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Film Room: Drafting A Tight End; The Giants Have Options

The New York Giants have never been this thin at the Tight End position and while fans dream of Bavaro, Shockey, and Boss, the house is officially…empty.

Evan Engram did not receive a new contract and we knew that was coming. Kyle Rudolph, who was only signed a year ago never seemed to regain his speed after his foot injury. He was also cut…but we knew that was coming, especially with the price tag he carried. If healthy and affordable, maybe Rudolph is in New York mentoring a rookie Tight End.

Kaden Smith seemed to be forgotten in the Joe Judge regime and had difficulties passing the physical in this postseason. He was released last week and no one saw that coming.

The Giants are trying to rebuild a roster with a glaring hole at a very important position. Sure they have some camp bodies and the recent signing of Ricky Seals-Jones who has played on four teams on his way to a fifth. But let’s face facts, the 2022 NFL draft is stocked with Tight Ends and the Giants are bringing one home.

Trey McBride: Colorado St. – 6’4 250 lbs.

McBride, the 2021 Mackey Award Winner will most likely be the 1st Tight End off the board in 2022. He is a very realistic prospect for the Giants if he makes it out of the 2nd round.

McBride models his game after Niner’s superstar, George Kittle, however, I find his style of play much closer to Zach Ertz, compact and technical. McBride is a true pass-catching threat as he was the main receiver at Colorado St. McBride is a 4.6 guy, though he didn’t run at the combine.

Giants: McBride could be Daniel Jones’ best friend as the new offensive line is built and learns to play together. He’s a willing blocker but can improve here with a wider base and controlled technique. He has great hands, pulling down 2000 yards and 9 TDs at Colorado St. 2021 stats: 90 rec | 1121 Yards |1 TD

McBride would instantly make the offense more dynamic and force safeties to account for him on every play. He is a day one starter. Round: Late 2/Early 3

Isaiah Likely: Coastal Carolina – 6’4 240 lbs.

The Coastal Carolina Tight End is dynamic. He doesn’t play against top-tier talent and it shouldn’t hurt his draft stock. He is much different than any other TE on this list. Likely continues to improve every year, has exceptional hands and elite speed. He can run past Corners & Safeties. 2021 stats: 52 rec | 816 yards | 10 TDS.

Giants: With two dynamic coaches, (Dabol and Kafka) one would think they would love his versatility. He can line up anywhere on the line and succeed. His size could be a concern when asked to handle bigger ends and backers one on one. Likely is freaky athletic, similar to Evan Engram. He excels in vertical routes but is not overly physical at the point of attack.

In the right offense, he will dominate as a TE/WR and has a knack of getting behind a single high safety and finding the endzone. He has a wide catch radius & tracks the ball better than anyone in the class. Round: 3

Jeremy Ruckert: Ohio State – 6’5 252 lbs.

Another Jeremy…maybe that’s a sign. Ruckert is not featured at Ohio State and his QB doesn’t have the best accuracy for mid-field throws. He was often overlooked or missed on wide-open routes crossing mid-field. With a bad scheme for a Tight End, Ruckert pulled down 615 yards | 12 TDS over 4 years. Only 11% of the pass plays targeted the TE.

Giants: When Joe Schoen was with the Bills, he drafted Dawson Knox in the third round in 2019. Knox had never scored in college, yet found the end zone nine times in 2021 for the Bills. Like Knox, Ruckert is athletic and will be a better pro than a college player. Giants fans will love his attitude, he never takes a play off. Good blocker (9 big-time blocks-PFF).

Ruckert excels at the contested ball and has been called a vacuum. In the passing game, he has a knack for finding a soft spot in the middle of the defense. Round: 3

Jelani Woods: Virgina – 6’7 252 lbs.

Jelani Woods has swag. He’s big, long, and has some attitude. This Virginia Tight End scored 8 TD’s in 10 games in 2021. He adjusts to the ball well and boasts a huge catch radius. 2021 stats: 44 rec | 600 yards | 8 TDs.

Giants: While his route running isn’t the greatest and he needs to work on his release at the NFL level, he has a very high ceiling. Great hands and has “yards after the catch” ability. Because Jones has seen success with deeper passes, Woods is a huge target that flourishes in the deep middle of the field.

