Jelani Woods, Virginia TE | NFL Draft Scouting Report

Following a standout season for Virginia, TE Jelani Woods is an ascending 2022 NFL Draft prospect with an exciting scouting report.

Jelani Woods is a rapidly ascending tight end prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft. After his transfer to the Cavaliers resulted in a statistically successful redshirt-senior season, the Virginia TE has aced the draft process. An impressive performance at the East-West Shrine Bowl was followed by a standout showcase at the NFL Combine. As he ascends, we dive into Woods’ scouting report to see what the NFL future holds for the Virginia TE.

Jelani Woods NFL Draft Profile

  • Position: Tight End
  • School: Virginia
  • Current Year: Redshirt Senior
  • Height: 6’7 1/8″
  • Weight: 269 pounds
  • Wingspan: 82″
  • Arm: 34 1/8″
  • Hand: 9 1/4″

Jelani Woods Scouting Report

We’ve known for some time that the 2022 NFL Draft possesses a deeply talented tight end group. The group is tightly packed at the top, with a pick-your-poison approach to separating some of the best at the position. The expectation might have been that someone would separate themselves during the pre-draft process. Instead, more prospects are emerging to compact the group.

One of those is Virginia TE Woods. Following his usage primarily as a blocking tight end for Oklahoma State, his transfer to the Cavaliers has opened up his skill set as a pass-catching option for an offense. As he aces the process with incredible all-star and testing performances, NFL teams are going back to his tape to diagnose what his potential could be.

There’s a natural and logical place to begin Woods’ NFL Draft scouting report. Size may not be everything, but the Virginia TE is an incredible specimen in this regard. Standing at over 6’7″, he’s distinctive when you turn on the tape. Furthermore, it doesn’t take long for his 34 1/8″ arms — and their legitimate weaponization — to become apparent.

Naturally, Woods’ size and length make him an obvious red-zone target. The Virginia TE plays exceptionally well above the rim. With a strong, physical upper body, he’s able to box out even the most combative defensive backs. In addition to his natural height advantage in these situations, Woods’ length makes him an almost unfair pass catcher to guard. He has an excellent catch radius that he routinely puts to good use.

Speed, strength, and run-blocking skills

While he’s an obvious red-zone target, Woods puts these advantages to use elsewhere. He’s particularly adept at plucking the ball out of the air and securing it in traffic across the middle of the field. Trying to force an incompletion by simply hitting him hard is pointless. You’re more likely to bounce off his 269-pound frame than see the ball bounce to the turf. This physicality is also the main component of any after-the-catch threat.

While his size limits his ability to be a twitchy athlete, there’s some exciting athletic potential here. As demonstrated at the NFL Combine, he’s a speed freak for his size. That should ensure he’s considered a seam threat at the NFL level. Indeed, Woods showcases some ability to create a little separation with setup and quick breaks as a route runner.

With three years of predominant run-blocking usage at Oklahoma State, Woods offers excellent value here. He can use his impressive length to lock out and manipulate his opponent in the ground game. He keeps his feet moving to help prise open running lanes. Although his hand positioning and timing are a work in progress, there are some good examples of Woods using fast and independent hands.

While Virginia played mostly inline, Woods has seen exposure in the slot. His athletic profile would suggest he could play from both alignments in the NFL. With the skill set showcased in his scouting report, combined with the fiery mentality with which he plays the game, a team is likely going to get a future starting tight end for great value in the early part of Day 3 in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Areas for improvement

While Woods’ scouting report reveals starting-potential NFL talent, there is still some development to do. The Virginia TE has room for improvement. Some limiting factors could halt his ascension.

Although Woods has a physically impressive frame, there are some concerns here. The Virginia TE has a slender lower body. That alone doesn’t necessarily merit concern. Yet, there are instances on tape where that presents as lacking lower body strength. Additionally, as he’s tasked with pass protecting more in the NFL, that could become a bigger issue.

This leads to another issue in his scouting report. While excelling as a run blocker, Woods has seen little exposure in pass protection. To maximize his time on the field, he’ll likely need to develop in this regard. His size, length, and upper body strength should give him an advantage. However, at present, his ability here is unknown.

Having just one season of extended pass-catching experience, Woods has some room for development here. There were some bobbled catches on tape, requiring some consistency in his hands. While his physicality helps him add some extra yardage, he doesn’t routinely add after-the-catch value. Although fast in a straight line, he isn’t the most agile of lateral athletes. That said, he showcased fluidity of movement in both the Shrine Bowl and on-field drills at the NFL Combine.

