SMU tight end Grant Calcaterra has had a long journey to get to this point of his football career. Originally starting his collegiate career at the University of Oklahoma, Calcaterra quickly emerged as one of the best tight ends in the country. In his first two seasons as a Sooner, Calcaterra logged 36 catches for 556 yards and nine touchdowns. He proved to be a versatile playmaker and was on his way to becoming a high draft pick. However, Calcaterra suffered multiple concussions as a junior in 2019 and out of fear for his health elected to medically retire at the end of the 2019 season. He later returned to football at the start of the new year in 2021 and played his last season with SMU. He picked things up where he left off from a tight end perspective. Calcaterra has above average size and good overall athleticism for a tight end. He’s primarily used as a big slot receiver with an ability to be a mismatch problem for smaller defensive backs or slower linebackers. He has good speed to stress the seam vertically or across the field on overs. He runs excellent routes with the use of hand swipes and body fakes to create separation. He has outstanding overall hands and ball skills and he makes very difficult catches look routine. He’s a mismatch in the red zone due to his size, quickness, and ability to play the ball in the air. Calcaterra lacks the strength at the point of attack to ever be an in-line blocker at a consistent level, but he plays hard with good technique. Overall, his athleticism, receiver instincts, and production will allow him to have a role as an “F” or flex tight end at the next level, but he will likely never be a full-time player given his deficiencies as a blocker.
Ideal Role: F or move tight end in a spread offense
Scheme Fit: Spread
Written by Brentley Weissman
Games watched: Texas (2018), Tulane (2021), West Virginia (2018), Cincinnati (2021)
Best Game Studied: Texas (2018)
Worst Game Studied: Cincinnati (2021)
Hands: Calcaterra has excellent hands for a tight end. A former receiver in high school, he shows an ability to pluck the ball out of the air with ease and also make catches over the middle or in contested situations. There are times he makes one-handed catches look easy.
Route Running: Calcaterra is a very good route-runner who wins with quickness and savviness. He has good speed that defenders must respect vertically, but then he can stop, sink his hips, and get out of breaks quickly. He understands leverage and how to set up defenders and also has outstanding awareness to find the soft spot in defenses.
Versatility: He isn’t the most versatile player in the sense that he isn’t much of a blocker. He is versatile from a receiving standpoint in that he can be moved all over the offense whether in-line, attached to the hip as an F, or even split outside and in the slot. He can run routes from anywhere on the offense. Because of that, he can be utilized to find favorable matchups.
Competitive Toughness: Calcaterra displays above average overall toughness and even though he lacks the strength to consistently move players off the ball, it’s not for lack of effort. The issue for Calcaterra is his durability. He has suffered multiple concussions over the last few years and was forced to medically retire. His medicals are a major red flag.
Ball Skills: Perhaps his best trait overall, he displays excellent ball skills. He can track the football over his shoulder and secure it with ease. He has very good body control and can contort his body mid-air to bring down the ball. He is excellent playing the ball in the air and climbing the ladder to secure the catch.
Blocking Skills: Having played in two offenses that utilize heavy amounts of spread and very little power formations, he has rarely been used as a traditional Y with his hand in the dirt. That being said, when he is asked to block he shows good effort, hand use, and leverage. His lack of size and strength does not result in consistent movement at the point of attack.
Football IQ: A smart football player with very good instincts and awareness, Calcaterra displays very good football IQ. He understands how to set up defenders when he is running routes and is outstanding at finding soft spots in zone to sit and uncover for his QB.
RAC Ability: Calcaterra is a nifty player after the catch and can make defenders miss in the open field. He is quick, sudden, and can change direction with little issue. He does lack strength and power as a runner and doesn’t break many tackles. He has good speed and a long stride to gain ground in a hurry.
Pass Protection: There are very few occasions where a pass play is called where Calcaterra is asked to stay in and block. He simply is too valuable as a receiving option. That being said, on reps where he is pass blocking, he shows good hands and effort but does lack an ability to anchor.
Big Play Ability: Calcaterra has good speed to get vertical on defenses with hands and ball skills to make the plays. He isn’t the type to take a quick pass and break tackles and take it to the house, but he does offer good overall athleticism and ball skills to make plays at all three levels.
Prospect Comparison: Cameron Brate (2014 NFL Draft, UDFA)
TDN Consensus: 70.50/100 (Fifth Round Value)
Crabbs Grade: 70.50/100
Sanchez Grade: 69.50/100
Weissman Grade: 71.50/100