GREEN BAY, Wis. – With the trade of All-Pro receiver Davante Adams, the Green Bay Packers are looking to add some passing-game weapons in this week’s NFL Draft.
That doesn’t necessarily have to be a receiver.
“Ted (Thompson) always used to say, ‘You’ve got to have some pass catchers around here,” On Monday, Brian Gutekunst, general manager, spoke highly of his predecessor. “Whether that’s tight ends, running backs, receivers, you’ve got to have guys who can catch the ball.”
Could one of those pass-catching menaces be Las Vegas Raiders tightend Darren Waller
Citing two league sources, Cheesehead TV’s Aaron Nagler reported the Packers are “targeting” Waller. The teams reportedly have engaged in trade talks, with the hope of completing a trade during this weekend’s draft.
A league source told Packer Central that report is “not true.”
A separate source late Monday night said word around the league was the Raiders were shopping Waller.
If there are trade talks, perhaps they’re being conducted only by Gutekunst and his Las Vegas counterpart, Dave Ziegler, and our source would be out of the loop.
Green Bay’s interest in Waller is obvious. He is one of the best tight ends in the NFL – and an affordable one, too.
Waller, a sixth-round Baltimore Ravens pick in 2015, was taken by the Raiders as a practice squad in 2018. In 2019, Waller caught 90 passes to gain 1,145 yards and three touchdowns. In 2020, he caught 107 passes to 1,196 yards and nine touchdowns. He was sidelined for six games last season due to back and knee injuries, and a bout of COVID. Last season, he had 55 receptions for 665 yard and two touchdowns.
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Even a down year for a Raiders tight end would be big-time for the Packers. Jermichael finley (61 in 2012), as well as Richard Rodgers (58) are the only tight end in franchise history to have more receptions in one season than Waller had in his 11 games last.
Waller was dominant in the Packers’ 42-24 win over the Oakland Raiders on Oct. 20, 2019. Waller caught 7 of 8 targets for 126 yards and two touchdowns.
Jon Gruden, then-Raiders’ coach, raved about Waller before the game.
“He’s one of the great stories in football,” Gruden spoke to reporters from the Packers beat during a conference call. “I just hope people around the league, young people, take a good look at this guy. It’s just a credit to him. I mean, he was out of football, he had some bad things going on in his life. He’s a converted wide receiver and, when we played the Ravens, we saw Waller working out before the game.
“I couldn’t believe how much bigger and stronger he looked. And we took him off their practice squad and he has not just been a receiver he has been a great blocker. He’s been an outstanding in-line tight end, you can line him up in the slot, out wide. Great kid, and he’s overcome the problems off the field that he has had. And he can be a real resource, a positive resource for people that are struggling out there with substance abuse. Look up Darren Waller, get to meet Darren Waller, and start cheering for this kid. It’s really been great.”
Waller will be under contract for the next two years with manageable cap numbers at $6.84 million 2022 and $7.00million 2023.
September 13 will mark his 30th birthday.
After trading Adams to the Raiders, the Packers now have two additional second-round picks. They also have one pick at the third round, two at the fourth and three at the seventh.
They also have a long-term requirement at tight end so any interest in 2020 Pro Bowler is reasonable.
Green Bay currently has Robert Tonyan Marcedes Lewis, Josiah Deguara and Marcedes Lewis under contract. Tonyan is recovering from a torn ACL so he might not be available for Week 1. Tonyan and Lewis will become free agents in the next offseason.
The Raiders’ No. Foster Moreau, who played 11 games and caught 30 passes last year, is the Raiders’ No. 2. Their No. 1 draft pick was acquired after they shipped their top draft picks, in the Adams trade, to Green Bay. 86 overall in Round 3.
Ultimate NFL Draft Preview: Tight Ends
Ranking the Draft Need
Out of 11 position groups, tight end ranks as the fifth-most important need.
Next offseason, Lewis and Tonyan will be free agents. If Tonyan doesn’t play well, the Packers might not want him back. He might not be able to play like he did in 2020. And Lewis will turn 38 next month and (probably) can’t play forever.
With the 6-foot-2 Deguara being the “move” tight end – the one more capable of playing fullback and in the slot than lining up as a traditional tight end – our list of prospects will focus only on players capable of filling the Tonyan and Lewis roles.
Perhaps You Can Forget These Prospects
Based on Green Bay’s draft history, Texas A&M’s Jalen Wydermyer is among the prospects who might not be on the board.
Ranking the Tightends: Trey McBride ranks No. 1
Ranking the Tight Ends
Trey McBride, Colorado State
Measureables: 6-3 5/8, 246 pounds. 10 1/8 hands. 4.56 40, DNP shuttle.
Stats: McBride had an incredible senior season, catching 90 passes for 1,121 yards (12.5 average). He scored just one touchdown. Still, he was a unanimous first-team All-American and won the Mackey Award as the nation’s top tight end. In just three seasons, he catches 164 balls for 2,100 yard and 10 touchdowns.
