Last years’ draft class featured unstoppable talent at the tight end position that was headlined by the now-Atlanta Falcon Kyle Pitts. This year, there isn’t a physical specimen quite like Pitts, but there is a more unique variety of skillsets. Hands and contested-catch ability are currently the mainstays of this upcoming class.
Best Player: Jalen Wydermyer, Texas A&M
Wydermyer plays a lot like a makeshift Darren Waller. He doesn’t possess the same rare speed that Waller does- but his body type, his route-running, and his experience in contested catch situations drew comparison for me. Wydermyer has great length and a sizable wingspan. He knows how to find soft spots in coverage and plays tough. He’s a jump-ball receiver with a great vertical and has a solid pair of hands. He plays as a short-route option most often in Texas A&M’s offense.
Most Overrated: Jahleel Billingsley, Alabama
Billingsley is listed at 6’4”, 230 lbs, but noticeably looks to have more of a receiver build when he plays. He shows solid speed for his size, but he doesn’t display many traits I expect to see in a league-ready tight end. I’ve seen him taken as early as late-round one, which surprised me after watching his film. He shows good route-running and plays the role well for Alabama, but not many NFL teams may be interested in an exclusively restricted receiver like Billingsley.
Most Underrated: Cole Turner, Nevada
Turner is the biggest red-zone/goal-line threat in this class. This includes both tight ends and receivers. Nevada’s go-to play on the goal line is a short fade to Turner on the left side. Spoiler alert- it works every time. Turner has an incredible set of hands and can make miraculous catches while facing extremely tight coverage. He has an awesome vertical and great size (6’6”, 240 lbs), and his nine touchdown receptions in 2020 were the most out of any tight end prospect I’ve looked at so far in this class.
Watch Out For: Austin Allen, Nebraska
I had to search long and hard to find any useful film on Allen. He’s a 6’8”, 260-pound monster that is a solid route-runner and has decent speed for his large size. I’d watch out for Allen mostly because of his size and his potential to be a reliable option in contested catch situations. The fact that he sports such a height and also has a decent weight for that height means that he’s well-evened out. Physically, he’s very enticing. Unfortunately, though, I need to see more.
Preseason Top Five:
1. Jalen Wydermyer, Texas A&M – A reliable option in all aspects of the passing attack. Reminds me a lot of Darren Waller. Great jump ball receiver with experience in contested catch situations.
2. Cole Turner, Nevada – An elite red-zone threat that can make miraculous receptions with defenders crowding the vision in front of him. Good vertical and hands.
3. Greg Dulcich, UCLA – Very balanced athlete. Dulcich is extremely gifted after the catch and has the intriguing speed for his tight-end size profile. Big play threat and deep ball option.
4. Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina – Vertical threat with solid speed. Defenders often struggle to take him one-on-one. Likely is a matchup nightmare, especially in the open field.
5. Jahleel Billingsley, Alabama – Has the potential to be a receiving tight end in the NFL with his speed gifts and route-running. Has tight end measurables but plays and looks like a big receiver.
Charlie Kolar (Iowa State), Austin Allen (Nebraska), Sean Dykes (Memphis), Derrick Deese Jr. (San Jose State), Grant Calcaterra (SMU)
Elusiveness and athleticism highlighted the 2021 tight end class. Based on what I’ve watched so far, hands and contested-catch ability will be the primary talents for 2022’s. Wydermyer will likely remain TE1 unless somebody breaks out and plays out of their minds.