2022 NFL Draft Rookie Profile: Greg Dulcich (Fantasy Football)
Like most draft classes, the focus throughout the last few months have primarily been on the running back and wide receiver positions. That should not come as a surprise as the talent level is significantly higher for those groups, especially in this year’s draft. However, despite not having a Kyle Pitts in this class, there are multiple intriguing Tight End prospects who were extremely productive throughout their collegiate careers and are set to be drafted within the first two days of the draft. One of those players is UCLA’s Greg Dulcich, who currently ranks as the Fantasy Footballers’ TE2 in this class. A versatile receiver, Dulcich should be a day 2 pick at the latest after operating as one of the most productive tight ends in the nation since 2020.
Editors Note: This article is part of our Rookie Profile series going on until the 2022 NFL Draft. For more on each rookie, check out Andy, Mike, and Jason’s exclusive rookie rankings and production profiles found only in the Dynasty Pass, part of the UDK+ for 2022.
College Production Profile
Greg Dulcich started his collegiate career as a walk-on at UCLA after receiving very little interest from other programs. As a result, his first two seasons were relatively quiet. He redshirted his true freshman season, totaling only 1 reception and 6 receiving yards. In his redshirt-freshman year, his involvement would improve slightly, though far from the level of production you would like to see from an NFL-caliber prospect. He only averaged 8.1% of the team’s receiving yards, not hitting any of the breakout thresholds in his first two seasons at UCLA. Keep in mind that Dulcich was a former wide receiver; and at this point in his career, he was still fairly new to the position.
From a prospect evaluation standpoint, we generally want to see players breaking out as early as possible. Otherwise, they would have to absolutely dominate in their final seasons to salvage their profile. Dulcich did exactly that as he operated as one of the most productive Tight Ends in the nation for two years straight. Starting off with his Junior year, in a COVID shortened season, he would triple his market share and dominator rating from the year before, accounting for nearly a third of the team’s receiving offense. He would finish the season with a career-high 32.9% receiving yards market share and 2.58 receiving yards per team pass attempt. Also, another interesting fact about this season is that he led all Power 5 tight ends in both of those metrics, ahead of Kyle Pitts – who was in his final year at Florida. And to top off his career, Dulcich would return for his redshirt-Junior year in 2021, once again leading all Power-5 tight ends in a handful of categories including the two metrics I mentioned above.
Lastly, it is important to note that unlike running backs and wide receivers, a tight end’s peak season has a higher correlation to NFL Fantasy Points per game than their career average. In other words, we want to see a prospect dominate their competition at least once during their collegiate career. To put that into numerical terms, finishing with at least 2.00 receiving yards per team pass attempt as a tight end would classify as a dominant season. The fact that Dulcich achieved this twice is just extremely impressive. And assuming he is indeed selected within the first three rounds, his overall profile becomes extremely intriguing for fantasy purposes.
One of my favorite TEs in the 2022 class?
Greg Dulcich – UCLA
In 2020, Dulcich led all P5 TEs in (per game):
▫️ Rec Yds Market Share (32.9%)
▫️ Rec Yds per Team Pass Att (2.58)
… ahead of Kyle Pitts
He would follow that up in 2021 leading all P5 TEs again in both metrics pic.twitter.com/VloIE8OBA3
— Marvin Elequin (@FF_MarvinE) April 6, 2022
Among all the skill positions, athleticism matters the most for tight ends. As an example, height-adjusted speed score (which combines a player’s 40-time, height, and weight) has a 14.9% correlation to early-career (Years 1-3) PPR points per game among all drafted prospects since 2013. That is higher than some of the production and efficiency metrics that I mentioned above. This tells us that above-average athleticism is almost crucial in order to truly make an impact at the NFL level. And while Dulcich’s 99.1-speed score ranks in the 63rd percentile per PlayerProfiler, we generally want to see a tight end exceed that +100 mark. In fact, among the 53 drafted tight ends in my database who scored a less than 100 adjusted speed score, only 5.7% would average at least 8 PPR points per game in their first three NFL seasons:
And while those three players likely present the ceiling for Dulcich, this does raise some concerns about his overall profile. The good news is that if we isolate it to only day two prospects, the players above remain on the list and the odds increase to 20%. But regardless of how you spin it, it is evident that Dulcich’s athletic measurables should have come in slightly better.
What’s on Tape
If you followed along with my weekly Dynasty Report, you might already be familiar with my film-evaluation process. In short, I watch 4 to 6 games, taking notes on nearly every offensive snap that the player was involved in. Let’s dive in!
