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With under 10 days remaining until the start of the 2022 NFL Draft, the general consensus around the Indianapolis Colts is that general manager Chris Ballard will draft either a wide receiver or offensive tackle when the team makes its first selection at No. 42 overall.
But sports writer Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports does not share that opinion.
In his latest mock draft released on April 18, Wilson projected the Colts to draft Colorado State tight end Trey McBride.
During his senior year last fall, McBride led Colorado State with 90 catches and 1,121 receiving yards. No only Rams pass catcher had even half as many receptions or receiving yards as McBride last season. He also scored one touchdown.
McBride posted 164 catches, 2,100 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in 40 games during his college career.
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Trey McBride Compared to Two-Time Pro Bowler Austin Hooper
In the 2021 NFL Draft, Atlanta Falcons playmaker Kyle Pitts made history as the first tight end to go as high as fourth overall. But in this year’s class, there is no generational talent like Pitts at tight end.
In fact, in Wilson’s mock draft, McBride was the first tight end off the board to the Colts at No. 42 overall.
NFL analyst Lance Zierlein of NFL.com compared McBride to tight end Austin Hooper. A six-year veteran, Hooper made the Pro Bowl with the Falcons in 2018 and 2019. He set career highs of 75 receptions, 787 receiving yards and six touchdowns during 2019.
“Two-way tight end with the size, strength and ball skills to help impact games in-line and in space,” Zierlein wrote. “McBride has room for improvement at the point of attack, but possesses the thickness and determination of a true, in-line blocker.
“McBride lacks top-end speed and quickness into the route, but he can snap off route breaks and has the body control and sticky hands to win contested catch battles.”
The draft scouts at ESPN, Bleacher Report and Pro Football Focus all ranked McBride as either the best or No. 2 tight end in the 2022 draft class.
Ironically, Bleacher Report gave him the highest overall rank, as the No. 52-best player. But B/R rated him second at tight end behind Ohio State’s Jeremy Ruckert.
“McBride ran a pro-style route tree at Colorado State and does a good job of leveraging his routes on tape,” analyst Steve Muench of ESPN wrote. “McBride has the speed to make plays down the seam and is strong after the catch. He’s a functional blocker.”
While the Colorado State tight end isn’t going to be a first-round pick, Zierlein wrote that he should be an alluring prospect on Day 2.
“McBride is solid in all phases and should appeal to every team looking for a combination tight end with early starting potential.”
Colts Need at Tight End
On the very first day of NFL free agency on March 14, the Colts re-signed veteran tight end Mo Alie-Cox. Bringing back Alie-Cox early in free agency was key for Indianapolis after fellow veteran tight end Jack Doyle announced his retirement on March 7.
In seven starts last season, Alie-Cox posted 24 catches for 316 yards and four touchdowns.
Alie-Cox played 54.72% of Indianapolis’ offensive snaps last season, but Doyle actually led Colts tight ends in that category, lining up for 57.77% of the team’s snaps on offense.
The Colts also have needs at wide receiver and offensive tackle, but drafting McBride would help offset the loss of Doyle.
McBride could also be a target for quarterback Matt Ryan in the passing game. Other than Michael Pittman, the Colts don’t have another pass catcher that posted more than 400 receiving yards last season.
Whether at tight end or wide receiver, Indianapolis is expected to add young outside talent to help take some attention away from Pittman in the passing game.