Woods’ Player Profile

Woods is no stranger to late-in-the-process ascension. His high school career for Cedar Grove High School gathered pace and success as it progressed. While throwing for 1,489 yards and 16 touchdowns as a sophomore, he helped Cedar Grove to the second round of the playoffs. The following year, with 1,992 passing yards and 20 touchdowns, they made it to the state semifinals. Yes, you read that correctly — passing yards.

While Woods heads to the 2022 NFL Draft as a promising tight end prospect out of Virginia, he began his career as a quarterback. He was a three-star prospect in the 2017 recruiting class and the 31st pro-style QB in the nation. Additionally, he was a top-100 prospect in his home state of Georgia.

Woods was heavily recruited as a quarterback prospect. He held double-digit college offers, including Michigan, Louisville, and South Carolina. While he never received an offer, there was also interest from the Alabama Crimson Tide. However, in the spring before his senior season, he committed to play quarterback at Oklahoma State.

Meanwhile, his high school ascension reached its peak as a senior in 2016. Throwing for 2,316 yards and 26 touchdowns, Woods led Cedar Grove to a 13-2 record and a state championship. For his role in the success, he was named the Montlick & Associates Region 5 Athlete of the Year while also earning first-team All-Region 5 3A honors.

Woods’ college career begins at Oklahoma State

Entering a QB room led by Mason Rudolph, Woods redshirted his freshman campaign in 2017. However, rather than assume the reins under center for the 2018 season, he transitioned to play tight end for the Cowboys, making his starting debut as a redshirt freshman.

While he was used sparingly in the Cowboys’ passing offense, Woods secured his first catch as a college TE against South Alabama. Later in the season, he snagged his first touchdown against Iowa State, adding a second against Texas. While only securing 7 receptions, 5 of those went for first downs. Meanwhile, Woods ended the 2018 campaign with 120 receiving yards at 17.1 yards per catch.

As Chuba Hubbard rose to national prominence in 2019, Woods helped pave the way for the Oklahoma State rushing attack. However, there were pass-catching highlights. The giant tight end secured a career-high 5 receptions against Baylor. He also added another touchdown to his résumé against West Virginia. Although he earned an honorable All-Big 12 mention, Woods ended his redshirt-sophomore season with just 112 yards.

A similar theme emerged in 2020. While appearing in 10 games, Woods had just 8 receptions for 129 yards and a touchdown on the year. Against Iowa State, he averaged 18.0 yards per catch for 54 yards, accounting for almost half his 2020 season production.

Woods’ NFL Draft ascension at Virginia

With a lack of receiving production at Oklahoma State, Woods was far from the NFL Draft radar at the end of the 2020 season. Having graduated, he opted to enter the transfer portal. Virginia reached out immediately. And having seen the receiving success that Tony Poljan had enjoyed and getting a good feeling from the coaching staff, the Oklahoma State tight end became a Virginia Cavalier.

The success came almost immediately for Woods as a Virginia TE. In the second game of the season against Illinois, he tallied 122 yards and a touchdown from just 5 receptions. It was by far the most successful single game of his career. Bolstered by the performance, Woods registered a receiving touchdown in five consecutive games. He ended the year with consecutive touchdowns against Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech, snagging a career-high 7 receptions against the Hokies.

With 598 receiving yards, he led all ACC tight ends in yardage, setting the third-highest mark in program history. Additionally, Woods’ 8 touchdowns were the most by a tight end in the conference and the second-most in program history. As a result of his success, the Virginia TE earned first-team All-ACC honors while being selected to the East-West Shrine Bowl.

The pre-draft process has seen Woods ascend his stock even further. Continually impressing during Shrine Bowl practice, he snagged a touchdown in the game itself. At the NFL Combine, he set the second-fastest time amongst tight ends in the 40-yard dash (4.61 seconds) while showcasing upper body strength with a position-leading 24 bench press reps. With the Virginia Pro Day to come on March 23, Woods continues to ascend from an unknown to one of the most talked-about tight ends in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Tony Pauline’s Scouting Report for Jelani Woods

Positives: Imposing tight end who excels as a blocker and holds his own catching the ball. Competes to come away with the difficult catch, uses his hands to separate from opponents, and snatches the ball from the air. Nicely settles into the open spot of the defense to make himself an available target. Explosive blocker who stays square, gets his hands up, and fights hard throughout the action. Strong and turns defenders from plays. Possesses a large frame with growth potential.

Negatives: Doesn’t play to his 40 time and lacks any sort of burst in his game. Poor route runner.

Analysis: Woods is a terrific blocking tight end who displayed a lot of pass-catching skill during three days of Shrine Bowl practices. He lacks great upside but has enough ability to make a roster as a third tight end.

Oliver Hodgkinson is an NFL Draft and College Football Analyst for Pro Football Network. Check out the rest of his work here, and you can find him on Twitter: @ojhodgkinson.

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