The 2018 NFL Draft tight end class isn’t top heavy, and that’s been quite the norm the past few years. The position may not have many first rounders year in and year out, but if there is one position that can cause mismatches, it’s this one. Tight ends are so important; think about it, they dictate most of the matchups from a personnel standpoint. Generally speaking, two tight ends in a huddle leans towards the offense possibly running the ball. When a tight end breaks the huddle, the defense immediately calls out the strength, and more times than not, that is defined by the side of the formation a tight end goes to. So even before the ball is snapped, a tight end has an impact on the play. When you have a tight end that is as athletic as South Dakota State’s Dallas Goedert, the offense can reach another level.
Goedert did come from an FCS school, but he did what he was supposed to do: dominate.
He did the same thing in Mobile before getting injured.
Dallas Goedert put on a show before getting injured at this year's Senior Bowl pic.twitter.com/sAVsg4ADpE
— PFF (@PFF) March 31, 2018
He finished his career with 2,988 receiving yards and 22 total touchdowns, but what stands out to me is his 15.1 average yards per reception.
That is astounding, and what I mean by dominated is that teams knew he was their go-to guy, and he still lit it up.
Goedert was often utilized as the slot receiver in the Jacks’ 3×1 sets. This was done for many reasons and I will cover them, but on this play, he shows off why he averaged over 15 yards per reception. He is able to get vertical quickly and separate horizontally giving his quarterback a nice target to hit. Unfortunately, this beautiful play is negated by bad ball skills, as the corner punches the ball out.
When defenses play two high sets, he is able to cut them up down the middle of the field. What I love about this explosive play is that he frames the pass perfectly and catches it with his hands. His size, wingspan, and strong hands allow him to naturally keep the ball out of range of defenders and absorb their hits without any repercussions.
When he is the slot receiver in these 3×1 sets, he and the offense are tough to defend. If you double him, that can leave receivers outside with 1-on-1 coverage, but if you don’t, he can make you pay like he does on this 4th-and-long play. Look at his ability to get deep and the focus as the ball is incoming.
What a nightmare he is for defenders. He is too big to put a corner on, but he can run by or play above the rim when up against safeties and linebackers. Even when coverage is good, he shows the concentration and physical skills to catch the ball.
Goedert’s 80 1/8″ wingspan and 10-inch hands, paired with his height, can be a quarterback’s best friend. This is especially true if said QB throws it high over the middle. Goedert can elevate and erase inaccurate passes and has some of the softest hands in this entire class.
You saw it time and time again on his film. The pass is high and coming in hot, yet he goes up and snatches it.
Here is another example of that. Goedert is in-line and runs a seam route, but the throw is low and behind him, yet he still brings it down. It may seem routine, but rotating your body completely around as you’re running full speed down the field is very difficult. Then he is able to adjust to the badly thrown ball.
Goedert is going to dictate coverages and help his teammates produce due to his ability to get deep. This is 3rd-and-long, and Goedert is again in the slot. On the snap, he runs a vertical route that pulls the linebacker and the safety. This allows the receiver from the backside of the 3×1 set to run a crossing route to the vacated area, and ultimately allows him to pick up the 1st down.
In the very same game, he again dictates bracket coverage, and it opens up the seam for his teammate. Unfortunately, the QB and receiver are unable to connect.
As a big slot receiver/tight end, he’d better know how to use his hands to get open. As you have seen, he is asked to run a lot of vertical routes, and in the NFL he will have athletic linebackers and safeties who will try to deny him those clean releases and seam routes. They will try and re-route his stems. Goedert shows the ability to swat away hands so that defenders are unable to re-route him. He does just that here, but the QB misses him within the structure of the play.
That hand usage also becomes very important in the red zone. On this play he stutter releases, and as the DB goes to disrupt the route, Goedert fights fire with fire by quickly pushing off, accelerates horizontally to gain separation, and flashes those soft hands again for the touchdown.
You see it over and over again. At the top of the route with the defender having outside leverage, Goedert uses his hand to swipe the DB’s hand away. The swipe allows him to gain outside leverage, which he needed for the throw, and then the concentration and ability to make the contested catch while shielding the defender.
Quarterbacks can trust in him to make a play even when he is covered. If they throw to a spot, Goedert will make a play with his long arms and soft hands. The QB places it high and away from the defensive back, who tries to undercut the pass, and Goedert hauls it in.
For a big guy, he has some pretty special body control. When his QB throws it up, he is coming down with it, and sometimes he doesn’t even need two hands.
According to Pro Football Focus, Goedert averaged 8.2 yards after the catch. He is able to make guys miss when he catches it, and that is why the Jacks utilized a lot of screens to him. Here is a middle screen that helps put the offense in the red zone.
Even when plays break down and the QB needs a play to be made, he can come through and turn a broken play into an explosive one because of his ability to gain yardage after the catch.
He has some looseness in his hips and nice shoulder fakes to elude defenders, and it will help an offensive coordinator generate production at all levels of the field. He forced 12 missed tackles, which led the nation, per Pro Football Focus.
When you talk about matchups, this is one of the things you can do with him because of his athleticism. The Jacks put him in the slot and put a defensive back over him. But instead of attacking through the air, they run the ball, and he is able to stalk block, latch on, and drive the player wide.
But he has a lot of room to improve in run blocking. When in-line versus defensive ends, he struggled to stay engaged. Here, the defensive end wins the hand battle, stacks the 6’5″ TE, isn’t fazed by Goedert’s leg drive, and he is easily able to shed the block.
On this inside zone run, the defensive end stacks him, and as Goedert’s feet stop driving, the defender grabs cloth and just throws him.
But he did flash the skill needed to become a more efficient blocker, and we see it here. On this play, Goedert is executing a down block on the gap run play. His hand placement is much better; he has his right hand within the frame of the body and his left hand just outside the frame to steer the defender where he wants to go – inside.
Same exact play, another effective down block by Goedert, and he finishes the defensive end.
While I believe Goedert is likely to be drafted on day two, that doesn’t mean that he won’t make an immediate impact on Sundays. His skillset is exactly what coordinators want in their tight ends: athleticism. Those skills alone will naturally create mismatches at a position that already dictates defenses. While there will be an adjustment to NFL game speed, Goedert’s athleticism will help him float above water while learning the nuances of the NFL game. As long as his coordinator gets him the ball on screens, shovel passes, deep over/bender routes, and in the red zone, he will be able to do some of the special things he showed at South Dakota State.