Utah Utes tight end Dalton Kincaid has one of the most unusual stories in the 2023 NFL Draft. Years after being a walk-on at the University of San Diego, the All-Pac-12 selection could now be a first-round pick in the NFL Draft.
The 2023 draft class at tight end is deeper than we’ve seen in recent years. Kincaid and Michael Mayer are projected Round 1 selections who could make immediate contributions at the next level. While many young tight ends typically struggle in their first NFL season, Kincaid could be the exception.
Below, we’ll provide you with an overview of everything you need to know about Kincaid’s path to the 2023 NFL Draft and how he might fare in his professional career.
Dalton Kincaid measurables
- Dalton Kincaid height: 6-foot-4
- Dalton Kincaid weight: 246 pounds
- Dalton Kincaid 40 time: 4.7 seconds
Let’s dive into our Dalton Kincaid scouting report and NFL projection.
Dalton Kincaid stats and background
Kincaid only played a single season of high school football at Faith Lutheran before finding his way to San Diego. He joined the TOreros as a walk-on tight end, hoping to carve out a role for the FCS program.
He played 12 games in his freshman season, averaging 15.6 yards per catch with 11 touchdowns on 24 receptions. The following year, he led all FCS tight ends in yards per catch (18.98) and earned AP FCS All-American honors after snagging 44 receptions for 835 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in 12 contests with San Diego.
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The 6-foot-4 tight end then transferred, finding an opportunity to play at Power 5 program. After playing in just one game during the 2020 season, Kincaid put himself on the map nationally as one of the most productive tight ends in college football over the last three seasons.
|Dalton Kincaid stats||Receptions||Rec. Yards||TDs||YPC|
Kincaid thrived in the Utes’ offense. Playing for a team that relies heavily on using multiple tight ends, he finished third on the team in receptions and third in receiving yards during the 2021 season. Incredibly, he nearly matched wide receiver Britain Covey’s production (514 receiving yards) on 16 fewer receptions. Kincaid also led the Utes in receiving touchdowns and finished second in yards per catch (14.2).
As a 23-year-old, Kincaid became the focal point of Utah’s passing game. He led the team in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns, all while ranking thirds in yards per catch. It earned him first-team All-Pac-12 honors and further solidified his status as one of the best tight ends in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Statistics courtesy of College Football Reference, ESPN, and Pro Football Focus
Dalton Kincaid scouting report
Outside of Darnell Washington, the 2023 NFL Draft class at tight end is headlined by offensive weapons. Kincaid is the perfect example, with his best contributions all coming as a pass-catcher who can make plays before and after the catch.
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Kincaid’s background in basketball is evident when watching him on the football field. Like a forward waiting to snag a rebound, he does an excellent job tracking the ball mid-air and putting himself in the best position possible to snag it.
One of Kincaid’s many standout abilities as an offensive weapon is just how much of a quarterback-friendly target he makes himself. Body positioning and aggressiveness help put him in a favorable position to make the catch, whether he’s stationary or mid-stride on a route anywhere on the field.
Unlike Mayer, who is more like Jason Witten, Kincaid can burn defenses once he gets the football in his hands. He generated the third-most missed tackles forced (16) among FBS tight ends. He is also capable of making plays all over the field, finishing with the second-most receiving yards (187) on deep passes.
Kincaid is going to win against NFL offenses in a variety of ways. The nation’s leader in yards per route run (2.55) also recorded the seventh-most contest catches (nine) in college football last season.
He’s simply the complete package as a pass-catcher and he offers some of the best hands (1.5 percent drop rate) in the 2023 NFL Draft class. Simply put him on the field and you’ve added a dynamic weapon to an NFL offense.
The biggest knock on Kincaid, besides that he isn’t the prototypical height for the position, is his blocking. Utah rarely trusted him as a blocker when they used him as an in-line tight end. While he is willing to do it, NFL coordinators and quarterbacks will prefer him functioning out of the slot or even playing outside at times.
- Dalton Kincaid draft grade: 82/100
- Dalton Kincaid draft projection: Round 1
NFL projection for Dalton Kincaid
It’s obvious why many around the NFL view Kincaid as a first-round talent and arguably the best tight end in the 2023 draft class. While he might not be as safe of a pick or well-rounded as Mayer, the modern version of tight ends could make him the better NFL player.
NFL comparisons on Kincaid vary, ranging from Zach Ertz to Greg Dulcich, but his role in a pro-style offense is clear. Limit his usage as an in-line blocker and allow him to make plays all over the field. Depending on how utilized he is in the passing game, Kincaid could become a 1,000-yard producer during his peak seasons.
As far as his best fits with teams, it’s all personal preference. He would be an excellent complementary option for teams like the Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins, Green Bay Packers, Los Angeles Chargers and Seattle Seahawks.
Clubs like the Las Vegas Raiders and Detroit Lions would love it if he makes it to the early second round, but that now seems increasingly unlikely. Instead, he projects as a first-round pick who will be very productive as a rookie if partnered with a quarterback like Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Geno Smith or Jared Goff
While there is typically a steep learning curve for rookie tight ends, Kincaid has a legitimate chance to be the rare exception. He won’t win Offensive Rookie of the Year, but he could have one of the best stat lines in the 2023 rookie class.
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