NFL Draft Tight End Rankings 2022: From The College Perspective

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Draft Tight End Rankings 2022: From The College Perspective

College Football Features

NFL Draft Tight End Rankings 2022: From The College Perspective


Who are the tight ends who’ll matter in the 2022 NFL Draft, and what’s the college perspective on all of the top prospects?

2022 NFL Draft Tight End Rankings

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It’s a fabulous class of tight ends to keep feeding the modern NFL style with a whole lot of new playmakers.

There isn’t a Kyle Pitts-like superstar in the bunch, but it’s a deep class with good value gets to keep fitting whatever system you run. There are a few blockers, a few receivers, and a few who do a little bit of everything right – it all depends on when you want to make the call and who fits in the right spots.

There probably won’t be a first rounder out of this tight end group, and there’s no real set order with the top seven or so able to be mixed around however needed. The star of the class could come from the teens and mid-rounds; that’s how interchangeable this year is at the position.

2022 Top Quarterback Prospects: From The College Perspective

Grant Calcaterra, SMU

Size: 6-4, 241

The Good: A nice pass catcher at Oklahoma before moving over to SMU as a senior, he’s really fast for a tight end, smooth as glass as a pass catcher, and he was a surprisingly good blocker for his size. When he got more of an opportunity, he came up with 38 catches for 465 yards and four scores for the Mustangs.

The Not-So-Good: He’s a bit too small. He’s a talented blocker, but he’s missing the mass to get it done consistently at the next level. There’s the smarts and the craftiness to get open, but he’s not going to be a game-changing NFL receiver.

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: There’s enough there to like and give it a shot as a No. 2 receiving tight end, but the lack of size and a history of concussion concerns are worrying. He’s a late round shot for the stars.

NFL Draft Projection: Fifth Round

Teagan Quitoriano, Oregon State

Size: 6-5, 258

The Good: A true project of a prospect, there’s next-level athleticism to his style with the ability to move well, jump well, and do a whole lot of things several other tight ends in this class can’t. He didn’t put up big numbers – 40 catches for 512 yards and six scores – but there are too many positives to his style and measurables to blow off.

The Not-So-Good: Again, he’s a project. He was fine at Oregon State, but he only has 27 games of experience and he was hardly a dominant force or a big-time producer. The blocking was fine, but he’s not good enough to make that a positive to get him on an NFL field.

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: Go ahead and take that late round flier. He’s got basketball player skills and athleticism that could translate into an interesting NFL pass catching mismatch type with the right fit.

NFL Draft Projection: Sixth Round

Chase Allen, Iowa State

Size: 6-6, 251

The Good: The sky’s the limit on what he can become with the opportunity. He caught 74 passes for 810 yards and six touchdowns over his five years, but that lack of production was partly because Charlie Kolar was so good as the main man tight end. Even so, Allen earned All-Big 12 honors because he could block. The pass catching skills are there to do a little of everything.

The Not-So-Good: He’s not an elite receiver. The measurables are fine, and he was good when the ball was thrown his way, but he’s not a field stretcher and he’s not a dynamic target who’ll do much down the field. However …

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: He’s an ideal No. 2 tight end – he proved that at Iowa State. He won’t complain when he’s not getting the ball, and he’ll be more than happy to crush someone in the running game and later coming up with a decent mid-range catch for a first down. A coaching staff is going to fall in love with his game.

NFL Draft Projection: Fifth Round

James Mitchell, Virginia Tech

Size: 6-4, 249

The Good: When he’s right, he has the athleticism and skills to be a dangerous NFL-caliber pass catcher who can stretch the field. He wasn’t quite utilized as much as he should’ve been – 47 catches with six touchdowns in his first two seasons – but he averaged well over 16 yards per catch when he had the opportunity. No, he’s not massive, but he’s a decent blocker for what he does.

The Not-So-Good: He’s coming off a knee injury and should take a while before he’s all back full. Fully healthy he’s a good-looking prospect with upside, but take away even a little bit of his speed and athleticism and his stock drops. Yes, he was great when he had his chances, but he didn’t get enough passes his way.

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: There’s a shot he’s one of the biggest late round sleepers in the draft if you can be patient. There might be several good receiving tight ends in this draft, but they don’t have the downfield explosion or playmaking ability that he does when fully healthy. He’ll get there.

NFL Draft Projection: Fifth Round

Jalen Wydermyer, Texas A&M

Size: 6-4, 255

The Good: He consistently produced at an SEC level, spreading out his 118 catches for 1,468 yards and 16 touchdowns over his three seasons. He’s a solid route runner, a strong receiver, and he quick and solid on the field without a lot of wasted motion. Throw the ball his way and he’ll get it, but …

The Not-So-Good: He would’ve been much higher on this list before his 5.03 40 at his Pro Day. He’s not going to do anything as a blocker at the next level, and he wasn’t that much of a field stretcher in college – that lack of raw wheels for his game is a problem.

