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Can the Commanders Afford a Weapon Like Tank Dell?

Hogs Haven takes a look at 2023 NFL Draft prospects that could contribute to the Commanders

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 04 American Championship Game - Houston at Cincinnati Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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

College Statistics

Receiving & Rushing Table
Receiving Rushing Scrimmage
Year School Conf Class Pos G Rec Yds Avg TD Att Yds Avg TD Plays Yds Avg TD
*2020 Houston American SO WR 8 29 428 14.8 3 0 0 0 29 428 14.8 3
*2021 Houston American SO WR 14 90 1329 14.8 12 1 5 5.0 0 91 1334 14.7 12
*2022 Houston American JR WR 13 109 1398 12.8 17 4 9 2.3 0 113 1407 12.5 17
Career Houston 228 3155 13.8 32 5 14 2.8 0 233 3169 13.6 32
Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 3/10/2023.
Kick & Punt Returns Table
Kick Ret Punt Ret
Year School Conf Class Pos G Ret Yds Avg TD Ret Yds Avg TD
*2020 Houston American SO WR 8 5 129 25.8 0 1 7 7.0 0
*2021 Houston American SO WR 14 13 201 15.5 0 0 0 0
*2022 Houston American JR WR 13 0 0 0 9 153 17.0 1
Career Houston 18 330 18.3 0 10 160 16.0 1
Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 3/10/2023.

Player Overview

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:

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

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.