The 2022 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 2023 NFL Draft prospect watchlist: Tight Ends.
Arik Gilbert, Georgia Bulldogs
Gilbert hasn’t had the most productive career yet, but has flashed potential. At LSU in 2020, he had 35 receptions for 368 yards and two touchdowns. He then transferred to Georgia because of off-the-field issues. Personal matters prevented him from playing in 2021 for the Bulldogs. He is set to play wide receiver for Georgia, but his best fit is at tight end for the next level.
He is a solid athlete for a tight end and has displayed the ability to make contested catches. His size will give linebackers and safeties both matchup problems. His off-field issues will need to be checked out thoroughly and he could be a more dedicated route runner, but Gilbert has immense talent.
Cameron Latu, Alabama Crimson Tide
After joining the Crimson Tide as a defensive player, Latu became a good tight end. He didn’t do much until the 2021 season. He supplanted the starting tight end and was a good target for Bryce Young. Latu caught 26 passes for 410 yards and eight touchdowns. His play helped Alabama reach the National Championship Game.
Latu has solid size at 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, which makes him a good red zone target. He has solid quickness, which helps him create separation and run after the catch. After just one season of production though, Latu will need to put some more good tape out there and continue to do the dirty work when asked to block.
Michael Mayer, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Mayer is one of the most productive tight ends in college football. He had 42 receptions for 450 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman. His play improved during his sophomore season. Mayer caught 71 passes for 840 yards and seven touchdowns as a sophomore. He was a leader on a team that went 11-2 in 2021.
At 6-foot-4 and 249 pounds, Mayer isn’t the biggest tight end. He has shown the ability to block and run solid routes. His hands are also nice, as he can make contested catches. Mayer is also a good red zone target. He is an above-average athlete and runs hard after the catch. He is the frontrunner to sit atop the 2023 NFL Draft tight ends.
Will Mallory, Miami Hurricanes
Mallory has been productive over the last several seasons for the Hurricanes. He had 16 receptions for 293 yards and two touchdowns in 2019. In 2020, he caught 22 passes for 329 yards and four touchdowns. Last season, Mallory had 30 receptions for 347 yards and four touchdowns. He helped new quarterback Tyler Van Dyke in 2021 and the Hurricanes won seven games.
He is 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, which is solid. Mallory doesn’t create the most separation, but has sure hands. He could find the end zone a bit more, but after gaining some rapport with Van Dyke, Mallory could have a big season in 2022.
Darnell Washington, Georgia Bulldogs
Washington has been a good tight end for Georgia, even if the production isn’t the best. He had seven receptions for 166 yards as a freshman. As a sophomore, he hauled in 10 passes for 154 yards and one touchdown as he helped the team win the National Championship. He will have to split time with star Brock Bowers at tight end again next season.
At 6-foot-7 and 265 pounds, Washington is huge for a tight end. He has some drops, but he can create huge mismatch problems. His body control can help him go up and get the ball at the high point. He will need to work on his route-running, but Washington can be a successful NFL tight end.
Other Draft Prospects
Kemari Averett, Bethune-Cookman- Averett started his career at Louisville, but has more recently produced for Bethune-Cookman. He has good size and production to get a lot of looks from the NFL.
Jahleel Billingsley, Texas- Billingsley fell out of favor with the Alabama coaching staff, which allowed Latu to produce. He is a little undersized, but can get open and be a key player for Texas this season.
Brant Kuithe, Utah- Kuithe has had great production, although he may fit into more of an H-back role in the NFL. He stands at 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds.
Sam LaPorta, Iowa- LaPorta has some focus drops, but is a solid all-around tight end, who may not be elite in any one category. Another good season could make him a mid-round pick.
Josh Whyle, Cincinnati- Whyle is one of the few players returning to the Bearcats next season. He has found the end zone a lot and will have to help new quarterback Evan Prather get used to college football.
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