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2023 NFL Draft Profile: Tucker Kraft

South Dakota State’s big tight end is one of the best FCS prospects in this year’s draft.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 29 Indiana State at South Dakota State Photo by Bailey Hillesheim/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tucker Kraft

Position: Tight End

College: South Dakota State

Height: 6’5”

Weight: 254 lbs.

Arm: 32.5”

Most everyone knew that going into last season Tucker Kraft would be a top NFL FCS prospect if he could stay healthy and he delivered on that assumption. South Dakota State’s tight end wrapped up his collegiate career (2019-2022) in epic fashion last fall by helping the Jackrabbits win their first national title in program history. Kraft caught 99 passes for 1,211 yards and nine touchdowns during his time at SDSU and won several awards along the way including All-American honors in both his sophomore and junior seasons.

Upon watching film it’s clear to see that Kraft’s greatest assets are his size and strength. He is often able to generate extra yards after initial contact because of his ability to out muscle defenders, especially if he is able to get his feet set. His larger build also helps him greatly when he is asked to block.

For his size, Kraft does not sacrifice much in athleticism and speed; not always a common trait amongst tight ends. At the NFL Combine he ran a 4.69 40-yard dash and recorded a broad jump 10’2” - both marks landing in the upper half of his position group. That speed combined with his strength makes him nearly impossible to bring down once is in open space and reaches the second level of the defense.

He also has great hands although it should be noted that Kraft often found himself wide open thanks to the benefit of a well-executed play action game. Still, that should not take away from his ability as a pass-catcher. He adjusts well to snag passes that aren’t precisely on-target and absorbs contact well while making grabs.

With all that in mind, one of the few knocks that NFL scouts have hit Kraft with is his lack of speed when progressing through pro-style routes. They noted that he often “rolls into the top of his routes” and expressed concern over his quickness specifically in seam routes. What little speed he lacks toward the beginning of his routes, though, should be greatly outweighed by the production he has on the back end of them.

Final Analysis: Kraft has a ton of upside and possesses all the attributes of an NFL tight end. He’s big, strong and athletic enough to be a bonafide starter in the league sooner rather than later, perhaps even during his rookie season. His ability to create yards after the catch is something that should stand out to GMs as should his blocking ability. He is not a finesse-type receiver but he doesn’t need to be. Kraft was often the stronger of two players when meeting defenders head on in college and, given NFL training, he could be in the pros as well down the line.

Projected Selection: 3rd Round (Day 2)