I’ve seen safeties literally bounce off Woods when trying to drop a hit on him. He runs guys over and breaks numerous tackles. With an NFL weight program, Woods could be 265 and a load for defensive backs to tackle. Round: 3

Jake Furguson: Wisconson – 6’5 244 lbs.

Jake Ferguson has 1618 career yards & delivered great production over 4 years. The Wisconsin TE possesses decent straight-line speed and can play in a Two-Tight End set or in the slot. He excelled in low-frequency passing offense. 2021 stats, had 46 rec | 450 yards.

Giants: Coach Kafka was instrumental in building the Mahomes/Kelce connection, and could develop Ferguson into a dynamic, “go-to” target in the Giant’s new offense. He is great at Y.A.C. (5+ yards) runs thru tackles & athletic enough to run by safeties. The Giants need a Tight End who adjusts to the ball well & has natural ball skills. You will not find him jumping up unnecessarily for routine balls. ONLY 8 drops over 4 years.

He will need to add strength & weight to take on Backers & Defensive Ends. His blocking needs to improve to be a dual-threat in the NFL. Round: 3/4

Greg Dulcich: UCLA – 6’4 250 lbs.

Dulcich has gotten better every year wearing the powder blue and gold. He has a high ceiling and NFL coaches will love this guy. 2021 stats: 43 rec | 725 yards | 5 TD.

Giants: Dulcich is pro-ready which will give Giants’ new offensive coordinator options. He is tough and athletic. Due to the lack of resources at the position, I can see the Giants drafting Dulcich and exploiting mismatches early in the season, giving Jones a security blanket.

The UCLA Tight End has deceptive speed and is a monster at Yards after the Catch. Dulcich thrives at the longer mid-range catches and averages 12 yards a reception. Round: 4

Jalen Wydermeyer: Texas A&M – 6’5 255 lbs.

Wydermeyer started the season as the Number 1 TE in college football. Most scouts were looking for a huge jump from 2020 to 2021; however, he plateaued. He had the highest number of drops in the draft class with 8 drops in 2021. Scouts are questioning his focus. 2021 stats: 40 rec | 515 yds | 4 yds.

Giants: Wydermeyer is a bit of a head-scratcher. He has all the tools to be a great pro, the question is do the Giants want to draft a player where his technique and focus need to be cleaned up. With five picks in the first three rounds, the Giants are looking for players that start fast. Wydermeyer is raw and may not fit the Giants’ needs.

Where he excels…is with the ball in his hands, he can be dynamic in the open field, will carry defenders, and is expected to have a positive YAC. Round: 4

Charlie Kolar: Iowa State – 6’6 260

Kolar is a big body. He is not dynamic as Likely or athletic as McBride, but Kolar’s size and length can push him up some team’s boards. He is a dominant blocker and owned the position for Iowa State with an eye-popping 164 rec | 2,148 yards | 22 touchdowns over 4 years.

Giants: Kolar excels in the classroom with a 4.0 in mechanical engineering, so mastering an NFL playbook should be easy. Kolar doesn’t show an explosion off the line, so I don’t know what type of separation he will get on NFL safeties and backers. He’s very similar to Kaden Smith and two regimes couldn’t find a way to use his skills.

Kolar isn’t quick-twitch, or shifty. He’s not going to get skinny, and slip out into the flat or outjump a safety for a contested ball. He does have great hands, can post up low, and box out defenders. His size makes him an instant RedZone threat. Round: 5

Cade Otten: Washington- 6’6 240 lbs.

Otton does not have the production of some of the other Tight Ends in the 2022 NFL draft class. His most productive year was in 2019 | 344 yards | 2 TDS.

Giants: Otten will need a lot of work becoming a starting inline Tight End in the NFL. His blocking is a major weakness. He is not strong at the point of attack and gets pushed back into the backfield. A new and somewhat inexperienced Giants O-line will need all the help it can get. He can be a bit robotic on routes, but a great option for TE2.

Dabol does pull lineman frequently, Otten has experience pulling and kicking out at Washington. With the Giants limited for big-name Free Agents, Big Blue needs a Tight End that can open up holes for Barkley. If Otten is available in later rounds maybe the Giants look at him for the TE2 position. Round: 6