Speaking at the NFL Combine on Tuesday, general manager Joe Schoen hinted that salary cap-related roster moves were coming “sooner rather than later.” A day later, they began.
Among the players parting ways was two-time Pro Bowl tight end Kyle Rudolph, who played one season with the Giants after a distinguished decade in Minnesota. The Giants have two other tight ends – Evan Engram and Levine Toilolo – set to become unrestricted free agents on March 16.
Coincidentally, tight ends took the podium on Wednesday, a day before their on-field workouts.
View photos from Media Day as some of the top WR, TE, and QB prospects speak to reporters from the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
Here's a look at the top prospects and what they had to say:
Jalen Wydermyer, Texas A&M (No. 1 tight end according to NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks)
Height: 6-5 | Weight: 255 lbs.
- 2021 Mackey Award Finalist
- 2021 Coaches' All-SEC Second Team
- 2021 AP All-SEC Second Team
- 2020 All-SEC Second Team
- 2019 AP All-SEC Second Team
- 2019 SEC All-Freshman Team
The most frequent question you hear the combine every year is "What makes you the top prospect at your position?" What better place to start than NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah's top-ranked tight end on the first day of media interviews.
"They're all great tight ends, but I feel like I'm very versatile and I've played in all the big games and [against] all the great players," he said. "When you go back to 2019, I played the No. 1 team three times – Clemson, LSU and Alabama. So just all the experience I have playing against the players that are going crazy in the league right now [sets me apart]."
NFL.com scouting report: With the tight end position gaining prominence due to more dynamic athletes carving out roles as "jumbo" receivers, offensive coordinators are searching for NBA-sized pass-catchers to anchor their aerial attacks. Wydermyer is an intriguing prospect with a combination of A+ physical tools and superb instincts. The former Texas A&M star is a nightmarish matchup with his superior size, athleticism and ball skills enabling him to dominate defenders.
Trey McBride, Colorado State (No. 2)
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 249 lbs. | Arms: 32 5/8" | Hands: 10 1/8"
- 2021 John Mackey Award Winner
- 2021 Unanimous All-American (First in school history)
- 2021 PFF Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year
- 2020 All-Mountain West, 2nd Team
Last year, McBride led all FBS tight ends in receptions (90), yards (1,121), and yards per game (93.4). The yardage total was the fifth-most in a single season by an FBS tight end and the most in Mountain West history. The last play of his career was a 69-yard touchdown run vs. Nevada on a fake punt.
The only question on his resume is why he had just one receiving touchdown, which he answered today in front of the media - and likely dozens of teams during interviews.
"You watch the film, we were a big run team," he said. "We get in the red zone and we ran the ball. That's what our coach loved to do, and I had no problem with that as long as we were scoring touchdowns. I never argued, never wanted the ball more. Of course I'd want more touchdowns and things like that, but ultimately we were a run-first team and that's what we did. When we got in the red zone, we were 13, 14 personnel just running the football. And I had no issue with that."
Does he think he could blossom in that area in the NFL?
"I think I'm a guy who could be a threat in the red zone," he said. "I've been there before. I've had a lot of success in there. Just this past season, that kind of wasn't what we did."
NFL.com scouting report: Two-way tight end with the size, strength and ball skills to help impact games in-line and in space. McBride has room for improvement at the point of attack, but possesses the thickness and determination of a true, in-line blocker. He'll need to improve his angles and play strength to even out the wins and losses against NFL competition. McBride lacks top-end speed and quickness into the route, but he can snap off route breaks and has the body control and sticky hands to win contested catch battles. Long athletes could suffocate his catch space if he doesn't play with more physicality and aggression during the route. McBride is solid in all phases and should appeal to every team looking for a combination tight end with early starting potential.
Jeremy Ruckert, Ohio State (No. 3)
Height: 6-5 | Weight: 250 lbs. | Arms: 32 3/4" | Hands: 10 1/8"
- 2020 OSU Scholar-Athlete and Academic All-Big Ten
- 2019 OSU Scholar-Athlete and Academic All-Big Ten
- 2018 OSU Scholar-Athlete
Ruckert, a native of Lindenhurst, N.Y., said he hurt his foot last month at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
"It was plantar fasciitis," he said. "It wasn't really anything big, but I couldn't do anything for a couple of weeks. So, I didn't want to come out here and not be prepared or hurt it a little bit worse. Nothing serious. I'll try to get ready for my pro day on the 23rd."
He added, "I'm kind of bummed out not running [at the combine]. I wish I could have run for everybody. That's kind of the big question with me. But I'm going to be benching. I didn't want to come here and do nothing so I'll at least do the bench, talk to teams, do this stuff (media) and just try to get the most out of this. Stay positive throughout the whole process and get a good grasp of these interviews and try to kill those."
NFL.com scouting report: Muscular move tight end on the collegiate level who should be able to find a home as an in-line worker. Ruckert should test well creating a favorable height-weight-speed profile that could push him up draft boards. He blocks with good aggression, but can be a little inconsistent at the point of attack for now. He's not as explosive in his route-running as his testing might indicate but will catch what is thrown his way even though he might never be much of a volume target. He has TE2 potential and could become an average NFL starter.
Six WRs in Top 50
Daniel Jeremiah has six wide receivers in his Top 50 overall prospect rankings: No. 6 Garrett Wilson (Ohio State), No. 13 Drake London (USC), No. 14 Treylon Burks (Arkansas), No. 25 Jahan Dotson (Penn State), No. 26 Chris Olave (Ohio State), No. 27 Jameson Williams (Alabama).
With on-field drills set to begin Thursday, Wilson said he has to "prove some people wrong" about his 40-yard dash time. "I've seen what people are saying about what they think I'm going to run," he added, "and I'm excited to get out there and do what I do."
Williams, meanwhile, said he is six weeks removed from surgery after suffering a knee injury in the national championship against Georgia. And where was that game played? Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL Combine.
"[I] been walking well," Williams said. "Walking without the brace for two weeks. Walking without the crutches for three weeks. Been doing well. Just recently been getting running motion. Everything has just been going good really."
Williams added, "I hope [the injury] doesn't affect me, but I'm not sure how it affects me. At the end of the day, I just hope to get drafted. I hope a team takes a shot at me."
Will he be ready for training camp?
"It's s not something I'm going to rush," he said, "but hopefully it can happen."
London is also on the mend after suffering an ankle injury in his final season at USC. He said he started running a week ago and aims to do so at his pro day. "Give me like 15 more percent and I'll be 100," he said.
London, who also played on the Trojans' basketball team, was asked when he decided to give up on his NBA dream.
"It's still out there (laughing)," he said. "It's still out there, so who knows? Definitely focused on this right now."
Ole Miss QB recalls meeting Eli Manning
As for who will be throwing the ball to the receivers during their on-field workouts, Matt Corral is part of this year's quarterback class at the combine. The Ole Miss product knows all about fellow alumnus Eli Manning and the family.
"I actually hang out with his family quite a bit," he said. "Toward the beginning of my career at Ole Miss and toward the end when Arch was visiting. I was around the family, I was around Cooper a lot. The time I had that the school recorded us, that was a surprise. I had no idea Eli was going to be there. That took me by surprise. It was cool to be around a legend like that."
NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah released his final edition of the top 50 prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft.