May 21, 2022

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2022 Draft Tight End Prospects: PFF Grades And Big…

7 min read
2022 Draft Tight End Prospects: PFF Grades And Big...


Today I wanted to look at the tight ends, a position the Pittsburgh Steelers may or may not be looking to add depth to for the 2022 season. The graph below uses their 2021 PFF Grade and their current rank on PFF’s Big Board that updates through the draft process:

PFF currently has only one player in the top 100, Colorado State Trey McBride could stand to add weight and played the last three seasons, with 1000+ receiving yards and 300+ inline snaps last season along with slot experience, especially in 2019 with 150+ snaps. In 2021 he had a 90+ overall grade, 95 receiving grade, and near 70 run block grade, a solid 2.78 yards per route run, good 3.2% drop rate, above average 53.1% contested catch rate, along with top five ranks in contested catches, deep catches, and deep yards. McBride started for the National team in the Senior Bowl and enjoyed his performance, highlighted by a play action where he crossed the formation for a touchdown, a nice contested catch, and solid run block but also had a poor run block as well.

Continuing on the right of the graph we see Coastal Carolina tight end Isaiah Likely who could stand to add weight and played the last three seasons with 150+ inline snaps in each along with 100+ slot snaps in 2019 and 2021, and had 900+ yards last season. He had 90+ overall and receiving grades, a 75 run block grade, a great 2.99 yards per route run, good 1.7% drop rate, below average 40% contested catch rate, and top ten ranks in deep catches and deep yards. Likely played for the American team in the Senior Bowl and fared well as a blocker, one in the pass game chipping his man to the ground and sealed the edge on a scramble for a touchdown.

The final player in the current top 150 with an above the mean grade is San Jose State tight end Derrick Deese Jr. who needs to add weight and played the last three seasons with 150+ inline snaps and 100+ slot snaps in each, and over 200+ last season along with 700+ yards. He had 85+ overall and run block grades, a 75+ receiving grade, a good 2.06 yards per route run, slightly below average 7.8% drop and 47.1% contested catch rates. Deese Jr. also ranked top five in deep catches and top ten in average depth of target, deep yards, and contested catches.

Wisconsin tight end Jake Ferguson has good size and played the last three seasons, with most his experience inline with 200+ snaps in 2019 and 2021 along with some slot experience. He had 85+ overall and receiving grades, a 75+ run blocking grade, above average 1.73 yards per route run and contested catch rate, a good 2.1% drop rate, and a top ten rank in missed tackles forced. Ferguson started for the National team in the Senior Bowl and enjoyed his performance, especially as a receiver with good route running, a catch in tight coverage, another to move the chains, and a good run block but had a crucial false start penalty on a fourth and goal.

Iowa State tight end Charlie Kolar has good size and played the last three seasons, with 150+ slot snaps and 550+ yards in each along with 100+ inline snaps in 2019 and 2021. He had 85+ overall and receiving grades, a near 70 run block grade, good 2.08 yards per route run, 66.7% contested catch, and 3.1% drop rates and ranked first in contested catches. Kolar played for the National team in the Senior Bowl and struggled, especially noting three poor blocks, on one being pancaked and allowing a sack.

Nevada tight end Cole Turner has good size and gained most of his experience the last two seasons with 250+ slot snaps and 600+ yards in each, but not much inline play. He had 70+ overall and receiving grades, a 65+ run block grade, above average 1.49 yards per route run, 4.6% drop and 56.7% contested catch rates along with a top five rank in contested catches. Turner played for the National team in the Senior Bowl and enjoyed his presence as an over the middle receiver, especially one that was contested for a third down conversion but had a block in the back penalty on special teams.

The following players are outside the top 100 with lower grades, starting with Washington tight end Cade Otton who could stand to add some weight and played the last three seasons with 150+ inline snaps in 2019 and 2021 along with 100+ slot snaps in 2019. In 2021 he had 65+ overall and run block grades, a 60+ receiving grade, slightly above average 6.7% drop rate, with a below average 1.06 yards per route run and 37.5% contested catch rate.

UCLA tight end Greg Dulcich needs to add weight and played the last three seasons with 100+ inline snaps the last two and 150+ slot snaps along with 700+ yards last season. He had a 65+ overall grade, a 70+ receiving grade, but a 50+ run block grade, a good 1.92 yards per route run and below average 8.7% drop and 40% contested catch rates. Dulcich played for the American team in the Senior Bowl and had a short over the middle catch but struggled overall, allowing pressure as a pass blocker multiple times, a false start penalty on third and short, and unable to corral a pass though it was low.

