This year’s crop of tight end prospects is viewed as the deepest in recent memory, and one of its headliners is set to meet with the Patriots this week.
Utah’s Dalton Kincaid has a top-30 visit with New England scheduled for Thursday, according to a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Arguably the best pure receiving tight end in the 2023 NFL Draft, Kincaid garnered comparisons to Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz after catching 70 passes for 890 yards and eight touchdowns last season. He’s a projected first-round pick and could be the first tight end selected, with Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer also in the running for that distinction.
Here’s what we wrote about Kincaid in our rundown of potential Patriots tight end targets:
He led all FBS tight ends in catches and receiving yards per game in 2022 — narrowly topping Mayer in both categories — while forcing 16 missed tackles. He’s remarkably sure-handed, too, with just four dropped passes across 55 collegiate appearances. The knock on Kincaid, as with Kelce, is his blocking ability. NFL Media’s Lance Zierlein called him a “liability” in that area. He’s also coming off a back injury that sidelined him for most of the pre-draft process.
Kincaid has since been “cleared to play football with no restrictions,” according to a doctor’s note shared by Schefter.
More than 20% of Kincaid’s receptions in 2022 came in one game: a 16-catch, 234-yard, one-touchdown eruption in an October win over USC. He played three seasons at Utah after beginning his college career at FCS San Diego and was a team captain as a senior. The 23-year-old measured in at 6-foot-3 1/2, 246 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine and did not participate in drills due to his injury.
The Patriots have a clear need at tight end with Hunter Henry and newcomer Mike Gesicki both entering contract years. But how they plan to address that need will determine whether Kincaid is a desirable option.
Henry and especially Gesicki aren’t known for their blocking ability, so if New England wants a third tight end who can contribute more in the run game, it’ll probably look elsewhere. Mayer, Georgia’s Darnell Washington, Oregon State’s Luke Musgrave, South Dakota State’s Tucker Kraft and Michigan’s Luke Schoonmaker all are considered average to above-average blockers.
But if the Patriots just want another pass-catching weapon to add to Mac Jones’ arsenal, then Kincaid could be in play. It’d take a heavy investment in draft capital to land him, however, as he’s expected to come off the board in the mid-to-late first round. A double dip at the position also is possible.
New England owns the 14th overall pick. Bill Belichick has not drafted a tight end in Round 1 since Ben Watson in 2004.