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Jelani Woods
NFL Combine

Jelani Woods Acing Every Test Ahead Of 2022 NFL Draft

  • Jack McKessy
  • March 10, 2022
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The NFL Scouting Combine is one of the last chances for college prospects to perform in front of scouts, so it’s an important opportunity for players that may have flashed in an all-star game like the Senior Bowl or Shrine Bowl to prove they can sustain that success. One of the standouts from this year’s Shrine Bowl, Virginia tight end Jelani Woods, did just that.

Woods began his college career at Oklahoma State, where he hoped to become the Cowboys’ starting quarterback before transitioning to tight end. In four years with the Pokes, the former quarterback was used primarily as an extra blocker, no doubt in part because of his massive 6-foot-7, 259-pound frame and lack of experience as a pass-catcher. So, after he graduated from Oklahoma State, Woods decided to enter the transfer portal.

“I didn’t want to be categorized as just an in-line blocker. The scheme at Oklahoma State only gave us a limited opportunity to show what we can do, and I knew I could do more,” he said. “When I entered the portal, Virginia was one of the first schools to hit me up.”

After transferring to Virginia, Woods had a breakout season on the stat sheet. The Cavaliers’ offensive scheme that included getting more out of their tight ends enticed him, and that extra use of tight end talent showed when he hit the field with the Hoos. Woods’ 44 receptions, 598 yards, and eight touchdowns in 2021 were all more than he had in three years combined at Oklahoma State.

A standout senior season earned the tight end a trip to the Shrine Bowl in Las Vegas in early February. Because he battled some injury trouble during the season, Woods wanted to use the Shrine Bowl as an opportunity to really show his abilities on the field. His size and physical skill set, including improved route-running, allowed him to make great plays in practices all week in Las Vegas. By the time Woods left, he had definitely turned more heads.

The biggest question left coming into combine week was how the tight end would compare to his peers in a draft class with some solid talent at the position. Ahead of his workouts, Woods said that he was hoping to show off his versatility at the position. He knew some scouts might question his speed or route-running ability, but he saw himself as a “balanced” tight end.

“I can dominate in-line, blocking, and I can also be a vertical threat type of tight end that can go downfield, stretch the secondary, do it all,” he said.

Once it came time to test, Woods proved that his physical traits are among the best of all tight ends in the class.

He started the day by putting up 24 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press. That was the most of all tight ends, and even some of the top offensive linemen prospects—namely Kenyon Green and Daniel Faalele—didn’t surpass his mark. Woods then followed that up with the second-fastest 40-yard dash time of tight ends at the combine with a 4.61-second mark.

Slowly but surely, Woods has been elevating his draft stock over the last year. It began with a breakout season at Virginia. Then he stood out at the Shrine Bowl and followed that up with one of the best performances of any tight end in combine testing. As Woods’ pre-draft process continues, his draft stock continues to trend upward, and a strong performance at Virginia’s pro day later this month will only continue to boost it.

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Jack McKessy