOU (UDFA)||4.30||5.05||3.54|
|40||Slade Bolden||BAL (UDFA)||3.11||3.68||2.54|
|41||Josh Johnson||DET (UDFA)||2.57||3.46||1.68|
Projecting wide receivers, in my opinion, is the most difficult of the four positions- there is a lot of refinement and skill to the position that is difficult to capture. Draft capital is by far the best predictor of future success, with the hit rate of day-three receivers being close to zero. From there, you’re just looking for a balanced profile between athleticism and production, both from an efficiency standpoint and a dominance standpoint (yards per team pass attempt). In a draft where the prop for first-round receivers is at 6.5, it will be very interesting to see how it all shapes up.
- Treylon Burks remains the #1 wide receiver in this draft, especially after landing with a Titans team that can attempt to utilize him in a similar way to AJ Brown, allowing him to work in space in the short middle of the field. Here’s why you should bet on his talent:“As draft season has gone on, the trepidation around Treylon Burks has strengthened. Yet, I cannot move him off of my #1 wide receiver ranking. From a production standpoint, he was elite after the catch, was able to work down the field, and had back-to-back seasons with PFF grades of 88.9 and 90.8, respectively. Meanwhile, he has size (6’2″, 225 pounds) on his side, and while his 4.55 40-yard dash was disappointing, it still gives him an above-average speed score for his size. To top it off, in the SEC, he managed a 3.51 yards per team pass attempt, which is more than elite, and was ultra-productive as both a sophomore and a junior. I get the concerns about his overall refinement as a player, but I cannot ignore how dominant of a production profile this is. In a draft where the top is nowhere near as strong as it was last season, I’ll take my chances with the player with multiple seasons of dominant performance.”
- The landing spot with the Jets, where he lands with a questionable offense with a very talented young receiver in Elijah Moore, isn’t ideal for Garrett Wilson. Nevertheless, in dynasty, you want to bet on talent at the receiver position, leading to him still being the #2 wide receiver in these rankings. The fact that he not only averaged over three yards/route run the past two years, but also had a similar or better high-end season (3.21 yards per team pass attempt) as a sophomore is incredibly impressive, and the bust risk here is very marginal. Bank on the talent, and assume the situation ultimately gets better.
- That being said, the gap between him and Drake London is very minimal. Prior to breaking his ankle, the USC product was having a special year as a junior, averaging 3.25 yards/team pass attempt, 3.52 yards/route run, and earning a 91.8 PFF receiving grade. He isn’t a very explosive player, though someone who could certainly become a PPR monster working in the intermediate areas of the field.
- It’s unclear when Jameson Williams will be cleared to play coming off of tearing his ACL in the National Championship Game, but he could easily end up as the #1 receiver in this class. With 20 yards/reception, 3.12 yards/route run, and 9.3 yards after catch/reception, he’s a truly dynamic player, even if there’s a chance he ends up as a better real-life option than fantasy option. If your dynasty league only rewards half a point per reception or is in a best ball format, I’d consider him the #2 receiver in this class.
- Williams was drafted one pick after Chris Olave, whom the Saints traded up for. The hit rate of senior receivers isn’t great, though Olave did produce quite well as an under-classman, and profiles as a vertical threat at the next level. Without much production after the catch, he likely profiles as a high-floor #2 option in a passing game as opposed to the #1 option these first-four receivers could be, but he still rates out very well.
- Could there have been a better landing spot for any player than Skyy Moore ending up with the Chiefs in the second round? Although it came at a non power-five school, Moore’s 3.51 yards/team pass attempt are in line with what Treylon Burks had this season, he’s an early declare, and there aren’t any sort of discernible flaws to be concerned about outside of the strength of competition. The landing spot does limit the expected surplus value associated with picking him, though he still profiles well as a mid-first-round pick.
- Speaking of elite landing spots, Christian Watson finds himself in Green Bay catching passes from Aaron Rodgers for a team that traded up to the #34 overall pick to select him; he’s essentially a first-round pick. With a 4.36 40-yard dash at 6’4″, 209 pounds, he’s a true athletic marvel, though also is a 23-year-old receiver who didn’t produce early at North Dakota State. Most likely, we’re looking at a similar outcome to former Packers receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, with his value much higher in best-ball formats and half PPR leagues; he’s going to command a lot of air yards and be an explosive player, though perhaps not someone who is going to command enough targets to have a high enough floor in managed PPR leagues.
- Finding himself behind three second-round picks would be 16th overall pick Jahan Dotson, who was actually drafted higher than Treylon Burks. As a 181-pound receiver with just a 42nd percentile speed score who also is a senior declare with early production, the amount of red flags with his profile is immense. The first-round draft capital certainly cannot be ignored, but there isn’t as much of a gap between first-round receivers and second-round receivers as you would assume, and there are a lot of concerns present for a player who may not present much of a ceiling outcome regardless.
- Draft capital was better than expected for John Metchie, Alec Pierce, and Wan’Dale Robinson, while David Bell avoided falling into the third day of the draft due to concerns about his athleticism. Between Pierce’s profile as a vertical threat, Metchie potentially being overly discounted for playing at an Alabama program with a lot of target completion, and the production profiles of Robinson and Bell, there are pathways to success for each player, especially after the draft went in their favor.