Deeper Stats: McBride had three drops (3.2 percent), nine receptions on passes thrown 20-plus yards downfield and averaged 5.0 YAC per catch, according to Pro Football Focus. He was second in the draft for deep receptions. According to Sports Info Solutions and its look at the top 25 tight end prospects, he ranked third with 2.8 yards per pass route, eighth with 8.6 yards per target and fifth with a blown-block rate on running plays of 0.3 percent. On a per-block basis, he was 22nd in total points.
Personal Touch: An older brother, Toby, was a sixth-senior defensive end for Colorado State in 2021 and started three games. Dylan, a twin brother to Toby, was a wrestler at Western Colorado.
The Denver Post told their story. The headline: “Two moms, one heartbeat: Why CSU Rams Trey and Toby McBride put family first.” The subhead: “The McBrides were raised as scholars and gentlemen, gladiators and goofs, by a lesbian couple who embraced Fort Morgan — and vice versa.”
They don’t know their father and have no interest in finding out. “Every once in a while, people kind of give you crap about it,” Trey said. “I don’t understand why. And sometimes, you know, you’ve got to defend yourself. You’re not going to let someone punk you for something like that. I really haven’t had any problems since I’ve been up here (in Fort Collins). So it’s really not a big deal. It’s 2019, you know what I’m saying?”
NFL Draft Bible Scouting Report: Thick, muscular and physical tight end with above-average athleticism. McBride is a solid blocker, opening lanes and finishing. He is strong in hand and footwork, has good route running skills, and has enough athleticism to make an impact on the passing game. McBride can be a good backup and an early starter. Because he is technically sound, his ceiling can be a solid starter since he doesn’t possess transcendent traits.
Greg Dulcich, UCLA
Measureables: 6-4, 243 pounds. 9 7/8 hands. 4.69 40, 4.37 shuttle.
Stats: The former walk-on set career highs with 42 receptions for 725 yards and five touchdowns as a senior to earn first-team all-Pac-12. In 2021, he averaged 17.3 yards per catch and 19.9 in 2020.
Deeper Stats: Dulcich had four drops (8.7 percent), five receptions on passes thrown 20-plus yards downfield and averaged 7.0 YAC per catch, according to Pro Football Focus. Sports Info Solutions’ analysis of the top 25 tight-end prospects found that Dulcich ranked 10th with 2.0 yards per passing route, fourth with 10.8 yard per target, and seventh with a 0.6% blown-block rate for running plays. He was 16th in its total points metric on a per block basis.
Personal Touch: The undersized Dulcich arrived at UCLA as a walk-on. His high school coach, Jim Bonds, was a former UCLA quarterback so provided some persuasion. Two years later, on his 20th birthday, he was given a scholarship.
“Just awesome; the best phone call I’ve ever received,” Dulcich stated at the time. “Coach Kelly called and I thought he was just checking in with me on some things when he said I’d be on a scholarship. I was able to be with my family when the call happened and we were able to celebrate.”
He was a semi-finalist for the Mackey Award, top tight end, and Burlsworth Award, top walk-on.
NFL Draft Bible Scouting Report: Dulcich brings good athletic traits and size to the position, all while playing as though he is a receiver. Dulcich doesn’t hesitate to use his length to shield his chest from media coverage when he is spread out wide. Dulcich is also very familiar with the details of his route running and route stems. He is able to use different tempos on his route to get different reactions from the defensive backs. Excellent hands at the catch point. Never loses focus when trying to box out defenders.
Jeremy Ruckert, Ohio State
Measureables: 6-5 1/2, 252. 10 1/8 hands. DNP testing (foot).
Stats: Ruckert caught 28 passes during his first three seasons but 26 passes for 309 yards (11.9 average) and three touchdowns as a senior. In 2021, he was an honorable mention all-Big Ten. Twelve of his 54 career catch were touchdowns.
Deeper Stats: Ruckert had one drop (3.7 percent), one reception on passes thrown 20-plus yards downfield and averaged 5.7 YAC per catch, according to Pro Football Focus. According to Sports Info Solutions, Ruckert ranked 21st with 1.0 yards per pass route, 12th at 8.1 yards per target, and 19th with an average blown-block rate of 1.5 percent on running plays. Ruckert was third in its total points metric on a per block basis.
Personal Touch: Ruckert doesn’t have much of a pass-catching history. George Kittle, however, didn’t have a lot of pass-catching history.
“I love the way he plays the game, his mindset, all of the jobs that he does,” Ruckert told Newsday. “He’s an every-down tight end, he can do everything, he excels at everything. But the biggest thing that sticks out when you watch him is his mentality and mindset. He’s not just trying to block somebody he’s trying to take him out and I respect that.”
He went to Ohio State knowing he wouldn’t catch passes, but he became battle-tested in a hurry going up against defensive ends Joey Bosa and Chase Young.
“That was the biggest [part of the] decision for me going to Ohio State was I wanted to be that complete guy, I wanted to adapt to that toughness and their culture,” He said. “I knew going into Ohio State that maybe the production wouldn’t be there but what I was going to get out of that program, the person I’d become, the player I’d become, the versatility I’ve been able to adapt to, I don’t regret that at all. I’ve learned how to play in a really competitive environment against great competition every week, winning championships, playing games.”
