Each day leading up to the 2018 NFL draft, I’ll break down my top 50 prospects. In some cases, we had to make tough omissions because of poor injuries, combine showings or incomplete information. For more complete scouting reports on all the prospects, check out the Pro Football Weekly 2018 Draft Guide, which is available for order now.
49. South Dakota State TE Dallas Goedert
6-foot-5, 256 pounds
Key stat: Had 13 games with 101 or more receiving yards over his final two college seasons. Had a seven-game span in 2016 where he totaled 902 yards and eight TD catches.
The skinny: Largely unknown recruit in rural South Dakota who walked on at SDSU redishirted as a freshman and remained largely unknown until his breakout season of 2016, when he went from 26 catches and three TDs the season before to 92 grabs (for 1,293 yards) and 11 scores as a junior.
Goedert made a name for himself with one of the best catches of that season (see below) against Drake and was named a unanimous FCS All-America First Team selection and a Walter Payton Award Finalist in both 2016 and 2017 when the Jackrabbits went a combined 20-7 and made the FCS playoffs both years.
He was invited to the Senior Bowl and had a strong first-day showing before a hamstring injury knocked him out of practice and kept him from working out fully at the NFL scouting combine. Goedert will work out and plans to do everything at his pro day on March 30, which should be well-attended.
Upside: Highly athletic and natural. Smooth strider as route runner. Runs with ease for such a big man. Quick get-off and release off the line. Should fit a team seeking both an in-line tight end and one who can flex out or go in motion. Long arms. Big frame with a bit of room to grow and get stronger. Above-average to very good physical traits. Deceptively strong. Can help move a pile as a blocker and gain yards as receiver after contact.
Made tangible progress each season. Stepped up in big games — against FBS opponents (Kansas 2015, TCU 2016) and in FCS playoff games — throughout his career. Terrific red-zone ability and production. Long arms and good hands to go snag the ball out of the air, and good body control to harness it.
Here it is, folks — the now relatively infamous one-hander against Drake in 2016:
Downside: Lower level of competition will hurt him overall. Wasn’t able to showcase skills vs. top individual competitors after Senior Bowl injury and only lifted at the NFL scouting combine. Rarely saw constant double-team coverage with talented WR Jake Wieneke (288 receptions past four seasons) also on field.
Has never really had to set up defenders before. Doesn’t have massive hands. Lacks a little finesse and polish in both route running and blocking technique. Scouts have dinged him for attempting — and failing to make — highlight-reel catches. Fairly or not, he suffered from a bit of “Odell Beckham Syndrome” after the Drake catch.
Best-suited destination: A patient team that can develop Goedert steadily would stand to benefit greatly in a few years. Goedert can and should compete and contribute as a rookie, but he might not hit his peak until Year 3. Teams that have drafted well for the long term include the Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots, Minnesota Vikings, Carolina Panthers, Oakland Raiders, Arizona Cardinals and others. You could argue that most of these teams could use a tight end to help at some point, if not right away. Also keep an eye on the Jacksonville Jaguars, Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Ravens in that mix.
Quotable: “I want to be a three-down tight end in the league. So I’m going to have to be able to block. I didn’t do a ton of blocking at South Dakota State, but when I did, I put my head in there. I have to work on it a little bit, but I’ve been doing it already when I’ve been training. I plan on getting a lot better at it and being one of the best tight ends in the league.” — Goedert, at the NFL scouting combine
Player comp: Zach Ertz, who took a few years to develop but became a game-changer starting in his third season
Expected draft range: Top-40 pick, with late first round not out of the question