- Two interesting receivers with better draft positions than expected would be Tyquan Thornton (50th overall, Patriots) and Danny Gray (105th overall, 49ers). Thornton is a complete unknown considering he didn’t produce until his senior year in college, but he did run a 4.28 40-yard dash (93rd percentile speed score), and at least has a role as a vertical threat, while the draft capital + speed combination will naturally give him more opportunities to prove himself. Gray, meanwhile, averaged nine yards after the catch per reception over the past two seasons after transferring to SMU, is a tremendous athlete (4.33 40-yard dash), and there is no better offense for those skills to be used than Kyle Shanahan’s in San Francisco. Keep an eye on him in the fourth round of rookie drafts.
- The same can be said for Khalil Shakir, whose production profile cannot be ignored despite falling to the fifth round. After all, over the past three seasons, he has earned PFF receiving grades of 88.2, 88.8, and 89.3, respectively, is a versatile chess piece who can rates out well after the catch and tested out well as an athlete. Considering the Bills’ two-slot receiver options are making a combined $4 million this year, hopefully, he can work his way up the food chain with a strong preseason, and he’s a player worth betting on later in rookie drafts.
|Rnk||Player||Team||Proj. PPG||Model 1||Model 2|
|1||Trey McBride||ARI (Round 2)||6.84||7.71||5.98|
|2||Greg Dulcich||DEN (Round 3)||6.61||6.62||6.60|
|3||Charlie Kolar||BAL (Round 4)||6.59||6.75||6.43|
|4||Jelani Woods||IND (Round 3)||5.57||5.28||5.86|
|5||Chig Okonkwo||TEN (Round 4)||5.23||5.32||5.13|
|6||James Mitchell||DET (Round 5)||5.39||5.68||5.11|
|7||Isaiah Likely||BAL (Round 4)||4.64||5.61||3.68|
|8||Daniel Bellinger||NYG (Round 4)||4.54||5.22||3.85|
|9||Jeremy Ruckert||NYJ (Round 3)||4.10||4.20||4.00|
|10||Jake Ferguson||DAL (Round 4)||3.92||3.27||4.57|
|11||Cade Otton||TB (Round 4)||3.63||3.70||3.57|
|12||Grant Calcaterra||PHI (Round 6)||4.01||4.47||3.56|
|13||Cole Turner||WSH (Round 5)||3.41||3.79||3.03|
|14||Austin Allen||NYG (UDFA)||3.13||2.63||3.64|
|15||Peyton Hendershot||DAL (UDFA)||2.40||2.25||2.54|
|16||Jalen Wydermyer||BUF (UDFA)||2.12||2.43||1.82|
|17||Curtis Hodges||WSH (UDFA)||1.95||1.88||2.01|
|18||Connor Heyward||PIT (Round 6)||1.89||1.77||2.00|
|19||Teagan Quitoriano||HOU (Round 5)||1.96||1.88||2.05|
|20||Jeremiah Hall||NYG (UDFA)||1.22||1.20||1.24|
As opposed to wide receiver, tight end is much easier to project, though that’s not necessarily a positive; this isn’t a position with a lot of upside attached to it. Balancing out production (mainly yards/route run) with athleticism is the simplest way to project tight ends, and this is the position where draft capital matters the least. Considering the first-round disappointments we’ve seen compared to some later-round “booms,” it is easy to see why that would be the case.
- Coming off of a year where he won the John Mackey award after earning a 95 PFF receiving grade and then following that up with above-average athletic testing, Trey McBride appeared to be the one player in this class who would definitely emerge as a starting tight end. It makes sense why the Cardinals would want to select him in the second round, even though Zach Ertz essentially cannot be cut on his new contract for two seasons; tight ends take multiple years to develop, so they’re hoping to ease him into a large role. With that in mind, I wouldn’t let the landing spot sway you from your original evaluation of him as a prospect, although this was certainly not ideal.
- Greg Dulcich, meanwhile, profiles as a big-play threat (17.6) who will stretch the field vertically and can make plays after the catch (6.6 yards after catch/reception). He’ll immediately look to compete with Albert Okwuegbunam for playing time and certainly could develop into a starting tight end in the future.
- The darling of this tight end class is certainly Jelani Woods, who the Colts made the second tight end off the board with the 73rd overall pick. At 6’7″, 252 pounds with a 94th percentile speed score, it is easy to see why, and he did perform well (82.8 PFF receiving grade) as a senior. That being said, with practically zero production before that, it’s more likely he settles in as part of a tight end committee, which will be his likely immediate role in Indianapolis.
- Juxtapose Woods with new Ravens tight end Charlie Kolar, who has three straight seasons with a PFF receiving grade of 85.5 or higher, eclipsing two yards/route run in those years as well. Especially since he has the exact same measurements as Woods and tested similarly, it is strange that he has been lost in the shuffle, though he is certainly only going to be thrust into a backup role at best in Baltimore behind Mark Andrews
- Two sleepers to keep an eye on? Titans fourth-round pick Chig Oknownko, who tested tremendously (92nd percentile speed score) as a Jonnu Smith-lite move tight end, and Lions fifth-round pick James Mitchell, who averaged an absurd 10.5 yards after catch/reception in college with 2.01 yards/route run. Between Oknownko’s athleticism and Mitchell’s underlying production, there are certainly reasons to see either as a flyer should your rookie draft go beyond four rounds.