NFL Draft Bible Scouting Report: Jeremy Ruckert is an experienced tight end for the Ohio State Buckeyes. He has earned his keep over the past few seasons because of his ability as a blocker, above anything else. He displays good power in all facets of run blocking and can be a lead blocker into the second level. There remains some technical deficiencies, though, with his body position on blocking in a gap concept. As a receiver, he is still fairly raw and was underutilized in his time at Ohio State. He lacks the dynamic athleticism to be an elite target, but he has the makings to be a reliable target for his quarterback.
Jelani Woods, Virginia
Measureables: 6-7 1/8, 253 pounds. 9 1/2 hands. 4.61 40, 4.33 shuttle.
Stats: After spending four years at Oklahoma State, Woods transferred to Virginia for his final season and dominated. He caught 44 passes for 598 yards (13.6 average) and eight touchdowns in 11 games to earn first-team all-ACC. From 2018 through 2020, he caught only 31 passes with four touchdowns.
Deeper Stats: Woods had five drops (10.2 percent), two receptions on passes thrown 20-plus yards downfield and averaged 5.3 YAC per catch, according to Pro Football Focus. With his power, he ranked first in the draft class with 11 missed tackles. According to Sports Info Solutions, he ranked 11th with 1.9 yards per pass route, 10th with 8.5 yards per target and 16th with a blown-block rate on running plays of 1.0 percent. In its total points metric, he was seventh on a per-block basis.
Personal Touch: Woods arrived at Oklahoma State as a quarterback. After spending a week emulating the opponent’s top tight end, the Cowboys’ coaches moved him to tight end.
“I ended up giving them a great look throughout the week,” Woods told Richmond.com. “Literally the next week, my coach came to me and proposed the deal with me. I loved it.”
Woods was a block-first tight end at Oklahoma State. After transferring to Virginia, he blossomed into a do-it-all star. Upon arriving at Virginia, he donned jersey No. 0. “Zero came from me just being confident and saying nobody can stop me pretty much, safety, linebackers, corners, nobody can stop me so I felt like I wanted to put that on my back,” he told NFL Network.
Woods has a strong bond with his older brother, Jay, who has a developmental disability, even though Jay is sometimes a harsh critic. “It shows improvement in his ability to know things and learn things,” Woods told The Oklahoman. “So, I’m happy that he can do that.”
Sports Info Solutions Scouting Report: Even without speed and quickness, Woods shows good route running ability. He separates using that, his body, and being physical at the top of routes. He isn’t much of a mismatch against most defenders, but can present a clear size mismatch at times. Overall, his hands are just sufficient. He makes good catches and shows ability to attack the football, but sometimes he looks to be fighting the ball, and he bobbles too many catches. In the run game, Woods shows inconsistency in his ability to drive defenders off the ball. There are times where he fires off the ball and shows good leg drive, playing through the whistle, but there are other times where he stops his feet at the POA and tries to use his upper body to move them.
Charlie Kolar, Iowa State
Measureables: 6-6 1/2, 252 pounds. 10 hands. 4.62 40, 4.30 shuttle.
Stats: No tight end in this draft class was used as consistently often as Kolar. He caught 51 passes as a sophomore, 44 as a junior and 62 as a senior. His four-year totals: 168 receptions for 2,181 yards (13.0 average) and 23 touchdowns. He earned All-American honors each of his final three years and was a four-team all-Big 12 choice.
Deeper Stats: Kolar had two drops (3.3 percent), one reception on passes thrown 20-plus yards downfield and averaged 3.8 YAC per catch, according to Pro Football Focus. According to Sports Info Solutions, he ranked fifth with 2.3 yards per pass route, 12th with 8.1 yards per target and 21st with a blown-block rate on running plays of 1.6 percent. In its total points metric, he was 15th on a per-block basis.
Personal Touch: Kolar comes from a family full of athletes. His older brother, John, played quarterback at Oklahoma State and Iowa State. A sister, Katie, played volleyball at West Virginia. His mom played volleyball at Notre Dame. John and Charlie played a season together with the Cyclones.
Kolar capped his college career by winning the Williams V. Campbell Trophy as the top scholar-athlete in college football. The Academic Heisman, as its known, comes with a $25,000 postgraduate scholarship.
“This is an incredible honor,” Kolar said. “The finalists this year had amazing resumes, and to be recognized along with the other winners of this prestigious award, I am so grateful. When you come to college on an athletic scholarship you have the responsibility to learn, and I don’t think you should waste that opportunity. My parents played a huge role in instilling these values in me and it was great to have them both here with me tonight.”
“Charlie is as high-end of a competitor I have ever been around,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said. “Whatever Charlie has put his mind to, he’s been successful. He wants to be the best. If it’s school, he wants to be the best. If it’s on the football field, he wants to be the best. He’s earned this honor and I’m so thrilled for him, because all of his hard work has got him where he is today.”
NFL Draft Bible Scouting Report: Kolar is a tall, long tight end that offers size at the line of scrimmage as a blocker and over the middle as a receiver. He has strong hands at the catch point to haul in contested passes. Also, he looks like a very natural pass catcher in general with how he uses his hands and his ability to snatch the ball out of the air. He can be physically imposing on smaller linebackers covering him and has the ability to win with pure strength in his routes.
Cade Otton, Washington
Measureables: 6-5, 247 pounds. 9 1/2 hands. DNP testing (ankle).
