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Colts Position Group Previews: Tight Ends

Image: Zach Bolinger/Associated Press

It’s not easy being a tight end in today’s NFL. TEs across the league are tasked with playing in the slot, along the line of scrimmage, to pass catch, block, and to act.  Unless they’re Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, or George Kittle, TEs typically aren’t thought of as immediate threats to defenses. Nevertheless, tight-end play is pivotal to the success of the play action. Recently, the Colts haven’t made any major attempts to upgrade the position. Since this is the case, what should we expect of the team’s current group of tight ends? 


Colts rookie TE Jelani Woods returns to lineup to post career-bests in receptions, yards

Image: Indianapolis Colts

The Starter: Jelani Woods

Leading up to the 2022 NFL draft Virginia TE Jelani Woods slowly crept up draft boards. He’s a gargantuan human being at 6’7” 253lbs leaving the mind to wander about his potential. For his size, Woods tested fairly well at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine and throughout the draft process leading the Colts to select him early in the third round. Unfortunately in his rookie season, Woods wasn’t provided much of an opportunity to showcase his potential. In the end, he totaled a couple of TDs and a couple hundred receiving yards. There isn’t any indication so far this summer he’s progressed much in his development, but given his size and athleticism alone, it’s difficult to expect him not to see the field as the starter. 


Colts news: Kylen Granson starting to make big plays after slow start

Image: IndyStar

The Backup: Kylen Granson

Granson is another tight end the Colts recently expended draft capital on. Drafted in the fourth round during the 2021 NFL Draft, Granson also hasn’t had much opportunity to display his talents. He’s a bit smaller for a traditional tight end at only 6’2” however, he’s arguably the best route-running TE on the Colts roster. For this reason, I believe he’ll be the backup as he’d be a good change of pace from Woods. In the end, Jelani Woods may be more balanced between the run and pass games but expect Granson to be nipping at his heels for the starting job. 


Image: 247 Sports

The Rest: Mo Alie-Cox and Will Mallory

Unfortunately for Will Mallory, I don’t expect him to make the opening-day roster. He has the potential to, but if he does it would be in a special teams role. Nevertheless, I expect the Colts to take the more traditional approach by bringing on three tight ends with the third being Mo Alie-Cox. Like the other TEs on the roster, Alie-Cox is nothing special. He has experience and blocks well but has difficulty getting open in the passing game. He’s another large target at 6’5” 267lbs, but is sluggish getting downfield. I may have him projected to be third on the depth chart, but he has just as good a chance as Granson to eventually be the starter. 


Dark Horse Candidate: Will Mallory

If Kylen Granson isn’t the most dangerous receiving TE on the roster, it would have to be Will Mallory. With this being said, the only reason why I gave the third spot to Alie-Cox is due to how young Granson and Woods are. If the Colts are to bring on those two, they’ll need a veteran like Alie-Cox to guide them in the right direction. Still, Mallory’s chances to make the roster aren’t slim to none. As I explained in my Colts Draft Grade article, Mallory is a very good route runner but is weak when asked to block, especially against defensive linemen and blitzing LBs. 


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