Nathaniel “Tank” Dell, WR/KR/PR
School: Houston | Conference: AAC
College Experience: Junior | Age: 23
Height / Weight: 5’8” / 165 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 2nd-3rd Round
Player Comparison: Slower DeSean Jackson
|Kick Ret||Punt Ret|
The path to the NFL has been anything but linear for Nathaniel “Tank” Dell. Out of high school, Dell was lightly recruited and chose to attend Alabama A&M, an HBCU in the FCS. He played four games that season, then redshirted. He decided to transfer to Independence Community College and use JUCO to give himself a chance to play in the FBS. It worked because, after leading the team in receiving and return yards, he chose Houston over Central Michigan, New Mexico State, Old Dominion, and USF.
He had a modest start to his career for the Cougars, but led the team in catches and receiving yards in 2020. Next season, he lead the team in catches, yards, and touchdowns on the way to being a first-team All-AAC honoree. When Dell was left off a PFF list of receivers returning in 2022 he noticed:
Noted https://t.co/qQTw64brdW— Flash1x⚡️ (@Tankdell4) March 26, 2022
Whether he needed it or not, Dell was motivated and had a career year, leading the country in receiving yards and touchdowns.
- Incredible short-area quickness
- Excellent footwork on releases from the line of scrimmage
- Good route running, uses fakes to sell routes to defenders
- Reliable hands with ability to track the ball deep
- Has value as a punt returner
- Undersized, might limit his play to the slot
- Very good, but not great speed
- Won on mostly free releases; can he beat press?
- Not many contested catches
Let’s see his work
Yep I’m full send on Tank Dell and Jalin Hyatt to Cleveland. Tank on punt returns is instant offense #Browns #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/zvdNGS7ph6— c nn r (@BernienChompz) February 2, 2023
Nathaniel Dell RAS so far.https://t.co/1Q4YdZeKI2 #RAS pic.twitter.com/tBDKJUyRCD— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 4, 2023
How he fits on the Commanders
The Commanders need more production on punt returns. Dax Milne reliably secured punts and reliably did little to return them. Dell easily replaces Milne in this role. Despite his lack of elite speed, Dell’s short-area quickness and acceleration makes him dangerous. Those talents make him a threat at receiver once he gets the ball in his hands. His small stature might make that more difficult, but in Washington, he’d be WR4 and should see his fair share of coverage against a team’s backup cornerbacks. Dell is worth a Day 2 pick in my opinion, but that would be too extravagant for the Commanders. If he falls to Day 3 because of his size, the Commander should consider drafting him.