Ohio State tight end Jeremy Ruckert has good size and played the last three seasons with 100+ inline snaps in each along with 150+ slot snaps last season. He had a high 50 overall grade, 65+ run block grade, 55+ receiving grade, low .79 yards per route run, an above average 3.7% drop rate, and slightly above average 50% contested catch rate.

Texas A&M tight end Jalen Wydermyer has good size and played the last three seasons with 150+ inline snaps in each and 100+ slot snaps and 500+ yards each of the last two. He had a 60+ overall grade, 65+ receiving grade, but 50+ run block grade, above average 1.51 yards per route run, slightly above average 50% contested catch rate, but poor 16.7% drop rate. Wydermyer also ranked top ten in contested catches.

Virginia Tech tight end James Mitchell has good size and while playing the last three seasons, got most of his experience in 2019 with 100+ slot snaps. He only played in two games last season and had a 60+ overall grade, near 70 receiving grade, but poor 50+ run block grade along with 1.62 yards per route run.

The remaining players are currently PFF’s later round/undrafted possibilities, and I will discuss some. Virginia tight end Jelani Woods has great size and played the last three seasons, with 150+ inline snaps in 2019 and 2021 along with some slot experience and nearly 600 yards last season. He had a 75+ overall grade, 80+ receiving grade, but 50+ run block grade, a good 1.8 yards per route run and 61.1% contested catch rate, but below average 10.2% drop rate, and ranked top ten in missed tackles forced and contested catches. Woods started for the West team in the Shrine Bowl and thoroughly enjoyed his performance with a handful of impressive plays especially as a receiver, highlighted by a great route getting wide open for a touchdown and had an awesome one-handed onside kick recovery to seal the game!

Jeremiah Hall from Oklahoma played fullback for the National team in the Senior Bowl and fared well with a couple strong run blocks and a nice checkdown reception. He has good size for that position and played the last three seasons with around 100 inline snaps in each along with experience in the slot. In 2021 Hall had an 80+ overall grade, 90+ receiving grade, 60+ run block grade, a great 2.4 yards per route run and 0% drop rate, and slightly above average 50% contested catch rate.

Oregon State tight end Teagan Quitoriano has good size and played the last three seasons with 100+ inline snaps in each and some slot experience but rarely used in the pass game. He had a near 70 overall grade, 70+ receiving grade, 65+ run block grade, slightly above average 1.3 yards per route run, and a great 66.7% contested catch rate. He played for the West team in the Shrine Bowl and enjoyed his performance in the short pass game and as a run blocker, highlighted by a short touchdown reception and a nice run block to set up another score.

San Diego State tight end Daniel Bellinger has good size and played the last three seasons with 100+ slot snaps in each and 150+ inline snaps in 2019 and 2021. Last season he had 60+ overall, receiving, and run block grades, above average 1.66 yards per route run, a 0% drop rate and above average 60% contested catch rate. Bellinger started for the American team in the Senior Bowl and had a nice run block but struggled as a pass blocker allowing pressure.

SMU tight end Grant Calcaterra needs to add weight and played in 2019 and 2021 but didn’t play in 2020, gaining most of his experience last season with 200+ slot snaps, nearly 100 inline snaps, and 450+ yards. He had a 60+ overall grade, 65+ receiving grade, but poor 45+ run block grade, slightly above average 1.38 yards per route run, above average 5% drop rate, and below average 36.4% contested catch rate. Calcaterra played for the American team in the Senior Bowl and had a couple nice routes on short receptions but was up and down as a blocker.

Connor Heyward from Michigan State started at fullback for the American team in the Senior Bowl and played well, especially as a blocker and caught a screen but for a loss of yards. He has good size for that position and played the last three seasons, with most of his experience in 2021 where he played 150+ inline snaps and some slot snaps as well. Heyward had a 60+ overall grade, near 70 receiving grade, but 45+ run block grade, average 1.26 yards per route run, and good 2.8% drop and 75% contested catch rates.

While not the biggest position of need, it will be interesting to see if Pittsburgh drafts one for depth in the room or uses their limited draft picks elsewhere.

While the ranks on PFF’s board will certainly change, and surely some names missing from this list, I especially hope you enjoyed the grade data and some notes from the all-star games. Later in the process as the Steelers Depot draft team continues to compile more draft profiles, I plan and look forward to providing visuals with their Depot draft grade and projection.

What are your thoughts on this year’s tight end class? Thanks for reading and let me know your thoughts in the comments!

2022 Draft Tight End Prospects: PFF Grades And Big Board Ranks