Stats: Otten caught 91 passes for 1,026 yards and nine touchdowns in 39 career games (35 starts). Limited to eight games as a senior by an ankle injury and COVID, Otten caught 28 passes for 250 yards (8.9 average) and one touchdown as a senior. He averaged 14.3 yards per grab in 2020.
Deeper Stats: Otton had two drops (6.7 percent), zero receptions on passes thrown 20-plus yards downfield and averaged 4.3 YAC per catch, according to Pro Football Focus. According to Sports Info Solutions, he ranked 19th with 1.3 yards per pass route, 24th with 5.4 yards per target and 23rd with a blown-block rate on running plays of 2.4 percent. In its total points metric, he was 18th on a per-block basis.
Personal Touch: Otton was unable to go through testing because of an ankle injury that required surgery. “It’s a long and slow process but it’s coming along great and, honestly, it’s been a great time of reflection and just trying to get healthy and getting my mind right,” Otton said at the Scouting Combine. “It’s been a great challenge to deal with this adversity, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’d love to be participating, obviously, and competing because I’m a competitor, but the lessons I’ve learned in this time have been invaluable.”
His grandfather is the winningest high school coach in Washington history. “My dad and my grandpa have both talked to me about this time because it is hard — we don’t lose this many games around here,” Otton told SI. “My grandpa, in the start of his career, he lost a bunch of games. He talked about staying committed and keep grinding.”
NFL Draft Bible Scouting Report: Strong hands through traffic over the middle of the field. Fairly refined route runner for a tight end to create some separation at the catch point. Also has a good release off the line to push into zone coverage. He isn’t afraid to take hits in the process of the catch or after the catch. Shows signs of being a quality blocker. Has the finisher mentality as a blocker. Solid speed when he gets down the field vertically. Anchor and lower body strength provided the platform for him as a blocker.
Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina
Measureables: 6-4 1/2, 245 pounds. 10 hands. 4.82 40, 4.57 shuttle.
Stats: Likely delivered three years of strong production en route to career numbers of 133 receptions for 2,050 yards (15.4 average) and 27 touchdowns. As a senior, he was a second-team All-American with 59 receptions for 912 yards (15.5 average) and 12 scores. He will be dinged for terrible workout numbers and the shortest arms at the position in the class, though.
Deeper Stats: Likely had one drop (1.7 percent), seven receptions on passes thrown 20-plus yards downfield and averaged 6.9 YAC per catch, according to Pro Football Focus. He ranked third in the draft class in deep receptions. According to Sports Info Solutions, he ranked first with 3.5 yards per pass route, third with 11.5 yards per target and seventh with a blown-block rate on running plays of 0.6 percent. In its total points metric, he was fourth on a per-block basis.
Personal Touch: Likely went to Everett (Mass.) High School with Georgia safety Lewis Cine, a potential first-round pick.
“As a high schooler, you kind of talk about not in a joking manner but as like a dream aspect,” Likely told WCVB. “And then the more and more you play, the more and more you realize that your dreams, low-key, are coming into reality.”
Recruited by some schools as a receiver, what should scouts look for in a tight end? “I’d look for if a kid has a competitive nature and a dog mentality,” Likely told The Buffalo News. “At the end of the day at tight end, you have to be able to pass catch and be able to run block. So, you have to know what the receivers are doing and you gotta know what the O-linemen are doing.”
NFL Draft Bible Scouting Report: Displaying his versatility in the Chanticleers offense, Likely lines up out wide, in-line and at H-back. He possesses good speed, allowing him to win vertically and create chunk plays thanks to his ball tracking. Smooth footwork and ankle flexion lets him adjust angles at high speeds and perform speed cuts at the deep and intermediate level of the field. Likely keeps his head straight before snapping off his routes to test the eye discipline of opponents. After the catch, he is shifty, making poor tacklers miss. He navigates the sideline and manages to stay in bounds. A high effort blocker, Likely competes in that phase of the game as he drives smaller defenders.
James Mitchell, Virginia Tech
Measureables: 6-4, 249 pounds. 9 3/4 hands. DNP testing (knee).
Stats: Mitchell missed most of his senior season with a torn ACL. In 2020, he caught 26 passes for 435 yards (16.7 average) and four touchdowns. He averaged 18.0 yards on his 52 career receptions. He also rushed for five touchdowns on jet sweeps.
Deeper Stats: In 2020, Mitchell had two drops (7.7 percent), three receptions on passes thrown 20-plus yards downfield and averaged 10.1 YAC per reception, according to Pro Football Focus. He led the nation with 3.03 yards per target and YAC per catch.
Personal Touch: Before the injury, Mitchell entered 2021 with high hopes. “I would say just dominating every aspect of the game,” he said. “I’m a senior. This will be my fourth season now. I’ve played against pretty much all the teams. I’ve played against the Clemsons, the Notre Dames. The experience is there. It’s time to take everything I’ve learned from each season and take that into each week, just try to be the best player on the field at all times.”
His father is a pastor and his mom was a basketball star at Brown. His father provided the work ethic, as did growing up in a coal-mining town. “He was a big deal there, and the way he handled it was pretty cool,” Hokies coach Justin Fuente said. “We are talking about a guy in high school who was treated like an adult. The reverence that adults and young people have for him in his home time is special.”
