The tight end position has become one of the most diverse in the NFL. It wasn’t that long ago that tight ends were miniature offensive tackles and expected to be blockers first and second, and safety blankets for the quarterback if necessary.
Until relatively recently, few tight ends were known primarily for their receiving ability.
Utah’s Dalton Kincaid is one of the new breed of hybrid tight end who is capable of moving around the offensive formation, gashing a defense as an industrial-sized receiver, and (theoretically) filling the role of blocker as well.
The New York Giants added one of the premier hybrid tight ends in the NFL when they traded for Darren Waller, but could they further bolster their receiving corps with Kincaid as well?
Prospect: Dalton Kincaid (86)
Games Watched: vs. Arizona State (2022), vs. USC (2022), vs.Washington State (2022), vs. Oregon (2022).
Red Flags: Back (2022)
(Note: Kincaid suffered a minor fracture in his back late in the 2022 season. He played through the injury but it kept him out of the NFL Scouting Combine)
Games Played: 26
Yards (YPC): 1,414 (13.2 per catch))
Games Played: 12
Yards (YPC): 890 (12.7 per catch)
Best: Receiving, ball skills, athleticism, catch radius, versatility
Worst: Play strength, blocking
Projection: An important TE-2 or a starting tight end in a 12-personnel offense.
Utah’s Dalton Kincaid is a fluid and athletic tight end with the traits to be a dangerous receiving weapon at the NFL level.
Kincaid has solid size for a hybrid tight end at 6-foot 3 ⅝ inches, 246 pounds with 32 ⅝ inch arms and 10 ¼ inch hands. Kincaid is also a very flexible and fluid athlete, giving him a blend of size, speed, and agility to make him a headache for opposing defensive coordinators.
He’s a headache of which the Utah offense made full use, lining him up all over the offensive formation. In addition to being attached to the offensive line as a traditional Y tight end, Kincaid was also detached, played from the backfield, the slot, and was split out as a true wide receiver. He executed well from all alignments and ran a relatively diverse route tree from all alignments.
Kincaid already flashes impressive savvy and psychology as a route runner. He freely manipulates the tempo of his routes, lulling defenders into believing that he isn’t in the progression before accelerating into the open field. He also shows some understanding of how to craft his route stems to manipulate defenders and create more room at the catch point. Kincaid does an excellent job of locating the ball in the air and tracking it down the field. He’s a natural catcher of the football and routinely extends to pluck the ball out of the air and away from his body. He also has very good body control to contort and maximize his catch radius or haul in imprecise passes. He is very strong at the catch point and has great concentration in contested catch situations to fight for the ball and make difficult catches.
As good of a receiver as Kincaid already is, there’s room for improvement. He can still become crisper and more precise in his breaks to improve receiving windows. He can also expand his route tree and create even more opportunities for a creative offensive mind.
And while Kincaid is a very dangerous receiving tight end – and his upside there should be very attractive to teams – he isn’t much of a blocker. He’s a willing run blocker, but more of a nuisance than anything else for defenses. Kincaid lacks play strength and great technique as a blocker. Instead, he’s best when positioning him between a defender and the play as an obstacle around whom the defender needs to navigate. He does understand how to position his body for effect, but he doesn’t really hold up once engaged with the defender.
Kincaid is more useful as a receiver or check-down option than as a pass protector.
Overall Grade: 7.3
Dalton Kincaid’s projection will largely depend on the philosophy of the team evaluating him.
More traditional teams will look at him as a “TE2” who is rotated onto the field on third downs and in the red zone to take advantage of his receiving prowess. However, teams that make heavy use of 12-personnel alignments as passing packages will likely view Kincaid as an every-down starter and a primary receiving option.
Kincaid is, frankly, a better receiver than most of the wide receivers in this draft class. He’s athletic and savvy as a route runner, competitive at the catch point, and is a true mismatch for back 7 defenders. He is too big for most safeties to easily cover, and too athletic for most linebackers to stay with. Kincaid has a natural feel for catching the ball and does a great job of locating, tracking, and adjusting to the ball downfield. He still has untapped upside as a receiver, but should be a dangerous weapon right away in the NFL.
That said, Kincaid’s evaluation as a tight end is severely hurt by his performance as a blocker. He was more of an obstacle than anything else for defenders and was a liability if forced to engage with defenders as a run blocker. He has enough size to improve and become a capable blocker, but will need dedicated work to raise that area of his game. He has the potential to become a “complete” tight end, but he’ll have to put in the work to do so. If Kincaid can become a reliable blocker, he has the upside to be a Pro Bowl player.