Continuing on with the 2022 NFL Draft sleepers series, lets take a look at the tight end position.
We touched on interior defensive linemen yesterday but let’s flip it back to the other side of the football. The tight end group isn’t as strong as it was last year, though Jalen Wydermyer is a likely first-rounder. These three have a shot at raising their stock to match Wydermyer’s if they show improved play this season.
Trey McBride – Colorado St, 6’ 4” 260
This guy is the real deal. Trey McBride isn’t that high on boards yet, as he’s totaled just 4 TDs each of the last two years with limited opportunity. However, he’s an absolute terror after the catch, and he matches that with some crazy long-speed. McBride can stretch the seam as well as anybody and has never been bodied along the route.
That contact balance that he’s shown as a route-runner also translates to his run-blocking. McBride has been up and down as a blocker but the potential was obvious during his 2019 season. He has the power, balance, and short-area quickness to develop into one of the top run-blockers at the position.
We may be looking for McBride to develop a blocker but he has even more room improvement as a receiver. He hasn’t shown any feel against zone coverage as of yet and has some scary tape in the short and intermediate levels of the field.
He’s far from polished but Trey McBride has some raw George Kittle traits. He’s one of my guys for the 2022 NFL Draft.
Greg Dulcich – UCLA, 6’ 3” 245
Dulcich broke out in 2020 with over 500 yards and 5 TDs in just 7 games. He hadn’t produced much prior to that but he looks primed to stack solid performances this season.
Dulcich is a solid checkdown option that can sink into holes against the zone and convert targets with his trusty hands. But he’s much more than just a checkdown option. He’s also a silky route-runner with great feet, balance, and hand technique. Dulcich is capable of producing against every coverage scheme and at every level of the field.
He doesn’t have the most attractive frame but Dulcich has long arms which helps his catch radius. There’s also plenty of room for him to add good weight which would improve his ability as a blocker. Dulcich has good enough long-speed but likely won’t blow the doors off in the 40 at Indy.
As I mentioned, run blocking is an area of improvement for Dulcich but it isn’t for a lack of effort. He needs to improve his practical strength but the tape shows some promising hands and footwork. If he can add some good weight and continue to contribute as a receiver, Dulcich could establish himself as one of the top tight end prospects for the 2022 NFL Draft.
Josh Whyle – Cincinnati, 6’ 6” 245
Another prospect that broke out last season was TE2 for the Bearcats, Josh Whyle. He caught almost everything thrown his way, converting 28 of 34 targets with 0 drops. He showed the kind of receiver skillset that’s sure to earn him a more significant role for the 2021 season.
Whyle has the long speed that allows him to take advantage of overs and crossers and also make an impact stretching the seam. He’s shown soft hands an ability to work between zones. He’s just scratching the surface of his abilities.
Josh Whyle is incredible. pic.twitter.com/IgWm2iaseZ
— GoBeercats (@GoBeercats) August 6, 2021
Considering his frame, Whyle has been surprisingly effective as a run blocker, though I wouldn’t consider it a strength of his just yet. He’ll need to add weight to have success at the next level but Whyle shows the burst off the LOS and the raw power needed to make an impact.
Whyle has the trash-talking and receiving ability that may remind Cincy fans of Travis Kelce, though he’s got plenty of improving to do before we can talk about Whyle the same way we do about Kelce.
We not only need to see Whyle add good weight but we need to see him sift through trash and work through contact more effectively. He also needs to show greater impact along the whole route tree. If he can do that, Josh Whyle has a chance to work his way into the first-round discussion for the 2022 NFL Draft.