- College: Utah
- Height: 6’4″ | Weight: 242 lbs.
- Age: 23.3-year-old Senior
- Archetype: RAC Weapon | Modifier: Movable-H
- Games Watched (2022): Ohio State, Florida, San Diego State, UCLA, Washington State, USC (x2), and Oregon.
- NFL Draft Projection: Top-50 selections, potential first-round pick
Dalton Kincaid is the current active leader in career yards for TEs in college football. Unranked as a high school prospect, Kincaid is a fifth-year Senior who spent his first two seasons at the University of San Diego. Following a breakout 44-catch, 835-yard true sophomore campaign, Kincaid transferred to the University of Utah. Despite playing a reserve role in his first season in Salt Lake City, Kincaid’s put himself on draft radars in 2021, mainly splitting work in a TE-friendly offense with Brant Kuithe.
Already primed for a jump in production in 2022, Kincaid’s need to dominate targets ballooned after Kuithe was lost for the season with a knee injury in Week 4. Now the primary target in an offense still geared to TE production, Kincaid had a terrific final season. A finalist for the Mackey award and first-team All-PAC12, Kincaid was able to shoulder a big target load for Utah in 2022. Highlighted by a 16-catch, 234-yard effort in Utah’s regular season victory over the Trojans, Kincaid is amongst the few fifth-year players pushing toward a first-round selection.
Currently, the tenth overall ranked player by NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah, Kincaid is rising boards in one of the best TE classes in years. An entertaining film study, he has tools that separate him from this talented TE group. Let’s take a look at the TE-receiving leader in 2022.
An incredibly fluid mover for a tight end, Kincaid creates separation through speed and suddenness better than anyone in this strong TE class. Utilized at all three levels of the field for the Utes, Dalton has a good understanding of timing and space within play concepts. While still capable of winning with strength and leverage, Kincaid’s success from various alignments separates him from the other top rookie TEs for fantasy purposes. Primarily flexed wide or in the slot and often in motion, Kincaid ran a varied route tree and was a first or secondary read on most Utah passing concepts.
Fourth down and ten yards to go, QB Cameron Rising knows where to go with the ball. Kincaid does a great job of threatening deep and getting beyond the sticks before returning to the ball. Nickle corner Bennett Williams is appropriately positioned, but Kincaid wins with a physical move at the breakpoint. With Williams now off-balance, Kincaid sheds the tackle quickly and gains the extra yard he needs to convert.
Kincaid is a sure-handed player who rarely is charged with a dropped pass. Additionally, he has the flexibility and balance to adjust to off-target throws. A talented ball-tracker on downfield throws, Kincaid’s athletic traits create a wider catch radius than you may assume with the shorter height.
A simple seam route against cover-2, Kincaid’s speed is a tough assignment for the USC linebacker. However, former Alabama transfer Shane Lee does an adequate job staying in Dalton’s hip pocket. Cameron Rising has a high level of trust in his veteran TE and throws a perfect pass for Kincaid to attack at the highest point.
Kincaid runs a slot fade and Rising again trusts his best player to make a play. Initially ruled out of bounds but overturned upon replay, an incredible display of body control and balance to elevate to the throw while getting a foot down. Kincaid seemed to make every play presented to him in this USC contest, so attached is the easy play-action TD that capped off the drive for Kincaid and the Utes. A truly dominant performance that will be Exhibit A for any team looking to select him in the first 31 picks.
Yards After Catch
Another skill set that elevates Kincaid’s profile in this robust TE class is his ability to create yards after the catch. Incredibly slippery in the open field, with an array of broken tackles, stiff arms, and cutbacks, no tight end in this class is more dangerous with the ball in their hands.
A simple play-action boot that matches the QB’s action with Kincaid’s drag route leads to an easy completion. Another comfortable adjustment to a high throw, and now with the catch secured, his attention turns upfield. Sure-tackling veteran linebacker Ventrell Miller fails to get Kincaid down on first contact. Rashad Torrence II, another talented defender with a Combine Invite, is easily sidestepped. While Kincaid cannot make the last defender miss, I appreciate that he is annoyed he couldn’t find the end zone. YAC creation is as much a mentality as an ability. Kincaid shows a willingness on film to sacrifice his body to maximize his touches.
While I’ve noted how Kincaid has separated himself as an athlete, route runner, and YAC creator, we are evaluating him within a grander draft class. A capable blocker at the second and third levels of the defense, Kincaid shows a willingness on film to block. He can easily latch and control smaller defenders using the same explosive athletic traits that make him a strong route runner. However, in the rare instances where he played Inline-Y and was asked to secure the point of attack, he was often overmatched.
We do not credit fantasy points to blocking ability or snap counts. We do, however, assign value to draft capital. With the other two premium TEs, Michael Mayer and Darnell Washington, offering far more robust blocking skill sets, I think this is worthwhile exploring before the NFL Draft. Will NFL teams value the pass-catching experience and fluid route running of a player like Kincaid over the more traditional TE archetype?
- Upside Prospect Comp: Greg Olsen
- Floor Prospect Comp: Brent Celek
- Rookie Position Ranking: TE1
- SuperFlex Draft Range: Middle-Late 2nd Round
Michael Mayer and Kincaid are in a heated race for TE1 in 2023, and while their landing spots could swing my opinion, Kincaid should be the first TE off the board in your rookie draft. I expect it’s likely that at least one tight end goes before Kincaid on Draft weekend. However, several will go in the first 50 picks, draft capital requisite of a TE worth valuing highly in dynasty leagues. Independent of his landing spot, he has the skill set most ready to be featured early in his NFL career.
The availability of tight ends across dynasty leagues is not plentiful. There is already hype surrounding this TE class, and we could see multiple TEs selected in the NFL Draft’s first round. However, TE tends to be a slow transition from college to the NFL. For dynasty managers, this often leads to neutral value or even a loss in value through the first year or two of a player’s career. Kincaid is not exceptionally different. Managers may be tempted to reach on the first TE off the board, and if that ends up being Kincaid, I may not invest aggressively. However, he headlines a class that should feature several fantasy hits and represents the best odds at immediate success. Feel free to pull the trigger if he’s on the board in the middle of the second round of SuperFlex drafts.
NFL Combine starts this week, and there has never been a better time to begin diving deep into all these rookies. For all you hands-on dynasty managers, few things can replicate the value of getting eyes on these players yourself. The Prospect Film Room has you covered, with All-22 film cutups of your favorite prospects continuously being added. The 2023 Rookie Profile series is in full swing for those looking for our film evaluations. Click the link for all the great work done by the #NerdsStaff. Give yourself the gift of relentless dominance in your leagues with a NerdHerd subscription.