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: He’ll drop because of a mediocre Pro Day, but he’s too good a receiver to ignore. He might not be a No. 1 tight end, and he has to prove he can improve after not doing as much as he probably should have last year, but he’ll be a part of an offense as a third down No. 2 option.

NFL Draft Projection: Fourth Round

Cole Turner, Nevada

Size: 6-6 246

The Good: Very, very, very productive. Nevada winged the ball all around the year with Carson Strong at quarterback, and Turner was on the other end of a lot of those plays with 111 catches for almost 1,300 yards and 19 scores over the last two seasons. The 4.76 40 and all-around athleticism are good enough.

The Not-So-Good: He’s too lanky – he’s missing the bulk – built like a big wide receiver more than a tough tight end. There’s not going to be anything to like about his blocking – it’s just not going to happen. A product of the offensive style at Nevada, he’s going to have to get used to getting popped a lot more.

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: He’ll get dinged because he doesn’t quite look the part and needs to get bigger, and you’re just not going to get any big blocks from him, but line him up, throw him the ball, and he’ll go get it. Get him for what he can do well, and he’ll produce.

NFL Draft Projection: Fourth Round

Daniel Bellinger, San Diego State

Size: 6-5, 253

The Good: The all-around skills and tools are there. He’s got great size, a nice frame, and he somehow caught 68 career passes for 771 yards and five touchdowns in a San Diego State offense that was hardly The Greatest Show on Turf. However, in that attack you need to be able to block, and he can do it.

The Not-So-Good: Yeah, San Diego State didn’t have a high-end passing game, but he’s going to need work as a receiver. Call it a lack of opportunity – he needs more targets, more chances, and he might need some work before he can produce for a next-level passing game.

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: You’ll have to project a bit here. The raw tools are there and there’s a lot to work with. He’ll block and he’ll catch, but will he do either one at a high level? He’s a great No. 2 tight end who can fill in, but there’s upside to turn into a strong starter with a little time.

NFL Draft Projection: Fourth Round

Jake Ferguson, Wisconsin

Size: 6-5, 250

The Good: A solid four-year starter who spread out his 145 catches and 13 touchdowns over his career, he mainly ran one route that all Wisconsin tight ends have to master – right down the seam to take advantage of linebackers cheating up against the run.

Everyone knew what was coming, and no one could consistently stop it. No tight end in this class is better at hanging on to the ball when he knows he’s about to get blasted.

The Not-So-Good: He’s missing the raw bulk to do much as an NFL blocker. You can’t play tight end for Wisconsin if you can’t help against the run, but he’s going to be functional at very best at the next level. The NFL athleticism and tools aren’t quite there, but …

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: You know exactly what you’re getting. He’s going to catch everything, he’ll be as reliable as they come, and he’ll be tough as nails no matter how big a hit he takes.

NFL Draft Projection: Fourth Round

Jelani Woods, Virginia

Size: 6-7, 259

The Good: In terms of NFL tools, he might be the best tight end prospect in the draft. He’s massive, runs well – he came up with a 4.69 40 at the combine – and he’s shockingly quick for his size. After not doing much as a receiver at Oklahoma State, he blossomed in the newly-amazing Virginia passing game last year with 44 catches for close to 600 yards and eight scores.

The Not-So-Good: He’s not really going to block. He’s got the frame and mass to wall off his guy, but he’s not going to flatten anyone. There’s still a lot of work to do on the finer route running points, and he needs to be more of a receiver after getting the job done for just one year, but …

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: You can work out the kinks. Guys with his size, his athleticism, and his upside and potential are rare. It might take a year or two, but there’s a shot that he turns into the star of this class if it all comes together.

NFL Draft Projection: Third Round

Jeremy Ruckert, Ohio State

Size: 6-5, 250

The Good: He’s got the Ohio State that’s-an-NFL-player look and feel. Unlike a slew of the top tight ends in this crop, he’s a blocker who’s not just willing, he’s more than competent. There’s upside as a receiver after not being used quite as much in an offense loaded with NFL wide receivers – he can catch when he’s utilized.

The Not-So-Good: He’s not quite the proven receiver you might like – at least compared to others in this draft. He was fine when thrown to, but he only made 54 catches for 615 yards and 12 touchdowns in his four years. There weren’t a ton of big downfield plays and he wasn’t a massive worry for defenses.

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: The upside is enormous. Again, you’re not throwing to the tight end when you have the wide receivers Ohio State had, but it would’ve been nice if he was a bit more of a factor. Coaches and scouts, though, will blow that off because – compared to the rest of the guys in this draft – Ruckert will pop.

