Although the tight end position has evolved into a hybrid position, there is still a considerable need for blocking tight ends that do the dirty work. Dylan Soehner has embodied that role in his Iowa State career. He is a big body that is extremely productive in the run blocking game for the Cyclones. He was part of a lethal tight end group that may have been the best in college football, not just the Big 12. After an impressive 2020 season, NFL Draft Bible asked Dylan a few questions regarding his career at Iowa State.
Traits are valuable for NFL prospects, as most are drafted solely based on them. It's crucial to be able to block, and Soehner embraces that skill set as a tight end. "I think my best trait is that I love blocking and opening holes”, Soehner said. “Obviously, I'm good at it, but the fact that I find that part of the game enjoyable is a great trait to have."
Soehner has undoubtedly gained the attention of NFL scouts for that reason. The NFL needs athletic tight ends who can move while also being effective blockers in the pass and run game. His ability to drive defensive ends off the ball has become something the Cyclones relied on for most of the season.
The Cyclones' overall season finished 9-3, capping off the season with a massive win over Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl. "We were able to be so successful during this hectic season because of the leadership that we have. This starts with the head coach being a great leader and our senior class being great leaders for the young guys. One day at a time was our mentality the whole way through."
There's certainly a buzz around Iowa State, especially among recruits, created by players like Soehner, who bought into what head coach Matt Campbell is building in Ames. You can sense a real family atmosphere when watching them play.
Soehner's roots come from Prairie Grove, Arkansas, about 430 miles from Iowa State. As a senior at Prairie Grove High School, he chose Iowa State over Illinois, Purdue, and Missouri. He earned All-USA Arkansas first-team all-state honors and all-conference awards after catching 38 passes for 628 yards and nine touchdowns as a senior.
He was a dual-sport athlete playing basketball, baseball, and track while earning all-state honors in basketball. Soehner had a lot of raw talent in his high school career that developed as soon as he got to Iowa State. His routes are much crisper, and that’s a credit to his hard work in Ames.
The Iowa State tight end was First Team All-Academic in the Big 12 for three straight years (2018, 2019, 2020). The 2020 season by Soehner culminated with him being named Honorable mention All-Big 12 by fellow coaches in the conference. But, if you ask Soehner, that's not his focus when playing ball. "The honorable mention all-conference as a great accolade to receive, but it's not why I play the game," Soehner said. "I've lived in a role that doesn't get a ton of recognition, and I kind of thrive off of that and being the 'dirty work' guy. But it is nice to receive a pat on the back from peers and obviously a great honor."
Soehner has come a long way as a player. After being redshirted his freshman year, he has seen the field more and more for the Cyclones, and for a good reason. His blocking ability, complemented by his ability to do things in the passing game, has increased his opportunities since his redshirt freshman season. "My route running has improved a ton since I got to campus, Soehner said. I was a very, very raw talent out of high school, and it definitely took a lot of development for me in all areas, and there's still a lot of room for more of that to take place. But, I have been running the best routes of my life this year. It just hasn't gotten seen by many outside of practice because our scheme doesn't have me in those positions a lot."
Soehner was recently invited to the East-West Shrine bowl. Despite not having the game this year due to COVID-19 concerns, the committee is partnering with the NFL to give the prospects a chance to get something out of it. The Shrine Bowl has been around for almost 100 years. It's a huge honor to be invited and acknowledged for your college football success. Soehner's stock has grown as the season went on and is undoubtedly heightened even further due to the invite to the prestigious event.
As we prepare for the NFL Draft and evaluate the prospects available, a player like Soehner could undoubtedly be useful for any NFL team with a power run game that can also spread it out. His size, athleticism, and pass-catching ability make him a valuable player to have on your team. I think he has the potential to develop into a dynamic player in a scheme that allows him to run more routes. Tight ends have become a premium position due to versatility, and Soehner is a great example of that.