This offseason, the Cincinnati Bengals are staring down a bare cupboard at the tight end position. After a nice season, Hayden Hurst is going to capitalize after a one-year prove-it deal, Mitchell Wilcox is a restricted free agent and Drew Sample may not be back after a disappointing career after being a second-round pick.
While one or some of those names may be back, Cincinnati may still look at adding young talent in the NFL Draft. One such option that could intrigue the team in one of the first two rounds is Utah tight end Dalton Kincaid.
He’s a guy who has high pass-catching prowess, a team captain status, and high college production. All of those might be enough for the Bengals to pull the trigger.
Weight: 240 pounds
Year: Senior (RS)
Age: 23 (Turns 24 in September)
Projected Round: Late first-mid-second
Kincaid started playing college ball at the University of San Diego, racking up 19 touchdown catches there in two seasons. He transferred to the University of Utah, hauling in another 16 touchdowns as a Ute.
This past season, he finished with 70 catches for 890 yards and eight scores. Kincaid was a huge reason for Utah’s successful campaigns over the past two years, garnering 20 victories in the span.
The past two seasons have him as one of the top tight end prospects in this year’s class along with Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer and Georgia’s Darnell Washington.
Effort, effort, effort. When you look at Kincaid’s tape of catches, many include a myriad of broken tackles, tumbling grabs, and receptions in difficult situations.
While he’s known more as a pass-catcher than a blocker, Kincaid still shows effort there, too. Utah had a potent rushing attack, wherein Kincaid chipped in as a blocker.
Still, Kincaid is a tight end best utilized as a passing game weapon. He accounted for over 28% of Cam Rising’s 2022 completions and close to 31% of his touchdown passes.
And, when you turn on the tape, Kincaid makes all kinds of catches. He can stretch the field down the sideline, slice up the seam, catch in tight traffic, and everything else.
There’s a bit of positional versatility with Kincaid, as he lined up in the slot, at H-Back and in-line. Most of the work he did came from the slot, though.
He was also a team captain for the Utes. Aside from pointing to character, we know about Zac Taylor and his staff values that in players.
Kincaid needs somewhat-significant work as a blocker. While he will excite in the passing game, he’ll need work as a blocker to be a reliable player in the NFL.
As stated above, he’s willing in the endeavor, so there’s hope for improvement (where there’s a will there’s a way). The Bengals’ offense hasn’t heavily relied on tight ends as blockers in the Taylor regime, so it may not be as big of a deal as we’re making it, but it’s an area for improvement.
Additionally, Kincaid isn’t a monster, in terms of size. When you look at a guy like Rob Gronkowski at 6’6” and 265 pounds, the frame consistently provided major matchup nightmares. Kincaid’s ability and decent size can exploit things for sure, but he’s not as physically imposing as some of the other great tight ends we’ve seen over the years.
And, of course, age is a factor. Teams love those really young guys that have high college production as players to mold into solid pros. Kincaid is ready to contribute today for a team as a receiver, but at 23.5 years old, we’re likely close to his ceiling (which is high).
When you watch Kincaid, he just seems to be the guy that coaches love to have on the roster. The level of effort is high and consistently there, and he’s a guy who both bails out his quarterbacks from precarious situations and acts as a nice security blanket.
A team may need to draft him with the idea that he may never develop into a solid blocker and is out there as a receiving weapon only. Even so, he can make catches in varying formation lineups, which can provide mismatches for the opposition.
I think a lot of people are very interested in seeing how Kincaid tests in pre-draft workouts. Will he “jump out of the gym” and increase his already-high stock, or will he fall below expectations, leaving teams to rely on film?
From a Bengals perspective, he’d be a good fit and weapon in this offense—particularly if Hurst signs elsewhere. If Hurst does leave and Cincinnati grabs Kincaid, they’d also need to get another guy at the position who can add more blocking to the offense.