Position: Tight end
Weight: 235 pounds
School: UCLA Bruins
Caleb Wilson 2019 NFL Draft Profile
Caleb Wilson enters the draft having finished his junior season at UCLA. Going into college he was a three-star recruit out of Gardena, CA with only three offers, including UCLA, (the other two were Central Arkansas and Old Dominion). At Serra High he was actually sharing quarterback duties with Khalil Tate before converting to tight end.
Over his three years in Westwood, he turned himself into the go-to receiver in tough situations for three different quarterbacks. As a sophomore, with Josh Rosen at quarterback, Wilson had 38 catches for 490 in just five games, missing much of the season with an injury. He had 15 catches for 208 yards in the season opener against Texas A&M.
In his junior season, Wilson finished with 60 receptions for 965 yards and four touchdowns. He became the primary receiver in “must-have” situations for freshman quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, as well as grad transfer quarterback Wilton Speight. Wilson averaged 16 yards per catch as a junior with a long of 66 yards. He was named All-Pac 12.
Wilson also became one of the on-field leaders, when as a junior, he was one of the more game-experienced players on what was one of the four youngest teams in the country. He was frequently one of the players head coach Chip Kelly would put in the post-game press conference as a face and voice of the team.
- Very good at finding the open window in a zone defense and having the patience to sit for the pass;
- Boxes out defenders in man-to-man coverage in underneath coverage;
- Catches very well through contact;
- Good receiver type/technique hands for a tight end;
- While he lacks explosive burst after the catch, he is very good with body control and turning upfield for more yards;
- Strong for his frame;
- Good route runner.
- Not a particularly strong blocker for a tight end;
- Needs to add mass to be an NFL tight end;
- Doesn’t have great lateral quickness which is an issue on pass blocking;
- Doesn’t lower his pads/shoulders to take on smaller defensive backs after a catch;
- NFL scouts we have talked to via third-person contacts say he needs to improve basic blocking techniques.
NFL Comparison: Jimmy Graham
Projection: Early to mid-fourth round
While Wilson certainly has many skills, he also is a bit of a tweener. He has the possession and route skills, but not the speed of an out receiver. He has the hand strength and boxing out skills, but not the blocking ability or physical frame of a prototypical NFL tight end.
This is a good, if not elite, draft for tight ends. There are two from Iowa alone, Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson, that figure to go in the top three among the position. That puts Wilson anywhere from fourth to sixth among the tight ends. It did not help that he had a very mediocre Senior Bowl in front of the NFL scouts. He had four catches for 24 yards but also had an unconscionable fumble along the sidelines.
UCLA coach Chip Kelly regularly vows for Wilson’s work ethic. If Wilson can improve significantly in his blocking, he can fit into the new model of NFL tight end that is equal parts receiver and blocker. The best home for him now would be a place where he goes in as a number two tight end so that he gets some work and development for a year or two before being called upon to be the guy.