NFL Draft Bible Scouting Report: Mitchell boasts both experience all over the offensive formation and a well-rounded pool of abilities. The Virginia Tech tight end routinely lines up in the slot, out wide, in-line, H-back and even in the backfield. What’s more, he returned punts for the Hokies late in the 2020 season. Mitchell is an adequate athlete with solid movement skills. His top speed is sufficient and he has above-average lateral movement skills. As a receiver, Mitchell has consistently proven himself a reliable option at the catch point with excellent hands who uses his large frame to shield the ball from defenders. He also has impressive ball-tracking skills and body control. As a blocker, the Hokies star plays with a high motor. He employs leg drive, leverage and a wide base to manufacture power. Mitchell has sufficient grip strength and mirroring ability to sustain blocks. Moreover, he is an adequate lead blocker thanks to his movement skills. Mitchell excels in zone blocking schemes and has the awareness to pick up delayed blitzers in pass protection.
Daniel Bellinger, San Diego State
Daniel Bellinger, San Diego State
Measureables: 6-4 7/8, 253 pounds. 10 1/8 hands. 4.63 40, 4.44 shuttle.
Stats: Bellinger saved his best for last. The team captain caught 31 passes for 357 yards (11.5 average) and two touchdowns as a senior. During his final three years, he caught 67 passes for 761 yards and five scores.
Deeper Stats: Bellinger had zero drops (0.0 percent), one reception on passes thrown 20-plus yards downfield and averaged 9.1 YAC per catch, according to Pro Football Focus. Among draft-eligible tight ends with 40 targets, he was tied for first in drop percentage and third in YAC. According to Sports Info Solutions, he ranked sixth with 2.2 yards per pass route, 11th with 8.2 yards per target and 18th with a blown-block rate on running plays of 1.3 percent. In its total points metric, he was sixth on a per-block basis.
Personal Touch: His receiving production, and a strong Scouting Combine, helped his draft prospects. “I think I’ve been under the radar a little bit,” Bellinger told The San Diego Union Tribune. “Everybody just saw me as a blocking tight end. … “Some teams were not sure about if I could run and about my routes and ability to catch and things like that. I was able to show that at the workout.”
He almost became a third-generation member of the Navy.
“Very close,” Bellinger told The East Village Times. “I, definitely, had a tough time trying to decide. My grandpa was on my phone every day trying to push me to go to the Naval Academy. Both were great opportunities – to go to San Diego State or the Naval Academy – so I was blessed to have both. I was very close to going to the Naval Academy, but I couldn’t really beat the weather in San Diego, and it was close to home.”
NFL Draft Bible Scouting Report: Desirable size and length at six-foot-six 255-pounds. Bellinger was used heavily as a blocker, at San Diego State, he comes off the ball with good pad level. Keeps himself square to defenders as a blocker and attacks their chest. Works to the second level well, keeps his eyes in a good spot. Finishes blocks with aggression at times. Showed off good tackle breaking ability after the catch, worked his off-hand against defenders. Solid hands, catches the easy ones.
Cole Turner, Nevada
Measureables: 6-6 1/2, 249 pounds. 9 3/4 hands. 4.76 40, 4.41 shuttle.
Stats: A receiver-to-tight end convert, Turner posted dominant production with 101 receptions and 19 touchdowns in 20 games at his new home. As a senior, he caught 62 passes for 677 yards (10.9 average) and 10 touchdowns.
Deeper Stats: Turner had three drops (4.6 percent), five receptions on passes thrown 20-plus yards downfield and averaged 3.0 YAC per catch, according to Pro Football Focus. According to Sports Info Solutions, he ranked 17th with 1.6 yards per pass route, 19th with 7.1 yards per target and first with a blown-block rate on running plays of 0.0 percent. In its total points metric, he was 11th on a per-block basis.
Personal Touch: Turner put on about 30 pounds in switching positions. “It was an adjustment at points,” he told The Nevada Sagebrush. “I never put my hand in the dirt and blocked before. But once I put the work in and practiced, I felt comfortable blocking and trusted myself… I always knew I could make plays, that’s never been in question.”
The switch came because of the pandemic. “It’s pretty funny, actually, because that was during COVID,” Turner told Nevada Sports Net. “I was gaining weight. I was already a pretty big guy, same height. But I just kept gaining weight and I started getting past like 230 (pounds) and (Nevada director of strength and conditioning Jordon) Simmons called me one day and he’s, like, ‘What do you think about playing tight end?’ I was, like, ‘I’ll do anything to get on the field more. I was all for it.’ Coach (Jay) Norvell thankfully gave me an opportunity, and it’s really worked out for everyone.”
Turner’s height made him a red-zone threat. “The red area is definitely where I make a lot of my money, that’s for sure. I’ve been able to pride myself on my ability to score touchdowns,” he told The Draft Network.
NFL Draft Bible Scouting Report: Long F tight end who lines up in the slot and occasionally out wide and in line. Turner is prolific in contested catch situations where he adjusts to passes out of his frame. Combining his length and strong hands make for a very big catch radius. Turner has a good feel for sitting down in open spaces against zone coverage and making himself available for the quarterback. He is a capable positional blocker when asked to take on linebackers or defensive backs.
