One prospect who the Denver Broncos may show interest in during day two of the 2023 NFL Draft is South Dakota State tight end Tucker Kraft. He is a 6’5”, 254-pound tight end who is considered one of the top prospects at that position in this draft. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler has Kraft ranked as his fifth-best tight end in the draft and as his 51st overall prospect in the draft. He currently has a second-round grade on the big and athletic tight end.
Tucker Kraft played a total of four seasons at South Dakota State and was a productive member of their offense during that span. During his four-year career, he totaled 99 receptions for 1,218 yards, and 9 touchdown receptions. This past season, he totaled 27 receptions for 348 yards and 3 touchdown receptions.
TE Tucker Kraft (@TuckerKraft) missed a month and a half with an ankle injury— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) November 11, 2022
His 3 @GoJacksFB games since returning:
Weight: 253 pounds
40-time; 4.69 seconds (4.62 at his Pro Day)
Arm Length: 32 3⁄4 inches
Vertical Jump: 34 inches
Broad Jump: 10’2”
3-Cone Drill: 7.08 seconds
20-Yard Shuttle: 4.29 seconds
Bench Press: 23 reps
- Good size, strength, and length and just looks the part of an NFL tight end
- Plus agility, good speed, and is a smooth athlete
- Good ball skills and body control
- Reliable hands for the most part
- Runs with power and routinely broke tackles and ran through defensive backs in the second and third level
- Catches the ball and quickly turns upfield
- Was used a lot in the quick passing game and was effective at it
- Uses his plus strength to win blocks and win against defenders
- Displayed toughness in 2022 when he returned from an ankle injury quicker than expected
- High upside player
- Raw prospect who will need to grow to reach his potential but all the traits are there
- Has had some issues with drops, but overall has solid hands but that is a minor red flag
- Needs to work on the technical side of blocking instead of relying on just his strength
- Route running is not advanced
- Has dealt with injuries the past two seasons that have sidelined him (ankle injury in 22 and knee ligament injury in 21)
- Will see a big talent jump when entering the NFL
Tucker Kraft’s RAS
Tucker Kraft is a TE prospect in the 2023 draft class. He scored a 9.68 #RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 36 out of 1103 TE from 1987 to 2023. https://t.co/MuOvv1I6H0 pic.twitter.com/LZPoSUW5Xs— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 11, 2023
What other analysts are saying about South Dakota State tight end Tucker Kraft
A three-year starter at South Dakota State, Kraft was a hybrid tight end (inline, wing and slot) in the Jackrabbits’ balanced offense. After passing on lucrative NIL offers from programs like Alabama, he returned to Brookings in 2022 for what NFL scouts expected to be his breakout season, but an ankle injury in the first quarter of the opener vs. Iowa curtailed that plan (he still returned and helped the program win the 2022 FCS National Championship). As a pass catcher, Kraft is an outstanding catch-and-go creator with fluid adjustment skills and balanced feet. As a blocker, he might not be polished, but he gets after it with the body control and desire to sustain and finish blocks. Since 1976, South Dakota State has only produced two top-100 draft picks and both were tight ends (Dallas Goedert No. 49 overall in 2018 and Steve Heiden No. 69 in 1999) – Kraft should be the third. Overall, Kraft needs development time to refine his route running and blocking techniques, but he is big, strong and athletic with the ball skills and blocking tenacity to evolve into an NFL starter. His play style and talent are reminiscent of Foster Moreau. - The Athletic’s Dane Brugler
Combination tight end with the projectable skill set to handle pass-catching and run-blocking duties at the next level. Currently, he’s a more effective blocker in space than in-line, but that is correctable with better hand usage and proper angles of entry into his base blocks. Kraft provides formational versatility that will be appealing for teams that make heavy use of 12 personnel (two tight ends). He has the body control and catch toughness to be more than just a traditional Y tight end. Kraft has Day 2 talent and should see the field early with a chance to become a TE1. - NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein
Does South Dakota State tight end Tucker Kraft make sense for the Denver Broncos?
The Broncos have been sniffing around multiple tight end prospects throughout the draft process, so I think they could select one earlier than some might think. They even brought in potential first-round pick Luke Musgrave in for a pre-draft visit.
As we know, they selected Greg Dulcich in the third round last year, but he is more of a receiving threat than a blocker. With the Broncos expected to run the ball a bit this upcoming season, they are likely looking for someone who can assist there while also being a receiving threat. They did sign veteran blocking specialist Chris Manhertz, but he offers little as a receiver. So, they likely need the best of both worlds from their other tight end. That is why I believe they will be interested in Tucker Kraft.
He has the prototypical size and build you look for from a tight end with plus athleticism and ball skills on top of all that. His strength allows him to be effective as a blocker even though he needs work on the technical side of things. He is a small school prospect who is raw but has upside and is hoping to follow in the footsteps of former SDSU TE Dallas Goedert.
Now, he may not be available when the Broncos are first on the clock in the third round. He is projected by most as a day-two selection who is often off the board in the second round, but he could fall into the early third round. If he is available when the Broncos are on the clock, I could see him being among the prospect that they are considering.