Meet The 2022 NFL Draft TE Class

Photo: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

A position that’s progressed unlike any other in football over the last few decades, the precedent of general managers to insert impact in-line weapons has become an overbearing headline each and every offseason for teams lacking such. With the rapid development of players entering the league bigger, faster, and stronger than ever, the necessary scouting involved with selecting the ideal prospect with projectability both as an impact player in the run and the pass has become a game-changing asset to offenses around the league.

A position from the dawn of football initially used as an extension of the offensive line, the tight end has evolved into a spot offensive coordinators have placed their best athletes. Gone are the oversized shoulder pads to fit the lineman-like frames for the tight ends of old, as Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates, and Vernon Davis have made way for Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, George Kittle, and first-year talent Kyle Pitts to introduce a new, dynamic flavor into the position that has revolutionized the offensive game.

The 2022 positional class is a deep and exciting pool of players scattered across the country. From Power-5 blue-bloods to mid-major standouts, here is a look into the top tight-end prospects to keep an eye on as the college football season moves into the meat of its schedule. 

Jahleel Billingsley, Alabama (No. 41 overall in TDN100)

Take the crimson helmet away from Billingsley and he still would represent the top tight end talent college football has to offer. While Billingsley’s role has diminished slightly with the arrival of Cameron Latu, his projectability sets him apart when presented with his above-average route-running and pro-ready frame at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds. 

A small note to keep in mind when considering a prospect’s projectability; it’s not about everything a player does during his time on campus. For scouts, a player’s production matters of course, but a player’s ceiling is usually not reached during the ages of 18-21. For a talent in Billingsley where his production has been muffled by the talent around him, keeping his projection on the horizon is key moving into the winter months.

While he has loads of room to grow, including in his functional strength to handle bigger bodies in the run game, Billingsley’s ability to run routes from an in-line position will welcome loads of success whenever he declares. With long strides and fluid feet, Billingsley is an exciting talent to watch who will only continue to improve as Alabama eyes its next national title. 

Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina (No. 87 in TDN100)

With 13 catches, 327 yards, and six touchdowns in his last TWO games, it’s safe to say he “Likely” put his skeptics to bed after a relatively slow start to his senior campaign. 

See what I did there? 

Arguably the most pro-ready prospect of any tight end in the class with his elite offensive ability as a threat in the pass game, his speed, powerful hands, and breakaway ability has drawn the masses to Conway, S.C. where one of college football’s most high-octane offenses calls home. With an innate ability to extend in close confines as he works over the middle of the field, his outstanding YAC ability will immediately translate to the next level in an offense that gets tight ends in space. If he’s able to add muscle to his frame without decreasing his functional strength, Likely, coupled with a quarterback who is able to pick apart the second level of a defense, could be a match made in heaven. 

Trey McBride, Colorado State (No. 92 in TDN100)

Built in the mold of Kittle, McBride aligns all over the field for the Rams offense. With 15 more catches (42) than the second-highest total among all qualifying tight ends (Likely, 22), McBride is a nightmare to game plan against with his ability to align outside the hip of the tackle, in the slot, or out wide as a Z-receiver. Couple his nastiness in the run and fluidity outside the hashes as a playmaker in space and McBride has rapidly become one of my favorite prospects in the entire class. 

Don’t fall victim to helmet scouting, McBride is a stud. With seemingly an unlimited ceiling as a prospect, he should enjoy immediate success at the next level similar to that of Mark Andrews out of Oklahoma a few seasons back. 

Jalen Wydermyer, Texas A&M (No. 60 in TDN100)

With 14 touchdowns in a tick over two full seasons, Wydermyer has quickly arrived onto the NFL prospect circuit as a player to keep a keen eye on as we move into the spring. He’s a sneaky study, as his production has been minimal in his junior year. But with an “NBA-like” frame according to TDN’s own Jordan Reid, at 6-foot-5 and 265 pounds, Wydermyer is a load to get around in the run and a hefty ask to cover in space. By no means is Wydermyer comparable to that of Likely with vertical quickness, but his craftiness and ability to shield defenders at any level of the defense will prove to be a skill beyond his years when facing similarly-built defenders at the next level. Used as a red-zone iso-target throughout his career at A&M, each of his six touchdown receptions last fall came in the red area, an attribute to just how dominant he can be when restricted to a phone booth.

Charlie Kolar, Iowa State (NR in TDN100)

Entering the fall, there wasn’t a more enticing tight end prospect than Kolar in college football. A 6-foot-6 blend of elite ball skills and a refined game as a blocker, Kolar’s stock has taken a gut punch early this fall with the performances of the aforementioned talents above. While his production has remained consistent, totaling 17 catches for 238 yards in four games played, I wouldn’t expect his name to remain in the shadows for too much longer. He’s everything the pro game looks for in an immediate impact tight end.

Sean Dykes, Memphis (NR in TDN100)

In his sixth season at Memphis, Dykes has remained a relatively unknown prospect of sorts early this fall as the next offensive talent out of Memphis to make a run up draft boards. The Tigers’ No. 2 weapon behind Calvin Austin, the athletically-built Dykes has been a bit of a roller-coaster from a production standpoint. While he recorded more than 300 yards and two touchdowns combined in his first three weeks, a Week 2 performance against Mississippi State saw him record just one catch for seven yards. And sure, you could attribute his lack of success against the Bulldogs to the step up in competition from Arkansas State and UTSA, but talent is talent, and Dykes has regained his form recording a touchdown reception in each of the last two weeks with nine combined catches. Currently third in the country behind Likely and McBride in total receiving yards among tight ends, Dykes is a name to put a red dot beside as a late-blooming talent.

Honorable Mention: Cade Otton, Washington

Written By:

Ryan Fowler

Staff Writer

Feature Writer for The Draft Network. Former Staff Writer for the Washington Football Team. Multiple years of coverage within the NFL and NBA.

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