Games Viewed: 2020 vs USC, 2021 vs Hawaii, 2021 vs California, 2021 vs LSU, 2021 vs ASU
1. Dulcich was relied upon heavily as a move TE in his final two years at UCLA
One of Dulcich’s strongest traits is his natural ability to operate as a receiver. Running routes and reeling in receptions looked effortless for Dulcich in his final two years with the Bruins, likely in part due to his background as a former wide receiver. As a result, the UCLA coaching staff leveraged this skillset heavily, allowing Dulcich to run a variety of routes on the field. What impressed me the most was his ball-tracking skillset, at times just plucking the pass mid-air despite what seemed to be an off-target throw. So whenever UCLA needed to move the chains, Dulcich was one of the top options for their offense. And for fantasy purposes, this could translate into immediate production for your dynasty teams assuming his future NFL team continues to use him creatively out of the slot.
2. Dulcich was a reliable target, especially in the middle of the field
One of the most intriguing qualities of Dulich’s game is simply his reliability. Especially against zone coverage, he routinely found the soft spot in the zone and altered his routes to cater to the defensive coverage. I was also impressed by his awareness of the field. Whether it was adjusting his route to align with the first down marker or making sure he stayed in bounds near the sideline for additional yards after the catch, Dulcich found ways to maximize his opportunities. In other words, he was one of the most trusted targets for UCLA. And while he certainly is capable of generating big plays (more on that below), his consistency as a pass-catcher in the short and intermediate game will be equally important in building trust with his future QB and offensive coordinator.
3. Dulcich generated big plays as a deep threat and through his YAC ability
Tight ends who have the ability to stretch the field or simply extend plays after the catch can be extremely valuable for an NFL offense. And for fantasy purposes, those are the players that present the highest upside in your lineup every week. Dulcich could fit that mold as he showed glimpses in the deep game with enough speed to blow past LBs on downfield routes. In addition, he also showcased an ability to gain yards after the catch by leveraging his aforementioned speed to gain separation, or by using his elusiveness to make defenders miss. We also see his explosiveness reflected in his production profile, averaging an impressive 17.6 yards per reception in his four years at UCLA. In fact, he led the PAC-12 in YPR in 2020, while also finishing 2nd in that metric in 2021. In short, Dulcich’s big-play ability gives him significant upside at the next level, assuming he continues to be used as a versatile receiver.
What’s Not on Tape
1. Consistency in Pass Protection and as a Blocker
While Dulcich had some positive moments as a pass protector and blocker, he also showed some inconsistency in this facet of the game. He struggled the most staying in front of quicker defenders, which was surprising considering the athletic ability that he displayed as a receiver. And because of this, there were a few instances where Dulcich was nearly holding his defender, risking a flag being thrown and negating the play entirely. On a positive note, I found that Dulcich was a lot more successful blocking as an in-line TE versus blocking out of the slot/downfield. And while there is room for improvement, Dulcich was always engaged as a blocker, not shying away from contact. So while the results are mixed, there are enough positive signs that lead me to believe that Dulcich could continue to improve as a blocker in the NFL.
2. Overpowering Defenders with his Strength
For someone who weighs over 240 pounds, I was surprised at how very few yards after contact Dulcich gained in the games that I reviewed. In fact, he was usually down at the first point of contact. By contrast, Trey McBride out of Colorado State frequently broke tackles in the open field (albeit against lesser competition). For Dulcich, that was just not part of his game on a consistent basis. He mainly relied on his elusiveness to evade the defender as opposed to using his physicality to gain additional yards. There was one specific play against Arizona State (2021) that comes to mind where he gained a tremendous amount of YAC in the screen game, taking the ball into the red zone, but was unable to fight through contact for the touchdown. Keep in mind that Dulcich has only been a TE for a few years, gaining nearly 40 pounds since his freshman season to accommodate the rigors of the position. Therefore, it would not surprise me if he continues to add to his frame as he enters the NFL, potentially improving this aspect of his game.
To summarize his profile, Dulcich was one of the most productive tight ends in the nation over the last two seasons. His final two years truly set him apart in this draft class, finishing top-3 in a variety of production metrics. In fact, Dulcich leads this class in career receiving yards market share (23.4% per game), while also ranking 2nd in career receiving yards per team pass attempt (1.87 per game). And while his athletic profile was not the most impressive, draft capital will ultimately dictate his odds of producing for your dynasty rosters. And according to The Mock Draft Database, Dulich seems to be trending as a 3rd round pick with teams such as the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles being two of the most popular destinations. Interestingly, both of those teams ranked in the top-10 in 12 personnel in 2021, which means that Dulcich could have a role in two-TE sets even with an established player like Dallas Goedert already on the team. If he does get selected by round three, I would be more than comfortable taking him as early as the 3rd round in my dynasty rookie drafts. Especially if the best wide receiver and running back prospects left on the board are day-three picks, I would much rather bank on a prospect with a productive profile and higher draft capital who could be a difference-maker in my fantasy lineups.