Jake Ferguson, Wisconsin
Jake Ferguson, Wisconsin
Measureables: 6-4 7/8, 250 pounds. 9 3/4 hands. 4.73 40, 4.48 shuttle.
Stats: Ferguson delivered four years of excellent production for the run-first Badgers. He caught 145 passes for 1,618 yards (11.2 average) and 13 touchdowns. As a senior, he hauled in 46 passes for 450 yards (9.8 average) and three touchdowns. He was a three-time all-Big Ten pick and broke Lee Evans’ school record of 39 consecutive games with a reception by a whopping eight games.
Deeper Stats: Ferguson had one drop (2.3 percent), one reception on passes thrown 20-plus yards downfield and averaged 5.0 YAC per catch, according to Pro Football Focus. While that YAC total might not seem great, he forced 10 missed tackles – second-most in the draft class. According to Sports Info Solutions, he ranked 12th with 1.8 yards per pass route, 19th with 7.1 yards per target and 13th with a blown-block rate on running plays of 0.9 percent. In its total points metric, he was second on a per-block basis.
Personal Touch: Ferguson is the grandson of Badgers legend Barry Alvarez. “I grew up a Badger,” Ferguson said. “Growing up around here, I wasn’t ready for it to end. Knowing that I’m a part of this, knowing that I could possibly do something special here is awesome to me. One of my main goals is to do something that we’ve never done, do something that I’ve never seen as long as I’ve been alive here.”
Older brother Joe also played for the Badgers, and his father was a linebacker for Nebraska. The Ferguson boys had a blocking dummy in their play room as kids. “They’ve been going to bowl games since they were babies,” Alvarez said. “It was just part of how they were brought up. It was part of their makeup. That’s part of their identity.”
At Wisconsin, he blossomed as a leader as well as a player. “He puts it on tape,” quarterback Graham Mertz told Madison.com. “And even if the ball doesn’t go to him on it, maybe he’s the second or third (read) of my progression, he’s still winning on a double team, which is pretty special. I’ve thrown with (Kansas City Chief tight end Travis) Kelce, I’ve seen guys like in the league that are playing and he moves right there with them.”
NFL Draft Bible Scouting Report: Ferguson is an experienced and competitive tight end prospect who can align in-line and as an H-back. Ferguson excels as a run blocker, whether it is zone or gap/power, the offense can trust in him to rarely lose a rep due to his technique and elite competitive toughness. He’s best as an in-line blocker, positioning himself well with a wide stance and low pad level while squaring up to his target. He regularly shoots his hands into the defender’s chest and has the grip strength to sustain his block as he drives his legs to consistently create displacement. Ferguson adds value in the passing game by finding holes versus zone coverages and in the red zone, where his catch radius is very beneficial for quarterbacks. He possesses sticky and reliable hands as he can make catches above his head and below his knees.
Gerrit Prince, UAB
Measureables: 6-4 1/2, 241 pounds. 9 5/8 hands. 4.76 40, 4.46 shuttle.
Stats: As a sixth-year senior, Prince took advantage with 36 receptions for 699 yards (19.4 average) and 10 touchdowns. His per-catch average led the nation’s tight ends. In three previous seasons with the Blazers, he caught only 14 passes.
Deeper Stats: Prince had three drops (8.6 percent), six receptions on passes thrown 20-plus yards downfield and a draft class-high 11.3 YAC per catch and 3.14 yards per pass route, according to Pro Football Focus. SIS did not have blocking data.
Personal Touch: Prince was an unranked receiver recruit out of high school according to 247Sports. To continue his football dreams, he attended and played at Butler Community College. After his two seasons of juco ball, he still was unranked by 247 Sports. He chose UAB and, finally, became a star by taking full advantage of the COVID year.
NFL Draft Bible Scouting Report: Out of his release, Prince is extremely quick off the line of scrimmage to get up and into his progression. As a blocker, he demonstrates power and maximum effort at all times. Showed a well-rounded ability to block in any scenario. He is a solid, raw athlete with obvious upside to develop because of his speed out of the blocks. Explosive as a lead blocker to clear running lanes. Offers yards after the catch ability because he runs with speed and power, with a will to not go down. He is versatile because of his athleticism and was used a lot on the move in the backfield.
Armani Rogers, Ohio
Measureables: 6-5 3/8, 233 pounds. 9 3/4 hands. 4.58 40.
Stats: Rogers started 24 games at quarterback in five seasons for UNLV and Ohio. As a freshman in 2017, he rushed for a career-high 780 yards and eight touchdowns. In 2021, he completed a career-high 65.3 percent of his passes and added 552 rushing yards and seven scores. For his career, he averaged 5.5 yards per carry with 27 touchdowns.
Deeper Stats: Rogers had no pertinent analytical stats. He had a 99-yard touchdown run in 2021, the longest in FBS history by a quarterback.
Personal Touch: Rogers started his collegiate career as a quarterback at UNLV and ended it at the East-West Shrine Bowl back in Las Vegas with a new position.