NFL Draft Projection: Third Round

Cade Otton, Washington

Size: 6-5, 247

The Good: Right size, right athleticism, right skills, he’s a huge target and great route runner with the craftiness to get open. He’s about as smooth as it gets in this class of tight ends, and all with the frame to create a great catching radius. Experienced, he’s a veteran who knows what he’s doing, but …

The Not-So-Good: He was just okay as a college receiver. It wasn’t his fault – he can only make plays in the scheme of the attack – but he’s a four-year guy who caught 91 passes with nine scores. He made plays, but he wasn’t quite the weapon that other tight ends in this draft were. Throw in the just okay blocking ability, and …

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: It’ll be really, really interesting to see where the NFL Draft market places him. He’s got a world of upside with a ton of talent to grow into a big-time NFL producer. It wouldn’t be a shock if he was the first tight end off the board, and it wouldn’t be a shock if he lasted until the fourth round. It doesn’t matter – he’ll start at the next level and be a reliable go-to target.

NFL Draft Projection: Third Round

Greg Dulcich, UCLA

Size: 6-3, 243

The Good: A killer of a worker, he’s going to fight for every yard, he’s a willing blocker – even if he doesn’t do it all that well – and he’s been able to turn himself into a field-stretcher who grew into a Pac-12 star. He averaged close to 20 yards per catch as a junior and caught 42 passes with five scores last year as a dangerous all-around factor for the passing game.

He’s a great route runner, wins the battles for the ball, and he seems to love making contested catches.

The Not-So-Good: You’d like him to be a big bigger, a wee bit faster, and a lot stronger. The tools are there to be an NFL starter, but there isn’t anything that screams MUST HAVE about his measurables or his game.

This is going to sound way worse than it’s intended, but he’s a former walk-on – that’s good for work ethic, but again, he’s missing that truly elite thing.

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: There’s probably a hard ceiling on just how good he’ll be, but as a No. 2 tight end he could be a devastatingly reliable third down and goal line target. There might be others in this group who look and play the NFL part a bit better, but Dulcich will be as consistent as any pass catching tight end in the draft.

NFL Draft Projection: Third Round

Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina

Size: 6-4, 245

The Good: Don’t get caught up with what he’s not – more on that in a second.

You take him to catch a gajillion passes and be a matchup problem for the slower linebackers and smaller defensive backs who have to try covering him.

He’s got wide receiver ability in his big frame, catching 121 passes over the last three seasons with 27 career touchdowns. Coastal Carolina might have had the right offense and the efficient quarterback, but it was Likely who was the devastating playmaker down the middle of the field.

However …

The Not-So-Good: Ehhhhh, whatever – you’ll find someone else to block.

You’re not getting him to blast away on anyone. He’s a receiver who’ll make a whole lot of catches. However, not to conference shame, but he didn’t exactly light up the Alabamas and Clemsons of the world – Kansas was the only Power Five program he caught a pass against.

He’s got the tools to make plays against anyone, but he’s about to step up his competition level in a huge way.

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: Yeah, there are concerns about whether or not he really can be a superstar volume catcher once he goes against guys who can run at his level, but he’ll be fine. A coaching staff – and a quarterback – will fall in love with what he’s bringing to a passing attack.

NFL Draft Projection: Second Round

Charlie Kolar, Iowa State

Size: 6-6, 252

The Good: Blow off all of the not-so-good aspects of his game. He’s very big, he can move, and he’s an elite athletic pass catcher who’s a perfect fit for the modern NFL passing game.

Even though he was targeted by every defense as his career went on, he got stronger and stronger, catching 168 passes for 2,181 yards and 23 touchdowns in his great career, and he’s going to be ready right out of the box as a No. 1 tight end who’ll suck in every pass that comes his way. Just throw it at him and he’ll go get it.

The Not-So-Good: Yeah, you’d like him to be more of a thunderous blocker, but that’s not happening. He’ll give it a go – you don’t help out an offense like Iowa State’s with a back like Breece Hall without being able to hit a little bit – but he’s never going blow up his guy. Combine that along with a missing NFL-level shiftiness, and …

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: Do … not … overthink this. The guy will catch lots and lots and lots of passes. He was consistent, played at a high level – he all but owned Oklahoma over the last few years – and he’ll always get you the first down. No, he’s not as explosive as some might like, and he’s not going to be Travis Kelce, but if you have speed at receiver he’ll grab everything else underneath.

NFL Draft Projection: Third Round

Trey McBride, Colorado State

Size: 6-4, 246

The Good: A great pass catcher who stepped up his game as a senior – catching 90 passes for 1,121 yards and a score for a Colorado State team that went nowhere – as a strong fighter for the ball who has no problems making the tough grab.

But there are plenty of good, physical receiving tight ends in this group – it’s McBride’s willingness and power as a blocker that takes him up a tick. He does just about everything right for what an NFL tight end should be. However …

The Not-So-Good: There’s nothing he does at a truly elite level.

He’s not long enough or athletic enough to be a full-time focus of an NFL passing game, and he’s not a George Kittle as a blocker. Again, he’s very, very good at doing everything, but he’s missing that one thing that’s going to make him a must-have offensive gamechanger at the position.

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: You know exactly what you’re about to get. You’re getting a tough guy who’ll always make the hard catch for the first down, he’ll come up with the willing block when needed, and he’s not going to get cheated when it comes to doing the work. He’s an NFL starting tight end right out of the box.

NFL Draft Projection: Second Round

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