The 2021 NFL Draft is over and teams are getting comfortable with their new draft picks. The next class of players is getting prepared now for another year of college football. Each position will be analyzed in the coming days. Here is the 2022 NFL Draft prospect watchlist: Tight ends.
Jake Ferguson, Wisconsin Badgers
For the last three seasons, Ferguson has been a productive tight end for the Badgers. He had 36 receptions for 456 yards and four touchdowns as a freshman. For the 2019 season, Ferguson caught 33 passes for 407 yards and two touchdowns. In seven games during the 2020 season, Ferguson had 30 catches for 305 yards and four touchdowns.
He has decent size for a tight end at 6-foot-5 and 246 pounds. Ferguson has excelled at run blocking, which he has received a lot of reps in playing for Wisconsin. He is a security blanket of a pass-catcher, but can be productive. Ferguson doesn’t have the most athletic traits and could see more targets in the red zone to help make him more well-rounded. A good 2021 season, could have Ferguson be drafted within the first few rounds of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Charlie Kolar, Iowa State Cyclones
Kolar is a part of a very good Iowa State team who will compete for a Big 12 Championship in 2021. He started seeing the field as a freshman, when he recorded 11 receptions for 137 yards and three touchdowns. His sophomore season saw him improve with 51 receptions for 697 yards and seven touchdowns. For the 2020 season, Kolar had 44 receptions for 591 yards and seven touchdowns. Kolar decided to return for the 2021 season, which could see a lot of success coming to Iowa State.
He has solid size for the position at 6-foot-6 and 257 pounds. Kolar has shown good hands and can make catches with defenders draped all over him. He can find the soft spot vs. zone coverage and has shown to make a good effort when blocking. His athleticism and speed will come into question, but Kolar has been a productive tight end. Kolar could lead Iowa State to some big wins and benefit as a result this season.
Cade Otton, Washington Huskies
Otton doesn’t get a lot of publicity on the west coast, but he is a good player. He had 13 catches for 174 yards and three touchdowns as a freshman. In 2019, Otton caught 32 passes for 344 yards and two touchdowns. For the shortened 2020 season, Otton had 18 receptions for 258 yards and three touchdowns.
The senior stands at 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds. He can add more weight to his frame, but Otton already plays with a lot of physicality. His run blocking is pretty advanced for a college player. Otton hasn’t been much of a red zone threat and doesn’t run after the catch very well in his career. Otton’s toughness will be on full display for the Huskies this year.
Jeremy Ruckert, Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State has had other tight ends that Ruckert has had to battle with, but even with that Ruckert has shown off his talents. He had one catch for 13 yards in his first year at Ohio State. His role increased when he was a sophomore and he produced with 14 receptions for 142 yards and four touchdowns. In 2020, Ruckert caught 13 balls for 151 yards and five touchdowns. He specifically performed well down the stretch as Ohio State made the National Championship.
At 6-foot-5 and 253 pounds, Ruckert will fit right in as an NFL tight end. Ruckert has solid athleticism and can make circus-catches. He has shown the ability to separate as a route runner as well. Ruckert hasn’t had great production and still needs to show that he can block better. Ohio State will have a lot of players fighting for targets, but there still should be room for Ruckert to impress.
Jalen Wydermyer, Texas A&M Aggies
Wydermyer has made a huge impact for the Aggies over his first two seasons with the team. In his first year on campus at College Station, Wydermyer caught 32 passes for 447 yards and six touchdowns. The Aggies played two less games in 2020, but Wydermyer produced more with 46 catches for 506 yards and six touchdowns. With Wydermyer being a great option for the offense, the Aggies were able to win the Orange Bowl in 2020.
At 6-foot-5 and 265 pounds, Wydermeyer has the prototypical size for an NFL tight end. He uses his body well to box out defenders to make plays on the ball. Wydermyer has good hands, runs good routes and can be an effective blocker on the second level. He should not be used to block defensive linemen and needs to work on his blocking more. For the 2022 NFL Draft, Wydermyer is the frontrunner to be the first tight end selected.
Other Draft Prospects
Brant Kuithe, Utah Utes- He doesn’t fit the traditional mold of a tight end with his size, but Kuithe has been a key player for Utah for three seasons. Kuithe will likely be used as more of an H-back at the next level.
Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina Chanticleers- While he needs to add weight to his 6-foot-4 frame, Likely has produced more than most players on this list. With Grayson McCall back for the Chanticleers at quarterback, Likely could have a big season.
Will Mallory, Miami Hurricanes- Former teammate Brevin Jordan has stated that Mallory will be the best teammate in this class. He had good production, but now with Jordan out of the picture, he will be more of a centerpiece in the offense.
Trey McBride, Colorado State Rams- McBride is 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds and has produced over the last two seasons for the Rams. He has a chance to produce on a big scale in 2021.
Josh Whyle, Cincinnati Bearcats- Whyle is not much of a blocker, but he started to show his prowess as a pass catcher in 2020. Another big year and some improvements in his blocking and Whyle could shoot up draft boards.
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