2022 NFL Draft Cheat Sheet: Tight Ends

Jalen Wydermyer, Texas A&M

Jalen Wydermyer is a contested catch wizard when he wants to be. He’s tall, strong, and built well enough to crash into defenders and come out with the ball in some really sticky situations. I think that I’m a bit higher on Wydermyer than most, but I’ve just really liked what I’ve seen from him as a pass-catcher. He found the endzone with consistency while he was at Texas A&M, and he has the size to become a serious threat in red zone situations.

But, of course, he’s far from perfect. Wydermyer has the most glaring issues of any of the top tight ends in this class. Most of his biggest problems seem to come from a lack of effort, which makes me wonder if he has “so big and strong that he never had to try, and now he doesn’t know how to try” syndrome. Wydermyer’s passive nature on the field makes me wonder what his tape would look like if he really was giving his all out there. Again, I’m higher on him than most, and it’s for one reason. If an NFL coach gets into his head that he needs to be giving his utmost effort to this sport now that it’s his livelihood, Wydermyer can be scary good. So good, in fact, that I’m willing to bank on that potential.

Pro Comparison: Wydermyer’s raw strength and athletic ability have given some draft profiles I’ve read an O.J. Howard feel, and I’m hitching my wagon to that comparison.

Jelani Woods, Virginia

If you thought I was way too high on Jalen Wydermyer, you’ll be pleased to know that I’m even higher on Virginia’s Jelani Woods. Woods is a mammoth of a man, even for a tight end, coming in at 6’7 and 259 pounds. He uses that size to his advantage consistently, and has made bullying smaller defenders a vital part of his game. This size also creates serious mismatches with defenders of all kinds, whether they be defensive backs or linebackers. Woods isn’t great in the change of direction department, but his surprising speed does a bit of that work for him. With some in-line blocking improvements (some of which Woods has already shown) I see great things in the future.

As I said before, Woods needs some help in the blocking department. He’s shown willingness to improve that area of his game, but I’m not sure what the likelihood is that he ever reaches beyond “serviceable” as a blocker. Much like Dulcich, Woods isn’t the cleanest route-runner in the world. I suppose some of that could be attributed to being 6’7, but none of his routes really snap in a way that I’d like from a pass-catching tight end. That being said, I think Woods can be a mid to high level starter in the NFL, just from the improvements I’ve seen of him over the last season.

Pro Comparison: As a Browns fan, Woods’s body type, high-point ability, and athleticism remind me of a taller David Njoku. That being said, I’m not sure their play styles are exactly identical.

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