“I felt like I could go out there, with my athleticism, and go out and compete at a high level at any position,” Rogers told Blue Chip Scouting. “[I] just had to put the effort into it…I’ve been training my butt off playing tight end, trying to master my craft in the short amount of time I did have before the all-star game…that was the biggest thing, trying to master everything. … I definitely need to work on run blocking, pass blocking, but I’m definitely physical enough to be able to do. I just need to understand how to do it more so.”
Rogers’ father, Sam, was a linebacker who played for the Buffalo Bills (seven seasons), San Diego Chargers (one) and Atlanta Falcons (two). His 10-year career included 30 sacks and seven forced fumbles. Said Sam to The Las Vegas Sun: “Armani started playing football around 8 years old. He would always stay with me and try to mimic everything I was doing. He was a loving kid. Outgoing, very polite, quiet spoken. It was a football family, but it was something all of them naturally decided to do. I never pushed it on them.”
Sports Info Solutions Scouting Report: In the pass game, Rogers will be most effective when split out. Due to his lack of bulk and inexperience, Rogers will struggle getting off the LOS against physicality early on and will benefit from some space. He shows explosiveness in his get-off and can win with quickness or using his length, depending on his opponent. Rogers runs his routes with sufficient tempo, and his savvy should increase rapidly as he gets reps at the position. He showed in the Shrine Bowl that he already has a feel for sitting down in the zone.
Austin Allen, Nebraska
Measureables: 6-7 5/8, 253 pounds. 9 1/2 hands. 4.83 40; 4.26 shuttle.
Stats: A full-time starter for the first time as a senior, Allen set career highs with 38 receptions, 602 yards (15.8 average) and two touchdowns as a senior to be voted the Big Ten’s tight end of the year. Despite his imposing height, he caught only three touchdowns in 44 games.
Deeper Stats: Allen had one drop (2.6 percent), one reception on passes thrown 20-plus yards downfield and averaged 7.0 YAC per catch, according to Pro Football Focus. According to Sports Info Solutions, he ranked 20th with 1.1 yard per pass route, eighth with 8.6 yards per target and sixth with a blown-block rate on running plays of 0.4 percent. In its total points metric, he was third on a per-block basis.
Personal Touch: Allen figured basketball would be his ticket in athletics. He was an all-state player who got some Division I looks. However, it dawned on him that 6-foot-8 in basketball isn’t incredibly tall.
“Dalton Peters was one of my teammates in high school and he was probably the hardest worker I ever met,” Allen told Hail Varsity. “His dad was a coach. It was after the first game of the season, I had two interceptions and three total touchdowns versus the team and they pulled me aside and said, ‘You’re going to play college football.’ I shrugged them off and said, ‘You’re crazy, I’m going to play college basketball.’
“Midway through the season I started getting letters from these schools, and I went back to them and said, ‘You guys are wizards. How’d you know that?’ But they saw something I didn’t, and I had a pretty good junior year that led me to the offers.”
NFL Draft Bible Scouting Report: Very big tight end who uses his body to shield off defenders and make contested catches. Allen shows awareness at the sideline to stay in bounds and can adjust for passes behind him. He makes tough catches over the middle despite getting hit hard, holding on through contact. After the catch, he lowers his shoulder and is willing to fight for extra yards. Due to long strides, his speed is solid for his size. Allen aligns in-line, at H-Back and in the slot. He is an efficient down blocker, driving piles with a flat back.
John FitzPatrick, Georgia
Measureables: 6-7 1/8, 262 pounds. 10 1/4 hands. DNP testing (feet).
Stats: FitzPatrick was mostly an extra offensive lineman during four seasons with the Bulldogs. In 38 career games that included 13 starts, he caught 17 passes for 200 yards (13.8 average) and one touchdown. He caught a career-high 10 passes and scored his only touchdown as a junior.
Deeper Stats: FitzPatrick had zero drops (0.0 percent), zero receptions on passes thrown 20-plus yards downfield and averaged 3.0 YAC per catch, according to Pro Football Focus. In fact, he didn’t have a deep catch in his career. According to Sports Info Solutions, he ranked 21st with 1.0 yard per pass route, 23rd with 5.9 yards per target and 21st with a blown-block rate of 1.9 percent on running plays. In its total points metric, he was fifth on a per-block basis.
Personal Touch: FitzPatrick played through his entire senior season with a broken bone in each foot. “Because I wanted to play,” FitzPatrick said at pro day. “If I can ever play through an injury I’m going to. It definitely slowed me down. I couldn’t run the way I wanted to or cut. It affected my game in a lot of ways. But I was fine as long as I could be on the field.”
In-season surgery wasn’t an option. “If I was able to go, I was going to go, no matter what I was playing through. You see how special of a team it is, you want to be on the field contributing any way that you can, and I was able to do so. I was proud to be a part of the team and how we closed it out.”
Sports Info Solutions Scouting Report: FitzPatrick projects as an ideal No. 2 blocking complement to a more prolific receiving lead TE option. He’ll need to improve his receiving abilities, which may come with increased opportunity. His lack of athleticism limits his ceiling, but his blocking prowess gives him a high floor at the next level. He’s been a mainstay on the Georgia field goal units in his career, should be a good upback on kickoff return, and his effort level and decent speed could lead to coverage opportunities, as well.
