Few top tight ends are deemed worthy of an early pick by scouts. Most teams tend to favor more value when it comes to the tight end position in the draft. That often means waiting until the middle rounds to select a player with good developmental potential. In the 2021 NFL Draft, Ole Miss tight end Kenny Yeboah projects well in that mold.
Kenny Yeboah NFL Draft Profile & Senior Bowl Measurements
- Position: Tight End
- School: Ole Miss
- Current Year: Redshirt Senior
- Height: 6’3 7/8″
- Weight: 247 pounds
- Wingspan: 80 3/4″
- Arm: 33 1/4″
- Hand: 9 3/8″
Many NFL Draft prospects have clear, attainable professional aspirations from the start. Kenny Yeboah, however, was different. It took a long time for Yeboah to get noticed, and when he did, he was a very different player.
Yeboah started out as a mere two-star recruit from Allentown, Pennsylvania. He played football at Parkland Senior High School. There, he was a 6-foot-4, 215-pound receiver.
Unranked in the class of 2016, most of Yeboah’s offers came from non-FBS schools. New Hampshire expressed interest in his skill set, as did Towson, Robert Morris, and Old Dominion. But Yeboah managed to get one offer from a Division 1-A school. The Temple Owls, an in-state candidate, gave him an offer after watching him at one of their camps. Yeboah accepted and took off to Philadelphia for his college football career.
Kenny Yeboah’s journey to becoming an Ole Miss tight end
The early years of Yeboah’s Temple career weren’t very eventful. He redshirted his first season after only playing in one game, then caught just 27 passes for 290 yards and a score over the next two seasons. Nevertheless, his first three years did carry weight in a way. It was in 2016 that Temple’s head coach at the time, Matt Rhule, expressed confidence in Yeboah’s potential as a tight end.
From that moment onward, Yeboah started to build his frame and began developing his blocking skills. In 2019, his hard work yielded results. Yeboah became a solid red zone weapon for the Owls, earning 233 yards and five touchdowns on 19 catches. It wasn’t much in a vacuum. But it was enough to get Yeboah noticed. That was all he needed.
Yeboah’s chance at football’s highest stage
After his redshirt junior season, Yeboah decided that transferring from Temple would be his best option. As a grad transfer, his talent was heavily coveted, but he quickly made the decision to join the Baylor Bears, where his beloved former coach now took up occupancy. However, not long after Yeboah committed to Baylor, Rhule was hired by the Carolina Panthers to be their head coach. Yeboah re-opened his recruitment and diverted course to the SEC to team up with Lane Kiffin and the Ole Miss Rebels.
Yeboah thrived in Kiffin’s offense. In just one season, the 22-year-old Ole Miss tight end adequately displayed his upside. Yeboah had a career season, amassing 27 catches, 524 yards, and six touchdowns in just seven games. He averaged over 70 yards per game and also averaged almost 20 yards per catch. Yeboah’s production earned him an invitation to the Senior Bowl in mid-November. Just a little over a month later, Yeboah declared for the 2021 NFL Draft, along with Ole Miss wideout Elijah Moore.
Analyzing Kenny Yeboah’s 2021 NFL Draft profile
There are a couple of traits that make Kenny Yeboah a very enticing option in the late-Day 2, early-Day 3 range. Nothing serves this purpose more than his utility as both a pass catcher and a blocker. He has a lot of experience as a blocker under his belt. Yeboah missed a few blocks here and there. However, he has enough short-area burst, length, and serviceable play strength to help clear lanes.
Of course, where Yeboah is going to make his money is in the passing game. The Ole Miss tight end took a big leap in Lane Kiffin’s offense, and it was visible not just on the stat sheet but also on the field. He’s still fairly raw when it comes to route running. However, Yeboah is clearly a smooth athlete who will bring solid contested-catch skills and good run-after-catch ability. He’s not going to make many players miss, but he has decent lateral agility on individual cuts. Yeboah is also physical after the catch, and as long as he retains his balance, he’ll fight for extra yards.
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Taking a closer look at Yeboah’s contested catch-ability, the Ole Miss tight end wins with body control, above all other traits. He’s not a burner, so he’s not going to get much separation. Thus, he needs to be able to use his length and contortion ability to his advantage. Luckily for Yeboah, it appears that he’s already well on his way in that department.
What are the concerns with Kenny Yeboah?
Yeboah is a good athlete when it pertains to fluidity and burst. However, he’s not overly fast or sudden. He shows some flashes of modest suddenness, but he doesn’t have the twitch that other tight ends have. His long speed also disappoints. Yeboah has the initial burst and catching ability to get into open space, but he’s not going to win a lot of footraces over long distances.
Yeboah’s speed also hurts him as a check-down option. As a long-strider, Yeboah needs a decent amount of space to accelerate. He doesn’t have the space to accelerate, and he doesn’t separate well from looming linebackers or defensive backs. On top of his speed deficiency, he can also fall victim to easy drops. While not prevalent, he’ll need to cut those drops out of his game if he wants to retain a regular role in the NFL.
Kenny Yeboah’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
Yeboah certainly helps fill out the depth of the tight end class, but in an NFL where mismatches are becoming more important at the tight end position, there are some mitigating factors regarding his stock. Yeboah’s long speed isn’t far above average. His explosiveness is good-not-great, as is his agility. He has a long frame, but he’s only an above-average athlete beyond that. Because of this, he may need to refine his route running and expand on his flashes of lateral quickness at the next level.
Framing it optimistically, however, Yeboah is a decent blocker and a good receiving threat, with some prevailing upside if he can develop. He clearly had a penchant for big plays in his final year, and he also has the size and length to be a dangerous red zone threat. In the middle rounds, he’s a solid investment, especially for teams that can scheme their tight ends into space.
Which teams mesh best with Yeboah’s skill set?
Teams that profile well for Yeboah in the 2021 NFL Draft include the Los Angeles Rams, Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Chargers, Cincinnati Bengals, Carolina Panthers, and Pittsburgh Steelers. However, he should draw interest from other teams that seek good value deals at the tight end position. As a late-Round 3, early-Day 3 pick, Yeboah is a solid investment, with reasonable upside for that range.
It will depend on how the rest of the board falls regarding tight ends, but Yeboah may get selected earlier than expected. However, if players like Pat Freiermuth, Brevin Jordan, and Hunter Long fall a bit, Yeboah might slip into the Day 3 mix. Whatever the case, Yeboah has a very intriguing toolset at his disposal, and he successfully made the leap to the SEC in his final season. He has enough talent to produce, and with more refinement of his tools, he could become a formidable, versatile threat.