This past draft saw the Atlanta Falcons take Kyle Pitts in the top five, making him the highest-drafted tight end in NFL history. No other tight end was selected on day one and the next one off the board came at pick 55, when the Steelers took Pat Freiermuth. The upcoming 2022 class features a lot of depth. However, it is unclear who will end up hearing their name called on day one of the draft. Here are five players with the talent and upside to be a first-round selection next April (alphabetical order):
If there is a player with the same skill set as Kyle Pitts in the upcoming draft, it is Billingsley. He is going to break a 4.6 at the combine and his speed shows up on the field. He is almost that of a big receiver, yet he can block and play in-line. He’ll be best in the slot, where teams can maximize his ability to create separation. Billingsley was fantastic down the stretch and should be the focal point of the Alabama receiving corp next season. He should put up huge numbers for the Crimson Tide.
Isaiah Likely Coastal Carolina
In the same mold as Billingsley, Likely will win at the next level as a receiver. His change of direction and speed are very good for the position. At Coastal, he has been very productive over the course of his career, with 15 career touchdowns and over 1,100 yards. He is a home run threat, which is rare for the tight end position. As a blocker, Likely is very underrated. He does his job and puts in the effort. Next season, Likely should continue to put up excellent numbers and, if he tests well at the combine, should shoot up draft boards.
Coming out of high school, Ruckert was a five-star recruit and he has flashed tremendous upside at Ohio State. As a blocker, it doesn’t get much better than Ruckert. He is an elite in-line blocker, as Ohio State utilizes their tight ends as blockers most of the time. He’ll be a pro-ready blocker; something teams will really value. As a receiver, Ruckert has shown the ability to be a red zone threat and safety valve for a quarterback. He can threaten linebackers vertically up the seam and has excellent hands to secure the football. If a team wants a complete tight end, who can be a day one starter, Ruckert has all the tools to be that and then some.
The talent is all there for Stogner to be a big riser next season. It starts with his size; he is 6’6” and has really long arms. His change of direction is very good for his size and Stogner can pluck the ball out of the air. As a blocker, he has the play strength to move defenders and his technique was impressive for an underclassmen. Oklahoma has produced several NFL tight ends and Stogner is up next. With Spencer Rattler at quarterback, Stogner should be an All-American candidate. His ceiling is higher than Mark Andrews, who is a top-five tight end in the NFL, making Stogner a very intriguing prospect for the 2022 draft.
With back-to-back fantastic seasons at Texas A&M, Wydermyer has become a household name. He has dominated SEC competition and looks the part as an NFL tight end. On film, Wydermyer’s football IQ is off the charts. He understands the nuances of route running and always finds a way to get open enough for his quarterback to target him. Wydermyer is very quick for 265 pounds, allowing him to break free from linebackers in the intermediate part of the field. Wydermyer also does a great job of boxing out defenders and using his frame to his advantage to come down with receptions. Texas A&M should be a top-five team in the nation next season and expect Wydermyer to be a big reason why. He has the talent to be a very high selection and a top-level starting tight end in the NFL.