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Seahawks 2022 NFL Draft Primer: Tight Ends

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NCAA Football: Colorado State at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Tight end has long been a bugaboo for the Seattle Seahawks.

That is all.

My entire introduction in a single sentence.


As with my previous Primers (QB, RB, WR), today’s article is focused exclusively on players that are listed in the PFF 2022 NFL Draft Guide, v2. And it’s a short list, comprised of 5 players.

Those players, in the order that PFF has them on their Big Board, are:

  1. Jalen Wydermyer (Texas A&M)
  2. Trey McBride (Colorado State)
  3. Jeremy Ruckert (Ohio State)
  4. Cade Otton (Washington)
  5. Isaiah Likely (Coastal Carolina)

Note: Isaiah Likely isn’t actually on PFF’s Big Board, but he is listed in their Draft Guide.

Will the Seahawks use a draft pick on a tight end this year? Good question. But with Colby Parkinson and Tyler Mabry being the only tight ends on the roster right now, Seattle is clearly going to have to address the position. And, although there aren’t A LOT of them, there are some good options in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Let’s dive in.


Isaiah Likely

Position Ranking: n/a | Overall Ranking: n/a | Projection: Fifth Round | Comp: Robert Tonyan

2021 Stat Line: 59 receptions on 77 targets (76.6%) for 912 yards with 12 TDs

PFF’s take:

“(Isaiah) Likely is one heck of a natural receiver. He attacks the ball so well in the air and can create on his own after the catch.”

But ...

“He’s not quite dynamic enough to pass as a receiver and not big enough to be respected as a tight end. He’s a move tight end in a league that doesn’t use them anymore.”

FTR’s take: Isaiah is Likely to be an upgrade at TE3 or TE4 (over Colby Parkinson and/or Tyler Mabry) but PFF rates his physicality as a 3 on a 10-point scale and they put his willingness to block at a 5 so ... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Also, the comparison to Robert Tonyan is a bit of double-edged sword. In 2020, Tonyan scored 10 touchdowns and sort of put the league “on notice” with 52 receptions for 586 yards. That’s a respectable stat line for a tight end. However, his combined stat line for his other 3 seasons is 32 catches for 381 yards with 4 touchdowns.


Trey McBride

Position Ranking: 2 | Overall Ranking: 62 | Projection: Second Round | Comp: Dallas Goedert

2021 Stat Line: 91 receptions on 122 targets (74.6%) for 1,125 yards with 1 TD

PFF’s take:

“McBride wins where so few tight ends do — down the football field. He can get past the linebacker-level swiftly and then presents a massive target over the middle. He can do it all while also being a respectable blocker.”

FTR’s take: I’ve done well over 100 simulations using PFF’s Mock Draft Simulator and McBride has been available when Seattle went on the clock every single time. But, out of those 100+ simulations, I have never seen him slide out of Round 2.

Is tight end a priority for the Seahawks in this year’s NFL Draft? Probably not, but if they strike out in free agency then that could change. And a player like McBride would give Shane Waldron’s offense a dimension it was lacking last season.


Cade Otton

Position Ranking: 4 | Overall Ranking: 102 | Projection: Fifth Round | Comp: Austin Hooper

2021 Stat Line: 29 receptions on 43 targets (65.1%) for 250 yards with 1 TD

PFF’s take:

“Diverse run games will love being able to deploy this guy. Otton has the want, size and technique to be a difference-maker in this regard while also being a respectable receiver.”

FTR’s take: As a UW alum, I love me some Huskies. Especially when PFF grades their physicality as a 9 (out of 10), their ball skills / body control as an 8, and their block willingness as a 10. If only his speed weren’t a 3.


Jeremy Ruckert

Position Ranking: 3 | Overall Ranking: 87 | Projection: Fourth Round | Comp: Blake Bell

2021 Stat Line: 26 receptions on 39 targets (66.7%) for 309 yards with 3 TDs

PFF’s take:

“Ruckert will be coveted because of his work in the run game. He blends security-blanket receiving traits with some bone-crushing run blocks.“

FTR’s take: According to PFF, Ruckert delivered 9 big-time blocks in 2021 and is “built like a block of granite.” Tell me that doesn’t sound like the kind of guy that will get the front office salivating.

Sorry, could resist giving Tyler Alsin a shout-out for one of the more amusing headlines to grace this site.

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Just for fun, here’s a nice one-handed catch by Ruckert on a pass from Justin Fields in 2020:


Jalen Wydermyer

Position Ranking: 1 | Overall Ranking: 60 | Projection: Fourth Round | Comp: Chris Herndon

2021 Stat Line: 40 receptions on 70 targets (57.1%) for 515 yards with 4 TDs

PFF’s take:

“Wydermyer wins with his loose route-running ability. He can run a full route tree for the tight end position and not look out of place, which he pairs with a large catch radius.”

But ..

“Wydermyer isn’t quite a plug-and-play guy. He can make an impact as a receiver to start, but you’re investing in what he can be long term if you draft him.”

Bottom line: “Wydermyer is still a project in a number of ways, but he offers traits you rarely see from a man his size.”

FTR’s take: Wydermyer isn’t fast (PFF gave him a 4 out of 10) and he dropped 8 passes in 2021 (compared to 40 catches). A good position coach might be able to decrease his drops but speed isn’t really something you can teach. He’s obviously worth a Day Three flier, but I’m not sure I’d want to spend an R4 on him unless I didn’t really have another option. But if I could get him with an R5 (or later)? Sign me up.

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Closing thought: Pairing Wydermyer with McBride in a two-tight end set would be fun to see. It won’t happen, of course, but this is the time of year when one can dream.



Bonus Coverage

Size and (approximate) age:

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Rankings and projections:

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Receiving stats:

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Additional statistics:

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PFF subjectiveness:

Highlights

Isaiah Likely

Trey McBride

Cade Otton

Note: This video is from December 2020

Jeremy Ruckert

Jalen Wydermyer