Former Utah tight end Dalton Kincaid is expected to be the first Utah tie to be taken in the 2023 NFL draft at the end of April.

Some experts believe that Kincaid, who had 70 receptions for 890 yards and eight touchdowns last season, could even be the first tight end coming off the board.

Along with Kincaid, there’s also Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer, Oregon State’s Luke Musgrave and Georgia’s Darnell Washington leading most lists of the top tight ends in this year’s draft class.

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Here’s a sampling of what some NFL draft experts are saying about Kincaid with three weeks until the draft (April 27-29 in Kansas City):

Is Dalton Kincaid a top 10 prospect in the 2023 NFL draft?

NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah is bullish on Kincaid — earlier this week, he released the latest version of his top 50 prospects in this year’s draft, and Jeremiah moved Kincaid up two spots to No. 9. 

“Kincaid is a highly productive tight end with exceptional quickness, route polish and run-after-catch ability. At Utah, he typically lined up flexed in the slot. He is explosive in his release and is a smooth/fluid route runner. He gets up on the toes of defenders before snapping off his route and creating separation,” Jeremiah wrote about Kincaid. 

“He attacks the ball with his hands and can hold on after taking hard contact. After the catch, he has the burst, wiggle and strength to break tackles. In the run game, he is more of a shield-off blocker than a physical people-mover. Overall, Kincaid is a more explosive version of Zach Ertz coming out of college.”

During his “Move the Sticks” podcast, Jeremiah gave a positive update on Kincaid’s injury that forced him to miss the Utes’ bowl game and kept him out of drills at the NFL combine and Utah’s pro day.

“I know you can say he’s a little bit older,” Jeremiah said. “He had a back (injury), which I’m told he passed all his physicals. He’s fine there. When you turn on the tape, there’s not 10 players better than this dude in this draft.”

Is Dalton Kincaid the top tight end prospect in the 2023 NFL draft?

Kincaid and Mayer are seen by many draft experts as the top two tight ends in this year’s draft class, and there are some who are putting Kincaid at the top of that group.

Among them is NBC Sports’ Chris Simms, who puts Kincaid in Tier 1 by himself among all tight end prospects.

“(The) physical skills are off-the-charts good. First off, natural athlete. Great pair of legs. He’s not rocked up, but I have no problem with that. It’s just he’s like a big, strong, athletic guy,” Simms said in describing Kincaid during a Chris Simms “Unbuttoned” podcast episode this week. 

“… After the catch, he’s receiver-like. He gets upfield in an instant, he can make people miss. It’s not like that’s gonna be his No. 1 thing, breaking ankles, but he can weave and make you miss.”

Pro Football Focus’ Michael Renner also lists Kincaid atop the rankings of this year’s tight end class, and No. 15 overall on PFF’s 2023 draft big board.

“At 240 pounds, Kincaid bridges the gap between tight end and wide receiver. You’re not going to draft him for his blocking ability, but he’s at least serviceable in that regard,” Renner wrote. “No, Kincaid can be a focal point of an offense with his route-running ability after recording 70 catches for 890 yards at Utah last season.”

What stands out about Dalton Kincaid’s game?

As Renner noted, Kincaid’s skill set can make him a vocal point of an offense, though one aspect of his game that needs work is his blocking. 

The Athletic’s Nate Tice touched on that, saying, “His lack of ability to sustain blocks does show up. As a bit of an older prospect (he’ll turn 24 during his rookie season) with a frame that seems maxed-out, there’s not a clean path toward improvement.”

Tice added that Kincaid’s ball skills, including his ability to make tough catches, are what stand out from his film.

“He has natural hands and can comfortably snag the ball at all angles,” Tice wrote.

“... But his calling card is his pass-catching ability. If Kincaid can be at least a serviceable blocker at the next level — and keep defenses from countering with five-plus defensive backs when he’s on the field — he has real mismatch ability.”

Will Dalton Kincaid be a first-round pick?

Many mock draft projections have Kincaid going as early as the mid-first round to a team like the Green Bay Packers, Washington Commanders or Detroit Lions, while others see him sliding into the later in the first round to a team like the Los Angeles Chargers, Cincinnati Bengals or Dallas Cowboys.

The Ringer’s Danny Kelly has the Cowboys taking Kincaid at No. 26 overall in his latest mock draft, replacing another Utah tie, Dalton Schultz of Bingham High, who signed this offseason with the Houston Texans.

“After losing Dalton Schultz in free agency, the Cowboys turn to the draft to add a pass catching tight end,” Kelly wrote. “Kincaid’s a dynamic route runner who separates vs. coverage and picks up chunks of yards after the catch. Alongside CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, and the newly acquired Brandin Cooks, Kincaid will give Dak Prescott another seam-running threat up the middle of the field.”

Kelly called Kincaid a “mismatch-creating tight end” whose playmaking traits stand out — he lauded Kincaid for his ability to make a play after the catch as well.

“Kincaid is an easy mover who can sink his hips and cut on a dime to create separation in his routes. He plays with a controlled tempo and natural balance, bringing top-tier body control when the ball is in the air,” Kelly wrote.

There are some prognostications, though, that see Kincaid sliding out of the first round and into the early second, perhaps allowing a team like the Las Vegas Raiders to grab him in the second round’s first few picks.

ESPN’s Matt Bowen explains why he thinks Kincaid could be a perfect fit in Las Vegas, even if it means he slips into the second round at pick No. 38.

“The Raiders added Austin Hooper in free agency, and he’ll be the in-line tight end in Josh McDaniels’ offense. But I think the Raiders could still use a true seam-stretcher like Kincaid, who can work all three levels of the route tree and has catch-and-run ability,” Bowen wrote. “That’s where I see McDaniels deploying Kincaid as a flex target in both 12 and 11 personnel, with the play-action concepts opening up those voids for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.”  

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