Bears

Hub Arkush’s 2022 NFL draft positional preview: Tight end

Colorado State tight end Trey McBride looks to run after making a catch against Hawaii on Nov. 20, 2021 in Honolulu.

Other than safety, tight end is the least likely position to see drafted in the first round – only seven in the past five drafts – and 2022 should be no exception.

But when you consider where all of today’s greats were found – Rob Gronkowski (42nd), Travis Kelce (63rd), George Kittle (146th), Zach Ertz (35th) – it just means you have to dig a little deeper and have your board stacked right for Day 2.

While there are some interesting prospects this year, it is a particularly underwhelming class, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see none go before the third round.

DAY 2 PROSPECTS

1. Trey McBride, Colorado St. (6-3½, 246, senior)

A true Y tight end, McBride is not big by NFL standards, but he’s a willing and effective blocker who caught 164 passes for 2,200 yards in 3½ seasons, culminating in the Mackey Award as the best tight end in college football last season. He’s not a seam splitter or big home-run threat but is effective in the middle zones. Biggest question mark is his red-zone skills with only 10 touchdowns on those 164 receptions.

2. Cade Otton, Washington (6-5, 247, redshirt senior)

Otton is another Y who can play in-line or slide out in the slot and is an exciting receiver with plenty of upside as a blocker, which he did do a fair amount of at Washington. He’s a coach’s son, which is usually a plus. He may need to add another 5 to 10 pounds of muscle, but he has all the tools, and his ceiling is high.

3. Jeremy Ruckert, Ohio St. (6-5½, 252, senior)

This kid is a Y with limited potential as a receiver even though he was used more as a U than a Y at Ohio State, but he has the potential to be a ferocious in-line blocker and effective on third-and-short and third-and-medium throws. Nice speed for his size and dependable catching the ball, just not a special athlete.

4. Greg Dulcich, UCLA (6-4, 243, redshirt junior)

Dulcich is the best of our true U tight ends this year. He may never give you a ton as a blocker, although he is willing, but could be an important part of the passing game. He’s a former walk-on at UCLA as a 210-pound teenager who added 35 pounds and became a big-play receiver, averaging 17.7 yards a reception over three seasons.

5. Charlie Kolar, Iowa St. (6-6½, 252, redshirt senior)

Kolar is a project with excellent size and a huge catch radius who was productive in the passing game at Iowa State, but he needs some work as a blocker. Could easily add another 10 pounds and looks to have Jimmy Graham-type potential as a matchup nightmare for defenses.

6. Jalen Wydermyer, Texas A&M (6-3¾, 255, junior)

This kid is a polarizing prospect. Some scouts love Wydermyer, but he’s leaving others with doubts. He was ready for prime time as a freshman but never really emerged as a special player at A&M. He has some exciting skills as a receiver but will need to be challenged, coached and pushed to reach his ceiling.

7. Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina (6-4½, 245, senior)

Likely has some special traits as a receiver but may be limited as a blocker, projecting him as complementary move tight end. But he’s one with big-play ability who could develop into a quality pass catcher. He’s a high-character kid who’ll need work in the weight room.

DAY 3 PROSPECTS

8. Jelani Woods, Virginia (6-7, 253, redshirt senior) – 4.61 40

9. Daniel Bellinger, San Diego St. (6-4¾, 253, senior) – 4.63 40

10. James Mitchell, Virginia Tech (6-4, 249, senior) – 4.76 40 Est.*

11. Teagan Quitoriano, Oregon St. (6-5½, 256, senior) – 4.85 Est.*

12. Jake Ferguson, Wisconsin (6-4¾, 250, redshirt senior) – 4.81 40

13. Chase Allen, Iowa St. (6-6, 251, redshirt senior) – 4.70 Est.*

* – Prospect did not run 40-yard dash at NFL combine and 40 time listed is estimated by handheld watch at Pro Day.

Previous entries in this series

Quarterback

Running back

Wide receiver

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush is the Senior Bears Analyst for Shaw Local News Network and ShawLocal.com.