DEVY TEs: Early Season Risers & Fallers
Possibly the most hated position to target in devy drafts because of how difficult it is to project tight ends to the NFL, but if we can focus on the right ones that give a chance to grab a talent like Hockenson or Pitts for late picks and see massive leaps in value once they enter the NFL. Let us look at some names to note from the first two weeks of college football.
Michael Mayer, Notre Dame
Now, this may seem like a weird one to put as a riser, but please let me explain. People have been questioning whether Mayer is worth being the TE1 for devy purposes; the answer is he is the clear #1 option for us. As a focal point these two weeks, he caught 16 passes for 201 yards and 3 touchdowns. While he did drop a few passes, the talent he possesses outweighs the growing mistakes. He also is not one-dimensional; Mayer does a good job of learning how to use his frame to make blocks. Expect the team to keep helping him learn how to be a better blocker and utilize him often with routes in the passing game. Baby Gronk is a good title to have!
Brock Bowers, Georgia
This is what we were waiting to see out of Arik Gilbert and/or Darnell Washington. However, turns out it may be the freshman Brock Bowers that will be the standout for us as he currently leads Georgia in receiving through two games. He currently has caught all 9 targets for 150 yards and 2 TDs, with 103 yards after the catch. He also was actually recorded as the second fastest ball carrier in week 2 in the highlight I shared. I am excited to see how much target share he can command as a freshman in college.
Payne Durham, Purdue
Well, count me among the group who was not aware how Durham would be a focal point for Purdue this season so far. Through two weeks, he has 11 catches on 13 targets for 174 yards and 3TDs. His average per reception is looking nice with a 15-yard average currently. The nice part is seeing that he has 113 of those yards after the catch showing he can extend production with the ball in his hands. The redshirt junior stands 6’5” and 255 pounds so everything is checking off so far for a potential sleeper guy in the 2022 draft.
Jake Ferguson, Wisconsin
A focal point for the Wisconsin offense, Jake Ferguson currently ranks 3rd in catches among tight ends in college. That makes it weird why I might call him a faller until you hear that is combined with being tied with 32nd in yards for the position. This is a dude who has been touted as dominant before in college so it may be partly a product of the offense currently. However, seeing him have only 35 yards after the catch with 12 catches and 69 yards so far. He has the size and profile from past seasons so now we wait and see how he can rebound the rest of the games this year because he has never shown to be explosive on the field.
Jahleel Billingsley, Alabama
Now, this is a guy I want to get out of Saban’s doghouse and fast. Back in the spring, the news from Alabama spring practices and the game was how much Billingsley was utilized often and all over the field. He has a giant shot at making a case for the 2022 draft, but he has only been on the field for limited snaps. He had two targets in week 2 but caught neither. In fact, the freshman Cameron Latu made the most of it in week 1 with some production. Jahleel is a guy to keep an eye on and whether we see him earn himself more reps to make the most of his talent. I think he can still challenge for the top 2 with Wydermyer if he gets released.
Theo Johnson, Penn State
Theo finally saw something happen in week 2 with him catching both passes for 29 yards and the first touchdown for Ta'Quan Roberson. He did not catch either target in week 1 so it was nice for him to do something against Ball State. While Johnson has plenty of time before he is eligible in 2023, I do want to see the athletic talent show up more often. He was fourth in targets this week behind Dotson, Washington, and Cain. As the season rolls around, I want to see the 6’6” giant start being used more in the red zone and across the field. Lower expectations some, but he should still see opportunities to come back some.
Jalen Wydermyer, Texas A&M
We have seen the offense look very tough in the passing game over the first two weeks. That has led to Wydermyer being affected as he has had mediocre production so far. We know he was great last season, and currently already has 20% of his yardage from 2020 with a similar amount of games too. Hopefully, as we see the QB situation settle down, Wydermyer should still be able to make a solid case for being the top tight end for the 2022 draft with round 2 draft capital if he stays consistent. He has everything we want in a tight end, I just think Anias Smith and the running backs have just been the focal points with the other issues.
Brant Kuithe, Utah
So far Kuithe and Utah have played against BYU and Weber State. The stats have been modest through the first two games with 6 catches for 80 yards and a touchdown. He is in the mix for a later draft pick next season as a senior who stands at 6’2” and 235 pounds. I do not see a high ceiling for the kid after college on game film or stats as he gets what is given. I am not intrigued and I see better dart throws.
Jeremy Ruckert, Ohio State
So this is the issue with why Ruckert is in the unknowns section. I have no clue how the NFL will see Ruckert. He has good size for 6’5” and 240 pounds, but he has a minimal role over the years with all the receivers that Ohio State utilizes. He currently has 4 catches with 6 targets for 51 yards. I do not know how much credit we can give him with defenses already worried about Olave, Wilson, and Smith-Njigba. I have seen some people already announcing him in the first round of the 2022 draft which is really high for me. Wait and see for now.