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nfl draft preview | tight ends

Colorado State’s Trey McBride looks like the prize among tight ends in NFL Draft

Trey McBride's great body control allows him to adapt to poorly thrown passes, increasing his catch radius.Emilee Chinn/Associated Press

Trey McBride is a plug-and-play guy.

The Colorado State tight end possesses the quality most coveted by NFL decision makers: Versatility.

McBride can step into any offense and be effective right away. The 6-foot-4-inch, 246-pounder can fill the old school “Y” tight end role, where he could be attached to the line as a blocker and occasional receiver, or the “F” position, where he moves around to multiple spots as an offensive weapon.

“He can be a true wide tight end,” said NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah. “Hand in the ground, he’ll be able to block you and hold up in the run game. He’s above average in that department. He’s got outstanding hands. He has a lot of those contact catches, really, really tough catches in traffic.”


The 2021 Mackey Award winner as the nation’s top tight end, McBride had 74 catches for 979 yards during his first three seasons with the Rams, but really broke out last season, when he collected 90 receptions for 1,121 yards.

ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. calls him the “most advanced pass catcher” among available tight ends.

His numbers are even more impressive considering former Rams coach Steve Addazio employed a run-heavy offense.

McBride gets off the line smoothly and into his routes quickly. He has a knack for finding soft spots at the second level and demonstrates excellent concentration when locked on the ball; he dropped only six passes in 40 games.

He flashes decent speed but gains his yards with physicality and power more than flair.

Trey McBride had 90 receptions for 1,121 yards last season.Darron Cummings/Associated Press

“He’s not going to get a lot of separation,” said Jeremiah. “He’s not going to run away from a lot of people. He ran a 4.56 [at the Scouting Combine], which is an awesome time for him.

“I didn’t always see that speed on the field, but he’s an easy one to like. He’s going to be a solid starter for a long time.”


McBride, the first unanimous All-American in Colorado State history, is a well-rounded athlete who played nine positions during his days at Fort Morgan (Colorado) High. He owns school records for points scored in basketball as well as home runs and RBIs in baseball.

Trey’s twin, Dylan, was a wrestler at Western Colorado, and Trey credits all of his brothers with helping him develop his physical style of play, which is particularly noticeable when he’s run blocking.

“I think growing up with three brothers, you know, we were always wrestling around, things like that,” he said. “So it probably comes from wanting to be better than those guys and then learning how to wrestle with them.

“But most of all, I think it’s a mind-set. You go into this thing that you have that mind-set that you’re going to be tougher than the guy in front of you and you’re going to go out there and win.”

He shows great body control to adapt to poorly thrown passes, which increases his catch radius.

“I think I’m a playmaker, I’m a winner, and a guy that can catch the ball, very tough, strong hands and physical and gritty in the run game as well,” said McBride, who was a standout during Senior Bowl week.

He was eager to meet with teams at the combine in Indianapolis and relay his story.


“I think just that I can compete and I’m one of the top guys in this class and just to let them know kind of everything I’m about, my measurables, things like that and let them know that I should be the first tight end taken,” McBride said.

“I think that I’m a complete tight end, a kind of do-it-all guy that can be a threat in the run game along with the pass game, as well.”

The Patriots have a deep depth chart at tight end, though they might be seeing a lot of McBride in the future, as the Bills and Jets are in need of an infusion at the position and have met with McBride.

No matter when McBride is selected or where he lands, he is poised to make history on draft weekend when he becomes the first NFL player with same-sex parents.

Trey McBride was the 2021 Mackey Award winner, the honor given to the nation’s top tight end.Butch Dill/Associated Press

“They’ve done a great job of pushing me to be the best version of myself and just constantly giving support and love,’’ he recently told NBC about his parents, Kate and Jen. “Really, it’s just normal to me. It’s something that I’ve been with my whole life. It’s not anything that I know differently.”

The top tight ends

The top tight ends available in the April 28-30 NFL Draft, with name, college, height, weight, and projected round.

Trey McBride, Colorado State, 6-4, 246, 2

Strong and athletic, he is the most pro-ready tight end in this class, displaying strong blocking and receiving skills. Extremely reliable, he had just six drops and one fumble in four seasons (40 games). Acquitted himself well against excellent competition during Senior Bowl week. Collected 140 passes for 2,100 yards for his career despite playing in a run-first offense.


Greg Dulcich, UCLA, 6-4, 243, 2-3

Superb athlete with good speed and hands. His deceptive acceleration often surprises defenders and leaves them flat-footed. Flashes nifty shiftiness to make defenders miss; he’ll rack up a ton of yards after catch. Is a marginal in-line blocker and likely will need to add bulk and refine his techniques to help out in the run game and pass protection.

Jeremy Ruckert, Ohio State, 6-5, 252, 3

Stats are deceiving with this large man. He had just 54 catches in 47 games, but with the wide receiver talent in Columbus, he was rarely the primary target. Ruckert can catch, though, and could be a better in the pros, where his route tree will be expanded. A very willing and aggressive blocker, he can rag-doll opponents but will sometimes get caught leaning and lose his matchup. Missed the Senior Bowl and Combine with plantar fasciitis.

Charlie Kolar, Iowa State, 6-6, 252, 3-4

Huge target had 168 catches for 2,181 yards and 23 TDs with just 5 drops in 49 career games for the Cyclones. He’s a demon on contested catches, where his height, strength, and concentration allow him to win most battles. Should excel in the red zone. Must work on his run-game blocking to become a reliable every-down contributor. Already earned a mechanical engineering degree and is working on a finance degree.


Jelani Woods, Virginia, 6-7, 253, 3-4

Jelani Woods had 44 passes for 598 yards and 8 TDs for Virginia in 2021.Ryan M. Kelly/Getty

A four-year starter at quarterback in high school, he switched positions during a red-shirt season at Oklahoma State in 2017. Played three seasons with the Cowboys (31 catches) before transferring and catching 44 passes for 598 yards and 8 TDs for the Cavaliers in 2021. Has long arms and good acceleration, making him a tough one-on-one matchup. A willing blocker in the run game, he’ll need to be coached up on pass protection.

Best of the rest: Cade Otton, Washington (6-5, 247); pounds); Daniel Bellinger, San Diego State (6-5, 253); Jalen Wydermyer, Texas A&M (6-4, 255); Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina (6-4, 245); James Mitchell, Virginia Tech (6-4, 249); Chigoziem Okonkwo, Maryland (6-2, 238); Jake Ferguson, Wisconsin (6-5, 250); Cole Turner, Nevada (6-6, 249).

Here’s a look at the previous positions profiled

Running back: Notre Dame’s Kyren Williams has complete confidence in his skills at running back

Offensive line: Central Michigan’s Bernhard Raimann found his preferred line of work at left tackle

Defensive line: Ex-water polo player George Karlaftis stands out in NFL Draft defensive line talent pool

Wide receivers: If Patriots target a receiver in draft, Alabama’s John Metchie has a lot going for him

Linebackers: Georgia linebacker Channing Tindall could fit nicely into a speedier Patriots defense

Defensive backs: Versatile Washington defensive back Trent McDuffie already has a lot of Patriot traits

Jim McBride can be reached at james.mcbride@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globejimmcbride.