2022 NFL Draft TE Guide: Former GM Grades Trey McBride, Jelani Woods, Greg Dulcich, Isaiah Likely

2022 NFL Draft TE Guide: Former GM Grades Trey McBride, Jelani Woods, Greg Dulcich, Isaiah Likely article feature image

Getty Images. Pictured: 2022 NFL Draft TE prospects Trey McBride, Jelani Woods

In special collaboration with the Action Network, former NFL general manager and team executive Randy Mueller breaks down his 2022 NFL Draft prospect evaluations for his top four tight ends (in order), including Trey McBride and Jelani Woods.

2022 NFL Draft TE Evals

Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina

by Randy Mueller

At 6-foot-4.5 and 245 pounds, Likely checks the boxes for size. The question some are wrestling with, though, is speed.

On the field he runs very well, can stretch defenses and even had a 99-yard touchdown reception this past season. But on his pro day, he ran a 4.8 for several NFL scouts, thus the dilemma.

Do we go with what we saw on tape? Or do we go with the timed 40 speed?

Likely’s involvement in the passing game at Coastal made him the focal point of the offense. His 59 catches for 912 yards this past season gave him production on paper, but it’s his potential that I loved on tape.

I had zero issue with his speed. In fact, I estimated that he played at an equivalent 4.55 speed despite what he ran on the clock. Maybe it's the fact that he can change speeds during his routes, which is very unusual for a tight end, that makes me think he’s fast enough. Deception is half the battle.

Likely is raw and unrefined, but his fluid athleticism is not easily found at this position. He gets in and out of breaks with an excellent pad level and quick feet, and can separate vs. man coverage. He has also shown agility, is light on his feet after the catch, and it's not easy for defenders to get him on the ground.

Aligned as a slot receiver, Likely is going to be a matchup nightmare for defenses in the red zone and on third downs. He can extend out away from his body and expand his catch radius. He collects jump balls and contested targets with the ease of a basketball player reaching for a rebound. He shows instincts for finding the soft spots in coverage as well, so combining this feel with his skill set makes him the top-rated pass catcher in my book.

Likely can get himself open without the scheme of the offense having to be the impetus for that task.

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An underrated part of his game will be his perimeter blocking skills. He’s tough, willing and stays connected to defenders on the second level with his long arms and continually moving his feet. His size allows him to cover up smaller defensive backs and even linebackers. This will allow downfield runs in the running game, and the more he develops, he should become adequate as an in-line and attached blocker from the more traditional alignment.

I really don’t see much not to like about Likely except that he’s not a house-hold name — yet — thus why he's my top-rated TE who I would have no problem drafting in Round 2.

Trey McBride, Colorado State

by Randy Mueller

There is no denying the production of McBride. Six of his 12 games last season resulted in 100+ receiving yards. He worked in a college system that ran him on many over routes and crossing targets of which he makes catches of all varieties.

At 6-foot-4 and 246 pounds, he can line up as a fullback or an H-back as well. He has very good hands, can catch outside his frame and the confidence is evident on third downs.

He could become a go-to guy in the mold of Ravens TE Mark Andrews in style.

I don’t think McBride is quite the athlete of a Likely, nor does he qualify as a guy to get open on his own. I don't see that sudden ability to separate out of a break vs. man, but he does have an instinctive feel vs. zone coverage to find soft spots. The scheme will have to free him up, even though he has 4.55 speed.

McBride should be able to contribute early on in his career, but his ceiling will need to be expanded to put up numbers at the next level, like he did in college.

Jelani Woods, Virginia

by Randy Mueller

As a graduate transfer from Oklahoma State, Woods had the most productive season of his college career in 2021. His 44 receptions (including eight touchdowns) were nice, but it's his 6-foot-7, 259-pound frame that sets him apart.

His wing span gives new meaning to the task of making contested catches look easy. The comparison for me is with Donald Parham, the Chargers' raw but rather large TE. As they say in the game: Woods is who you want getting off the bus first.

Woods makes this list as a projection to being a matchup favorite for any QB when they get in the red zone. He might be able to be covered, but defenders will have a hard time stopping him from making a catch if it arrives with high and away ball placement.

Eight touchdowns would not be out of the question in Year 1 as a pro, either. He is easy to find over the middle and is open even if a defender is nearby.

Woods' weakness will be his release from the line and avoiding a defender vs. bump technique along his long striding gate, which can be thrown off balance when his feet get strung out and are not under him.

I could surely see a team add this red zone skill set starting in Round 3.

Greg Dulcich, UCLA

by Randy Mueller

The steady Dulcich is best measured as above average at most tasks required of a TE, but not great at any one thing.

He catches well, extends hands away from his body and has a nice feel vs. zone coverage. His football IQ is prevalent and he is very aware of down and distance on his third down routes. He is tough, willing to go over the middle and make catches in traffic and gives himself up for the sake of the team. He can be evasive to defenders after the catch, but also runs hard and can break arm tackles in space after securing the ball. He plays to his timed 40 speed of 4.70.

He’s a one-speed route runner who isn’t the most nifty nor deceptive at the top of his stems. Frankly, he can use scheme help in getting open. He lacks that top-notch burst to separate and is not going to run by anyone with his flat out speed.

As a blocker, he is willing to put his face on targets in the run game and really does a pretty good job as a pass protector. Willingness is half the battle, so I can't question his heart or competitive makeup.

I like Dulcich at the right time in this draft and can surely make a case for him falling in the top 100.

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