Amongst the mullets and mayhem down in Myrtle Beach, the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers had their first prospect drafted to the NFL since 2017 when the Philadelphia Eagles selected Tarron Jackson in Round 6. As we look forward to the college football season, more potential prospects come from the program in the 2022 NFL Draft, including tight end Isaiah Likely. Once an unranked and under-recruited wide receiver, his unlikely journey to college football could end with him being one of the top tight ends in the class.
Isaiah Likely NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Tight End
- School: Coastal Carolina
- Current Year: Senior
- Height: 6’4″
- Weight: 245 pounds
Isaiah Likely Scouting Report
There are two elements about Likely’s game that stands out when writing his 2022 NFL Draft scouting report.
First, the Coastal Carolina tight end has impressive athleticism for his 6’4″, 245-pound frame. He’s deceptively fast and has demonstrated the ability to get open as a vertical threat. While describing him as explosive is a bit of a stretch, Likely does show quick feet and a change-of-direction ability that he can use to make a man miss in the open field. As a result, he has been able to add value after the catch for the Chanticleers.
In addition to his athletic ability to make defenders miss, Likely possesses decent physicality to shake off tackles and withstand contact. Thus, he isn’t easy to bring down. Furthermore, his physicality shows up in contested-catch situations where he can outmuscle his man to come down with the ball.
Another element of his contested-catch prowess is his hand strength. If there are dropped catches on his tape, they aren’t in the games I’ve watched. When the ball is catchable, the Coastal Carolina tight end is coming down with it. This was best showcased on a one-hand catch under pressure that most players would have dropped. Not only did Likely catch it, but he fought through contact to ensure no lost yardage.
Versatility is an NFL buzzword, and Coastal’s offensive system ensures that Likely is as versatile as they come. He has snaps as an in-line tight end, move TE in the slot position, and also out wide as a traditional wide receiver.
Areas for improvement
There might not be a better route-running tight end in the class than Likely. As such, he is a dangerous threat in the passing game.
However, to be considered a genuine all-around prospect, he’ll need to develop his blocking ability. Although the nature of the Coastal offense requires him to be involved as a blocker, it isn’t an area where he receives a deal of praise.
If Likely can bring the physicality that he demonstrates in contested-catch situations to the table as a blocker, he can elevate his draft stock.
Likely’s Player Profile
Likely’s rise to being a top tight end in the 2022 NFL Draft is almost as unforeseen as Coastal Carolina’s emergence as one of the most talked-about teams in the 2020 college football season. Although he was ranked as a two-star recruit by 247 Sports, the pass catcher from Cambridge, Massachusetts, was unranked by the composite that combines the major recruiting sites. Furthermore, he received the position-less “athlete” moniker and only ranked as the 172nd athlete in the 2018 recruiting class.
That’s not to say that he couldn’t play. During his junior season at Everett High School, Likely racked up 917 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. As a senior, he snagged 10 touchdowns as Everett ranked No. 1 overall in the state and landed a Division I Super Bowl.
Despite his production, his offers were predominantly from smaller local schools like Sacred Heart, Rhode Island, and UMass. The situation perplexed Everett head coach John DiBiaso, as he explained in an interview with the Boston Herald.
“I told college coaches that he’s got the potential to play in the NFL, but only one coach believed me.”
That coach was Jamey Chadwell. While every other program recruited Likely as a wide receiver, the then Coastal offensive coordinator envisioned him playing tight end for the Chanticleers. They offered him in November 2017, and Likely made the nearly 900-mile move to Myrtle Beach for the following season.
Likely’s career at Coastal Carolina
Despite a lukewarm start to his Coastal career, Likely began to catch fire towards the end of the 2018 camapign. He saw his first touchdown pass early in the season against Louisiana, but his performances over the final three games caught the attention of the nation.
Of his 106 yards and 5 touchdowns as a freshman, 57 yards and 4 touchdowns came at the end of the year. The Coastal tight end earned team Offensive Player of the Week honors following a 2-touchdown performance against Georgia Southern.
Likely carried that momentum into his sophomore season. Earning six starts, he racked up 431 receiving yards on 32 receptions while adding another 5 touchdowns to his résumé. His performances garnered national recognition with a spot on the Mackey Award watchlist while landing on the All-Sun Belt third-team. As he had as a freshman, the Coastal tight end finished the season in style, registering a then-career-high 107 receiving yards and a touchdown against Troy.
Likely makes junior season jump to being an NFL Draft prospect
Despite playing through injury in 2020, Likely’s profile sky-rocketed as the Chanticleers received national attention. Although he saw fewer receptions than in 2019, he upped his production to 517 yards while securing another 4 touchdowns. Moreover, the tight end posted a 100-plus-yard game against Appalachian State while coming up just short of another against Campbell.
He led all Sun Belt tight ends in receiving yards. Additionally, Likely’s 20.7 yards per catch ranked third of all Sun Belt pass catchers.
Momentum is with the once unranked man from Massachusetts. Likely appears on multiple All-Star teams and watchlists ahead of the 2021 CFB season. He may not match the second-round selection of Jerome Simpson in 2008, but there’s a strong chance that the Coastal Carolina tight end hears his name called on Day 2 of the 2022 NFL Draft if he repeats his performances from last season.