Lucas Krull, Pittsburgh
Measureables: 6-6 1/8, 253 pounds. 9 3/8 hands. 4.63 40, 4.38 shuttle.
Stats: Krull capped a nomadic career by catching 37 passes for 443 yards (12.0 average) and six touchdowns in 2021.
Deeper Stats: Krull had five drops (12.5 percent), two receptions on passes thrown 20-plus yards downfield and averaged a woeful 2.9 YAC per catch, according to Pro Football Focus. According to Sports Info Solutions, he ranked 21st with 1.0 yard per pass route, 17th with 7.4 yards per target and seventh with a blown-block rate on running plays of 0.6 percent. In its total points metric, he was 11th on a per-block basis.
Personal Touch: Much like Hayden Hurst, who starred at South Carolina before being drafted by the Baltimore Ravens, Krull was a pitcher (at Arkansas) who lost the ability to throw strikes. So, he gave up baseball to play football. He spent the 2018 and 2019 seasons at Florida before transferring to Pittsburgh. He sat out most of 2020 with a knee injury before he became a standout for the Panthers in 2021.
“I’ve had a meeting with about 25 [NFL] teams, and I think I’ve told my story 25 times,” Krull told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “It’s been awesome just getting to share that unique story.”
Sports Info Solutions Scouting Report: Krull was drafted in the 34th round of the 2018 MLB Draft as a pitcher by the San Francisco Giants. He’s a good athlete with a big, solid frame for the position. He plays hard and competes, but just seems to lack some overall toughness in the run game from time to time.
Curtis Hodges, Arizona State
Measureables: 6-7 3/4, 257 pounds. 9 5/8 hands. 4.85 40, 4.28 shuttle.
Stats: Hodges had a breakout final season. After catching 16 balls during his first four seasons, which were plagued by injuries and COVID, he caught 20 passes for 374 yards (187 average) and two touchdowns as a fifth-year senior.
Deeper Stats: Hodges had two drops (9.1 percent), six receptions on passes thrown 20-plus yards downfield and averaged 6.3 YAC per catch, according to Pro Football Focus. According to Sports Info Solutions, he ranked 12th with 1.8 yard per pass route, first with 12.0 yards per target and first with a blown-block rate on running plays of 0.0 percent. In its total points metric, he was first on a per-block basis.
Personal Touch: At his height, Hodges’ primary focus growing up in Mesa, Ariz., was basketball. However, the summer before his senior season, he turned his focus to football. He was recruited as a receiver and bounced back and forth between receiver and tight end for the start of his collegiate career.
Coach Herm Edwards named Hodges the team’s most improved player. “I don’t know what everybody else has done this year, but I know I had a pretty decent year. I put together a good couple games, and so compared to everybody else I think I stand out a little bit as far as length, height and speed,” Hodges said at the Scouting Combine.
NFL.com Scouting Report: Pass-catching tight end with intriguing blend of length and athleticism. Hodges’ failure to live up to his potential at Arizona State was partially due to a slew of nagging injuries that kept him off the field. He’s a legitimate seam threat with open-field separation speed and an expansive catch radius but he will need to improve as a route runner and blocker to be viewed as an NFL tight end. Hodges’ injury history will be a concern, but his athletic traits and size could make him a candidate for a practice squad.
Grant Calcaterra, SMU
Measureables: 6-3 7/8, 241 pounds. 10 hands. 4.62 40, 4.30 shuttle.
Stats: Calcaterra retired after the 2019 season, his third year with Oklahoma, due to concussions. After sitting out 2020, he enrolled at SMU and caught 38 passes for 465 yards (12.2 average) and four touchdowns in 2021.
Deeper Stats: Calcaterra had two drops (5.0 percent), one reception on passes thrown 20-plus yards downfield and averaged 3.8 YAC per catch, according to Pro Football Focus. According to Sports Info Solutions, he ranked 16th with 1.7 yards per pass route and 7.6 yards per target. While he was tied for first with a blown-block rate on running plays of 0.0 percent, he was 22nd on a per-block basis in its total-points metric.
Personal Touch: During his year away from football, which was spurred by three concussions, Calcaterra pursued a career as a firefighter and EMT.
“I’ve always kind of liked (firefighting) since I was a kid,” he told USA Today. “I knew I didn’t want to sit around and answer emails, that’s just not my gig. I like to be outside, I like to be around people.”
Calcaterra’s path to this draft began when watching the 2020 draft. “Man, I’m better than some of these dudes,” he told himself. “I’m just as good as some of these guys getting drafted.”
And what of the potential consequences? “I just have an extreme passion for the game and I know, just like a knee injury, it’s going to have an effect on me later down the road,” Calcaterra told Fox 4 News. “I just love playing football and I’m going to give it my best shot and deal with what happens later.”
NFL Draft Bible Scouting Report: Calcaterra offers excellent blocking upside because of his size, technique and effort. He has the strength to create leverage as a run blocker. He uses good leg drive to create holes and gaps for runners to run through or off of. He was used in a multitude of ways for the Mustangs, mainly as an in-line tight end or in the slot. Shows fairly good short-area quickness out of his release. Over the middle, he can be a solid safety valve option underneath.