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2022 NFL Draft preview: 5 tight ends that could interest the Lions

Trey McBride was a three-sport star at Fort Morgan High School in Colorado who could pick his sport in college – basketball, baseball or football.

McBride chose football at Colorado State. It was a winning choice because of his ability and the attitude he brings to the football field.

"My passion has always been for football," McBride said in a Combine interview. "I like the grittiness and nastiness of football. I like to get in the trenches and get down and dirty."

McBride wasn't shy about letting opponents know that he had beaten them on a block or a reception. And he had plenty of chances to show those emotions, given his production in 2021.

"Just letting them know I'm the man, and they're not," he said.

He's been working on his game in the offseason to get ready for the draft.

"I'm a pretty complete tight end – a guy who can do it all," he said. "I'm just trying to sharpen the tool that I have. At the next level, there's not a lot of room for error."

Following is a look at the 2022 tight end class draft strength, the Lions' depth and draft priority at the position, and five tight ends who could fit the Lions.

Tight end class draft strength: Not a strong class at the top. It's unlikely a tight end will be drafted in the first round.

Lions' TE depth chart: T.J. Hockenson – 2020 Pro Bowl; Shane Zylstra, Brock Wright, Garrett Griffin, Jordan Thomas, Matt Sokol, Jared Pinkney, Hunter Bryant.

Lions' TE draft priority: Hockenson gives them a tight end with Pro Bowl ability. This would be a depth pick -- perhaps a specialist, blocker or receiver.

View photos of the top tight end prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Five tight ends who could fit the Lions:

(40-yard dash times are from Combine and Pro Day workouts as available.)

1. Greg Dulcich, UCLA:

6-4, 243. 4.69 40-yard dash.

Regarded by many as the top prospect at a position that lacks depth. Dulcich was a semifinalist in 2021 for the John Mackey Award that goes to the top college tight end.

Dulcich reacted well in 2020 when UCLA played seven games in a season limited by the COVID-19 pandemic. Dulcich had 26 catches for 517 yards and five TDs. He closed out his career in 2021 with 43 catches for 725 yards and five TDs.

2. Trey McBride, Colorado State:

6-4, 246.

A four-year starter with 40 games played. Played 12 games in three seasons and only four in 2020 because of COVID-19.

Highly – and deservedly – honored for his production in 2021, when he caught 90 passes for 1,121 yards. He had 10 career receiving TDs. Named first-team All American by Sporting News, Associated Press, Walter Camp Foundation, Pro Football Focus, and others.

3. Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina:

6-4, 245. 4.80 40-yard dash.

A four-year player, with 48 games played, who showed promise early in his career. Likely had 12 catches in 12 games – with five TDs in his first season.

He had 62 catches and 10 TDs in the next two seasons combined, then closed out his career in 2021 with 59 catches for 912 yards and 12 TDs. Impressive career totals – 2,050 yards and 27 TDs.

4. Jeremy Ruckert, Ohio State:

6-5, 250.

A four-year player, with 44 games and 16 starts. Seldom used as a receiver until his senior season, as the stats show.

He had 54 career catches for 605 yards. Almost half his totals came in his fourth season – 26 catches for 309 yards. A foot injury sustained in the Senior Bowl has limited his workouts.

5. Jelani Woods, Virginia (sleeper):

6-7, 259. 4.61 40-yard dash.

A transfer player who proved that a fresh start can pay dividends.

Woods played his first four seasons at Oklahoma State and did very little for the Cowboys. After a redshirt 2017 season – with no receptions and no games played -- he had 31 receptions and four TDs in the next three seasons combined (2018-20).

Woods transferred to Virginia and was a different player in 2021. He had 44 catches for 598 yards and eight TDs. At 6-7 with long arms (34.1 inches), Woods could make an impact for somebody – especially if he makes another jump in 2022 like the one he made at Virginia.

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