Tucker Kraft, TE
School: South Dakota State University Conference: Missouri Valley Conference
College Experience: Redshirt Junior | Age: 21 (Week 1)
Height / Weight: 6’5” 255 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 3rd-4th round
Player Comparison: Hunter Henry / Pat Freiermuth
Source: https://gojacks.com/sports/football/roster/tucker-kraft/11605 (South Dakota State University Athletics)
Tucker Kraft joined South Dakota State University as a running back while having experience as a linebacker, punter, and quarterback. He also played basketball in high school. Kraft redshirted his 2019 season and played seven games in three starts in 2020. Kraft broke onto the draft scene in 2021 with 65 receptions, 773 receiving yards, and 6 TDs. He received All-American FCS First Team and MVCS accolades that year. Kraft’s 2022 season was hampered with ankle injuries that led to an inconsistent season.
- Great size with athleticism
- Receiving upside, ability to become TE1
- Scheme versatile
- Made positive strides as a run blocker
- Experience lined up inline, slot, and wideout.
- Needs to improve on pass protection.
- Average speed for the position.
- Blocks with high pad level. Lunges into blocks
- Needs to sink hips more in routes.
- One full productive season.
Let’s See His Work
In between #UFCVegas69 fights been watching Tucker Kraft… the 2023 NFL Draft hype for him isn’t nearly as much as it should be‼️ @TuckerKraft has phenomenal body control to make plays at each level. The swiftness and RAC ability is great. High-upside player pic.twitter.com/9hmVccdio0— Marissa Myers (@Marissa_M27) February 19, 2023
What aspects of your game did you work on the most heading into this season?
Tucker Kraft: My ability in pass protection. I knew that was an issue for NFL teams and scouts that had eyes on me. I learned how to get my feet underneath me. I know that everything can’t be perfect on a snap-by-snap basis. I’m trying to focus on things one play at a time. I’ll be better off if I do that as opposed to worrying about a previous mistake.
I also refined my route-running capabilities heading into this season. I spent some time at Lipscomb University with the guys from Tight End University. It gave me an opportunity to train alongside high-level guys that are playing in the pros. That was an amazing experience. I learned a lot about how to get from Point A to Point B with fewer steps. We worked on on-ball and off-ball releases. We worked on one, two, and three-step releases. It was really helpful.
You do terrific work in the running game. You align in-line or attached at the hip of the tackle. You’re powerful at the point of attack. What do you enjoy about contributing as a run blocker?
Tucker Kraft: What really got me dedicated to my abilities as a blocker is that I knew if I wanted to get on the field in our downhill running offense, I had to start by learning our run game and blocking really well.
If you can play the “Y” position in our offense, you’re basically in the game on every snap. If you’re a “Y”, you’re on the field. If you can block, you’re also going to be running routes. I knew that. We’re not going to swap guys on and off the field because that becomes a telltale sign. If he’s in the game, it’s a pass. If he’s in the game in a heavy package, it’s run. We don’t want to tip our hand.
Run blocking was a way for me to establish myself and launch my career. I wanted to absolutely dominate guys. You know that face they make when they’re falling backward and you plant them on their backs? It’s a different kind of feeling.
How Will He Fit On The Team
Washington needs serious tight end help. The production from the position was non-existent in 2022. While John Bates can fill in as TE1, he’s limited as a receiving option. Tucker Kraft would come in as a Day 1 starter and eventually become the TE1 of the Commanders in a few years. Kraft can immediately step in as a run blocker and receiving threat with the potential to become a “do-it-all” tight end. If Kraft can continue to improve his pass blocking, he would see plenty of time wherever the Commanders go in their offensive direction.