Once an unranked and under-recruited wide receiver, Isaiah Likely has emerged as one of the top tight end prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft. While the Coastal Carolina tight end came into the season as a highly touted prospect, his ascent to the top of the class is as unlikely as his college football journey. Likely’s scouting report showcases why he’s been able to assert himself as one of the best TEs in this class.
Isaiah Likely NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Tight End
- School: Coastal Carolina
- Current Year: Senior
- Height: 6’4″
- Weight: 241 pounds
- Wingspan: 78″
- Arm: 32 1/4″
- Hand: 10″
Isaiah Likely Scouting Report
The 2022 NFL Draft tight end class is an incredibly talented and competitive group. After his impressive performance over the past two years, Likely has been able to elevate himself in this class. He’s shown significant development in some areas of his summer scouting report. As a result, the Coastal Carolina tight end is the 60th overall prospect and TE2 on the most recent Pro Football Network Top 300 Big Board.
The Coastal Carolina TE 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, there are some explosive elements to his athletic profile.
Likely shows quick feet and a change-of-direction ability that he uses to make guys miss in the open field. As a result, he has been able to consistently 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 outmuscles his man to come down with the ball.
An outstanding pass catcher who improved as a blocker this season
Another element of Likely’s 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 TE is coming down with it. He routinely showcases the ability to extend and pluck the ball out of the sky.
Likely is also able to secure the ball into his body when targeted over the middle of the field. Likely’s pass-catching ability has been evident throughout his career. However, that element alone won’t cut the mustard in the NFL.
Thankfully for the Coastal Carolina TE, he showed development as a blocker this past season. The Chanticleers used him as a lead blocker when in motion, and he’s shown the ability to block in space as a receiver. He’s also shown improvement in pass protection, although he’s more willing than technically astute in this regard.
Versatility is an NFL buzzword, and Coastal’s offensive system ensures that Likely is as versatile as they come. Think of a conceivable alignment for the position, and the Coastal Carolina tight end has been used there. He can play out of the slot or line up outside of the numbers as a pure receiver. Likely’s also been used in motion from the H-back position.
Areas for improvement
While Likely’s scouting report reveals excellent potential in the 2022 NFL Draft class, the Coastal Carolina TE does still have some areas for improvement. That said, he’s made strides against the negative areas of his summer scouting report. There’s every reason to believe that he can continue that development.
Despite improvements as a blocker, this is an area that requires some attention. As a pass protector, Likely doesn’t possess the strength to regularly win against more powerful defensive ends and linebackers. He’s comfortable in dealing with smaller defenders, however. The Coastal Carolina tight end is willing, but he takes a hit-and-hope approach rather than a technical one in protection.
While the Coastal Carolina TE poses a threat up the seam and has showcased decent route-running ability, there is some development potential here. Likely has showcased a twitchy athletic ability to his game but needs to ensure he consistently applies this to his route running. He can be prone to round off his routes.
With some route-running improvements to be made and the concern about how his strength will hold up as a blocker at the NFL level, Likely doesn’t possess the position versatility of some NFL Draft prospects. The pass-catching upside is enough to see him earn mid-to-late Day 2 attention, but will probably see other TEs taken ahead of him.
Likely’s Player Profile
Likely’s rise to being one of the top tight end prospects 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 was 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, Likely’s offers were predominantly from smaller local schools like Sacred Heart, Rhode Island, and UMass. While those programs recruited Likely as a wide receiver, then-Coastal offensive coordinator Jamey Chadwell envisioned him playing tight end for the Chanticleers. They offered him a scholarship 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 campaign. He saw his first touchdown reception 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 in his final three games of the year. The Coastal Carolina 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 Watch List while he landed on the All-Sun Belt third-team. As he had as a freshman, the Coastal TE finished the season in style, registering a then-career-high 107 receiving yards and a touchdown against Troy.
Despite playing through injury in 2020, Likely’s profile skyrocketed 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+ yard game against Appalachian State while coming up just short of another against Campbell.
Likely’s NFL Draft ascension
Likely led all Sun Belt tight ends in receiving yards. Additionally, his 20.7 yards per catch ranked third among all Sun Belt pass catchers. Momentum was with the once unranked man from Massachusetts. As a result, Likely appeared on multiple all-star teams and watch lists ahead of the 2021 college football season.
Although the Chanticleers’ season didn’t match their accomplishments of 2020, Likely’s star continued to ascend during his senior season. His production matched the upward trajectory of his draft stock. In a standout game against Arkansas State, the Coastal Carolina TE was unstoppable, snagging 232 yards and 4 touchdowns.
After securing 101 yards against Georgia State, Likely registered multiple 100+ yard games for the first time in his career. He finished the season with a career-high 912 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. The Coastal Carolina TE earned second-team All-American and first-team All-Sun Belt honors from Pro Football Network. Additionally, he was a semifinalist for the John Mackey Award and received a Senior Bowl invite.
In Mobile, Likely impressed the PFN team on the ground as he “created separation and came down with nearly every pass” and “effort in 1-on-1 pass-blocking drills.” However, some disappointing testing numbers — particularly in agility drills and the bench press — may have halted his ascension to the top of the 2022 NFL Draft. Nonetheless, an NFL team is going to snag an impressive pass catcher who can make plays at the next level.
Tony Pauline’s scouting report on Isaiah Likely
Positives: Tall, athletic, playmaking tight end who plays the position like a receiver. Runs good routes for a bigger TE, separates from defenders, and has a long reach that he uses to snatch the ball away from his frame. Contorts to catch errant throws, looks passes into his hands, and keeps plays in bounds after the catch. Quick, agile, and plays to his 40 time.
Displays himself as a legitimate deep threat, tracks the pass in the air, and makes the over-the-shoulder reception at full speed. Quickly releases off the snap, immediately gets to top speed, and easily makes the reception in stride. Effectively uses the sidelines, uses his frame to shield away defenders, protects the pass, and possesses a lot of natural pass-catching skill. Somewhat effective blocking on the second level.
Negatives: Lacks strength as an in-line blocker. Must polish his blocking techniques.
Analysis: Likely is a TE prospect I’ve been touting the past two years, and he’s an athletic player with a huge upside. More of a move tight end, he will only get better as he physically matures and adds strength to his frame.