Shrine Bowl TE RosterWith the college prospect all-star showcases just around the corner, we continue our series breaking down the prospects from this year’s draft class that will participate. On Thursday, players are set to show up in Las Vegas as events begin later this week and over the weekend for the first of the two showcases: the East-West Shrine Bowl. On Wednesday, I broke down all of the Shrine Bowl wide receivers, so now I’m focusing on another kind of pass-catcher. Here’s everything you need to know about this year’s Shrine Bowl tight ends.
Derrick Deese Jr., San Jose StateDerrick Deese Jr. had his strongest season of production as a pass-catcher in 2021, earning him an All-Mountain-West honorable mention. He was the team’s leading receiver with 47 catches and 730 yards—both career-highs—and also caught a team-high four touchdowns. He thrives in the passing game and has the versatility to play as a wing-back or F receiver. Deese has good hands that secure the ball before letting it get in close to his frame, and his route-running is creative enough to create good separation. He uses those same skills to evade defenders once he has the ball in his hands, which makes him a solid threat in generating YAC. He isn’t a very effective blocker, though, as he’s limited by his lack of strength and a big frame. Deese is definitely more dangerous as a receiver.
Lucas Krull, PittsburghLucas Krull began his college career at Florida, where he served in a very limited role for two years before transferring to Pitt ahead of the 2020 season. After an injury-shortened first season with the Panthers, he experienced somewhat of a breakout season in 2021. He finished the year with 451 yards and six touchdowns on 38 receptions, which were all career highs. Despite being 6-foot-6 and 255 pounds, he isn’t a strong blocker as far as strength or technique. As a result, Pitt often used Krull out of the slot rather than as an in-line tight end this season. He’s a decent receiver as far as finding space in zone coverage and getting open, though he isn’t an elite route-runner and doesn’t have great hands.
Nicholas “Nick” Muse, South CarolinaNick Muse joined William & Mary’s football team out of high school, then transferred to South Carolina after the 2018 season. His numbers after joining the Gamecocks aren’t flashy, but his production in the passing game was limited due to relatively poor quarterback play at South Carolina. When he did get looks, it was because of an impressive ability to create separation with his route-running and adjustments in zone coverage. Muse thrives on short and intermediate passes over the middle, especially since he’s got high YAC potential. His physicality and good field vision allow him to create once the ball is in his hands. Muse isn’t as strong when he’s an in-line blocker, where he had trouble keeping defenders engaged, making him somewhat of a liability in the trenches.
Chigoziem Okonkwo, MarylandChigoziem Okonkwo is probably the most talented tight end prospect playing in this year’s Shrine Bowl. After missing the 2020 season while recovering from myocarditis, Okonkwo returned with a career year in 2021. He set career highs in receptions (52), yards (447), and touchdowns while establishing himself as a serious YAC threat in the process. Look no further than this impressive hurdle against Michigan State for proof of that. https://twitter.com/PFNDraft/status/1459666549405536258?s=20 He’s a good route-runner that can settle into his routes to take advantage of gaps in zone coverage. He’s also able to create good separation with efficiency and explosiveness in his breaks downfield. Okonkwo’s downside is that he isn’t as great as a blocker. He got exposed against Michigan edge rusher David Ojabo, failing to consistently establish a strong base to block in the Terps’ matchup with the Wolverines. Even so, his pass-catching abilities alone make him a very enticing prospect to watch during Shrine Week and beyond.
Gerrit Prince, UABGerrit Prince was once a receiver that moved into the tight end position with his large frame—he’s 6-foot-5 and now weighs 240 pounds. He’s a talented in-line tight end who has solid potential as both a blocker and pass-catcher. Prince does a good job generating power when blocking with a solid base and good strength. He’s also demonstrated a willingness to get involved blocking downfield, sometimes even blocking multiple defenders on one play. That said, he is occasionally overpowered by stronger defenders. He’s also got a lot of potential as a receiver, which makes sense given his background as a former wideout. Prince has solid hands and is a creative route-runner that can fake out defenders with hesitation and shoulder fakes. He also has serious YAC potential with his breakaway speed and ability to evade defenders, but he doesn’t quite have the initial speed to be a seam threat.
Teagan Quitoriano, Oregon StateTeagan Quitoriano doesn’t have a stat sheet that jumps off the page, but his 214 yards and three touchdowns on 19 catches were enough to earn him an All-Pac-12 honorable mention. As a pass-catcher, he has good body control, allowing him to find success high-pointing the football and adjusting to incoming passes. Quitoriano suffers from some inconsistency catching the ball though, as he’s had some issues with drops, often starting to run before securing the catch. He’s not a great route-runner either, as he isn’t consistently explosive off the line and has the tendency to be stiff in his breaks. The former Beaver is a solid blocker though. He’s shown good competitive toughness and technique in those scenarios with a good bend in his knees and solid power with his hands.
Armani Rogers, Ohio UniversityArmani Rogers actually isn’t a tight end. He’s a quarterback. Rogers played at UNLV for three years before transferring to Ohio University before the 2020 season. As a result of his native position not even being a receiver, let alone a tight end, a lot of the variables for Rogers at the tight end position are total unknowns before Shrine Bowl Week. What we have seen are his skills as a runner, something he did more than pass throughout his college career. He’s a fast guy that can blow past defenders if he gets into the open field.
Jelani Woods, VirginiaJelani Woods had a unique college career beginning at Oklahoma State, where he was recruited to be their quarterback before transitioning to tight end. After three full years as a tight end for the Cowboys, he went to Virginia as a grad transfer ahead of 2021. Woods had the best year of his career at Virginia, catching 44 passes for 598 yards and eight touchdowns en route to First Team All-ACC honors. His large frame and wide catch radius paired with good hands make him a strong pass-catcher when targeted. Woods is alright in his route-running, but his size gives him huge mismatch potential—he’s open even when he doesn’t create separation. He has heavy feet, which doesn’t give him a lot of upside in generating YAC, but he can create chunk yardage down the seam. As a blocker, he’s got good competitive toughness, length, and footwork. Woods’ hand skills could use work, but he has had success as a blocker.
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