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2024 NFL Draft prospect profile: Cade Stover, TE, Ohio State

Could Stover give the Giants a fearsome one-two punch at tight end?

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

The New York Giants have enough holes that spending a high draft pick is commonly seen as an unnecessary luxury. After all, they have Daniel Bellinger and Darren Waller on the roster, and finding a third and fourth tight end to fill out the depth chart likely doesn’t need a heavy investment.

However, Waller might not be a Giant after 2024 and Bellinger will be going into the final year of his rookie contract in 2025. Likewise, the Giants’ offense has suffered for a lack of depth at the position over the last two years. All of those factors could cause them to look at tight end with a bit more urgency than we might expect on the outside.

Ohio State tight end Cade Stover could be an answer for them. He doesn’t quite fit the physical archetype for a “complete” NFL tight end, nor is he a hyper athletic WR/TE “hybrid”. But what Stover is, is a good and well-rounded football player who’s been overshadowed by the cavalcade of ultra-talented players to come out of OSU in recent years. It’s hard to shine as a receiver when playing around multiple OROY candidate receivers, even when CJ Stroud is throwing you the ball. And blocking tight ends rarely generate highlight reels.

But Stover has still managed to rack up 5 touchdowns in each of the last two years, and made big plays as both a receiver and blocker.

Could he do the same for the Giants?

Prospect: Cade Stover (8)
Games Watched: vs. Wisconsin (2022), vs. Notre Dame (2023), vs. Maryland (2023), vs. Penn State (2023)
Red Flags: Knee (2023, played through the injury)

Measurables

Height: 6-foot-4
Weight: 251 pounds

Strengths

  • Toughness
  • Blocking
  • Play strength
  • Ball skills
  • Versatility

Cade Stover is a thick, powerful, and versatile tight end prospect.

Stover is both a good receiver and blocker, and was used all over Ohio State’s offense. He played as a traditional “Y” tight end, lined up as an H-back, and as a slot and wide receiver on occasion. He was frequently sent in motion before the snap and was used as both a check-down option and as a downfield threat.

Stover was primarily a blocker for Ohio State and for good reason. He has a good understanding of blocking schemes, and great competitive toughness. Stover is willing to block defensive linemen as well as defensive backs or linebackers. He understands where to be and does a good job of getting in position to block effectively. He has good technique, dropping his hips, playing with a wide base, getting under defenders’ pads and seeking inside leverage. He’s able to lose (very) slowly against edge defenders as well as uncoil his hips and drive smaller defenders off the ball. Stover is also an effective blocker on the move and was used to block on the perimeter on screen plays.

He’s also an effective receiver in his own right. Stover runs a reasonably diverse route tree and is a precise route runner within his limitations. He has enough short-area quickness to work back to the ball on stick or come-back routes, and does a good job of manipulating his route stem on intermediate routes. Stover has enough speed in the open field to threaten vertically and attack the seams between coverage zones. He also has solid ball skills at all ranges, doing a good job of locating and adjusting to the ball, as well as soft, reliable hands.

Weaknesses

  • Explosiveness
  • Agility
  • Length

Stover is a solid athlete for his size and build, but he isn’t an explosive one.

He appears to “roll” out of his stance and can take several steps before he hits his top speed. Likewise, his frame limits his agility in several areas of his game and he isn’t a particularly graceful athlete. Stover can round off his routes, which when combined with his modest acceleration, can make it difficult to separate from tight coverage. That can also lead to Stover occasionally being slightly out of position when blocking athletic defenders.

Stover also lacks length compared to the NFL archetype. Where some tight ends are built more like svelte tackles, Stover is built more along the lines of a guard. That doesn’t impact his blocking, but it does limit his catch radius.

Game Tape

(Stover is OSU TE number 8)

Projection

Cade Stover projects as a primary tight end at the NFL level.

He has a solid, well-rounded skill set and is a capable blocker as well as receiver. He’s a bit limited as an athlete and might be viewed closer to an H-back. He should be a three-down player at the NFL level and should be able to find a fit in pretty much any NFL offense.

Stover’s blocking will be appreciated in the running game, and he has the skill set to be a reliable security blanket for a quarterback or a weapon down the field. He isn’t a particularly graceful tight end, particularly when compared to some hybrid tight ends to come out of college in recent years.

Some teams may want to pair him with a tight end who’s more of a receiver in 12 personnel packages. However, Stover is capable of becoming a starting and primary tight end in an 11-personnel package.

Does he fit the Giants?
Yes. Stover is a good blocker and has the upside as a receiver to do most of what the Giants ask their tight ends to do.

Final Word: A Day 2 or very early Day 3 pick