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2022 Draft Profile: Wisconsin TE Jake Ferguson

Ferguson’s not built like the new-age, pseudo-wide-receiver tight end, but his college roles mesh with what HC Nathaniel Hackett wants to run

NCAA Football: Las Vegas Bowl-Wisconsin at Arizona State
TE Jake Ferguson showed lineup versatility during his four years at Wisconsin.
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Ferguson isn’t the most athletic tight end in the world. Most of his work at Wisconsin was done in the flat or over the middle, and not many defenders were outran down the sidelines. But the good thing for Ferguson is that Denver isn’t in dire need of a field-stretcher at the position with Albert Okwuegbunam already in house.

Measurables:

Height: 6-5

Weight: 246 pounds

40-time: 4.81 seconds

Ferguson played in an offense that used the tight end heavily, and he was relied upon his whole Wisconsin career in an offense that didn’t pass a ton. Over four years, he played in 47 games, starting 13 his freshman year. From his first to last year for the Badgers, Ferguson caught 36, 33, 30 (in seven games) then 46 catches. He never averaged more than 12.7 yards per catch in a season, and his longest college catch was 36 yards — both from his freshman year.

Ferguson played in a scheme that ran play action aplenty, which is something Hackett has said he wants to implement — “play pass,” as he calls it — off outside-zone concepts. The former Badger has experience staying into block on play action and going on routes, all the while lining up in a myriad of places, H-back, as a wing, in the slot — you name it. If Ferguson proves his speed isn’t a liability, TE/fullback Andrew Beck may become expendable.

Pros:

  • High floor
  • Can make people miss in the flat
  • Makes contested catches, both over the middle and on the sideline
  • Lined up everywhere at Wisconsin: in the slot, hand in the dirt and as a wing in the backfield
  • Magnet for first downs — you need 6, he gets 6. You need 12, he gets 12.
  • Experience blocking frequently in Wisconsin’s run-heavy offense

Cons:

  • Not much of a deep threat
  • Limited RAC ability
  • Not the true, modern TE mold — maybe is coming into league 10 years too late

Final thoughts:

It makes sense to get a TE like Ferguson as an early day-three pick if he’s still available. He doesn’t have All-Pro potential, but he could easily be someone who stays in the league for a decade-plus as a reliable low-end first-string tight end or a quality No. 2. His smarts, lineup versatility and sure hands makes him a marketable commodity, and Paton should think long and hard about bringing him in to complement — as Hackett put it this offseason — Denver’s “move” tight end in Albert O.