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2022 NFL Draft: Falcons top targets at TE

The 2022 NFL Draft is nearly here, and we’re wrapping up our coverage with our final positional rankings. Next up is tight end, a position of special significance in Arthur Smith’s offense where the Falcons have an elite talent in Kyle Pitts.

Colorado State v Iowa Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

The 2022 NFL Draft is almost here, and it’s finally time to wrap up all of our draft coverage with my final positional rankings. I’m proud to say I watched more than 100 players this offseason, far more than ever before. On the site, our team has compiled more than 20 full scouting reports on some of the top prospects in the class—with more to come over the next week! While you may not always agree with our rankings or analysis, we hope you’ve at least enjoyed the discussion and additional viewpoints.

For the positional rankings, these will be based on my personal rankings, not necessarily the rankings of our other writers. I watch players through the lens of the Atlanta Falcons: I prioritize and rank based on the perceived fit in Atlanta’s offense and defense. So keep that in mind, as these rankings may not line up with a generic big board.

I’d also like to note that while I watched a lot of players, I didn’t watch anywhere close to the nearly 300 who will be drafted. As a result, I’m only going to rank the players that I’ve seen at least 2-3 games of. There are tons of other prospects who I’ve seen limited tape of and discussed with other scouts, but I don’t feel comfortable ranking them without at least a few full games watched.

I hope you enjoy these rankings, and if you miss any position groups, you can find them all below:

DEFENSE: EDGE | DT | LB | CB | S | OFFENSE: QB | RB | TE

1: Trey McBride, Colorado State

RAS: 8.20 | Projection: 2nd Round

My TE1 in this draft class, Trey McBride is a legit do-it-all prospect. The engine of the Colorado State offense, McBride put up 90 receptions for 1121 yards (12.5 YPR) and a TD in 2021. He’s got great hands, is a good athlete, and has excellent size and length at over 6’3.5, 246. McBride is also a quality blocker with experience lining up all over the formation, including in-line and in the backfield.

2: Cade Otton, Washington

RAS: N/A | Projection: 3rd Round

Perhaps the best tight end that isn’t widely talked about, Washington’s Cade Otton is an accomplished dual-threat player who looks ready to contribute early in his NFL career. Otton is a very good run and pass blocker and pairs that with good size at 6’5, 250. He’s also a quality pass-catcher, with above-average athleticism and exceptional hands. Otton isn’t on the level of Kyle Pitts as an athlete or receiver, but he’s a well-rounded player who can take on a versatile TE2 role in his rookie season with the potential for more down the road.

3: Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina

RAS: 4.88 | Projection: 3rd Round

Coastal Carolina’s Isaiah Likely could be a perfect fit for the Falcons, both in terms of value and need. Not only was Likely one of the most productive receiving TEs in college football in 2021 with 59 receptions for 912 yards (15.5 YPR) and 12 TDs, he’s also a very capable blocker. Likely didn’t test out as well as expected overall (4.88 RAS), but his explosiveness is terrific and he plays a lot faster than his times. He’s versatile and lined up all over the formation in college: in-line, out wide, in the slot, and as an H-back.

4: Greg Dulcich, UCLA

RAS: 8.25 | Projection: 3rd Round

My biggest winner at tight end coming out of the Senior Bowl, I must admit I hadn’t watched Greg Dulcich at all prior to Mobile. Early on, he impressed with his athleticism, but also showed off excellent hands and ball-tracking abilities on some deep catches. He’s got room to grow as a blocker, but the receiving upside makes him a potential TE1 candidate in time. His strong play in Mobile and his impressive testing at the Combine have elevated him into the late-Day 2 conversation.

5: Jeremy Ruckert, Ohio State

RAS: N/A | Projection: 3rd-4th Round

Ohio State’s Jeremy Ruckert is a classic example of a prospect who is likely to have a much better pro career than college career. He’s got an imposing frame at 6’5, 250 and has the versatility to be deployed all over the formation, including in-line or flexed out wide. Although he suffered an injury at the Senior Bowl and was forced to withdraw from the third day and the game, Ruckert was very impressive in the first two practices. He looked like the best athlete of all the TEs in attendance, and showed off some quality blocking skills.

6: Jelani Woods, Virginia

RAS: 10.0 | Projection: 3rd-4th Round

Virginia’s Jelani Woods, a former receiver, transitioned to tight end in 2021 and made an instant impact with 44 receptions for 589 yards (13.6 YPR) and 8 TDs. At over 6’7, 253, Woods tested out as the most athletic TE of all time (10.0 RAS). His long speed, agility, and explosiveness are all off the charts. As a blocker, Woods is undeveloped, and there will obviously be an adjustment period from just one season as a starter. But the upside is undeniable, and Woods is well-worth taking a shot on the late-Day 2, early-Day 3 range.

7: Daniel Bellinger, San Diego State

RAS: 9.66 | Projection: 4th Round

One of the best blocking tight ends in the class, San Diego State’s Daniel Bellinger wasn’t expected to be a standout at the Senior Bowl in the receiving department. But that’s exactly what happened, as Bellinger had one of the best weeks of any TE. He was peppered with targets from all the QBs and looked like a better athlete and more polished pass-catcher than his tape suggested. Bellinger can be an immediate contributor as a blocking specialist, but his upside as a receiver and elite athletic testing at the Combine gives him the profile of a productive dual-threat TE2 at the NFL level.

8: Charlie Kolar, Iowa State

RAS: 9.10 | Projection: 4th-5th Round

A big-bodied traditional tight end, Kolar is 6’6.5, 252 with excellent length. He’s an aggressive player who brings a nasty attitude to his work as a blocker and receiver. Kolar’s best attribute is his ability to catch the football. He’s got strong hands, a massive catch radius, and a very competitive demeanor at the catch point. Kolar is an expert at bodying smaller defenders and winning contested-catch situations, and is fearless over the middle. Kolar’s elite athletic testing undoubtedly helped his stock, as there were concerns about his long speed and explosiveness on tape. Despite his impressive frame, Kolar is fairly average as a blocker and absolutely must get stronger to make an impact there at the NFL level.

9: Jake Ferguson, Wisconsin

RAS: 6.75 | Projection: 4th-5th Round

If the Falcons are inclined to wait a bit to add to the tight end position, Jake Ferguson offers a well-rounded skillset that would be a good complement to the more electric style of Kyle Pitts. Very much an old-school TE, Ferguson offers quality blocking chops and a reliable skillset as a receiver. He’s not a high-end athlete, but has good hands and carved out a consistent role as a short-yardage and red zone weapon for Wisconsin. He didn’t stand out at the Senior Bowl as much as expected, but I think he’s still a worthy Day 3 pick as a pro-ready TE2 who can help you in all phases.

10: Cole Turner, Nevada

RAS: 7.38 | Projection: 5th Round

Nevada’s Cole Turner was thought to be one of the best receiving tight ends in the class, but a lackluster performance at the Senior Bowl has cooled down his stock significantly. I’m not willing to write him off for a bad week in Mobile, as Turner has consistently been one of the more productive receiving tight ends in college football over the past two seasons. Turner also has upside as a blocker and tremendous size at 6’6, 246. He could be a good value on Day 3 as a potential TE2 for the Falcons.