Colorado State University tight end Trey McBride recently announced that he’s the best collegiate tight end in the country. Of course, who can argue on merit? The winner of this year’s John Mackey Award possesses NFL-ready skills that could translate into fantasy-relevant production. Could McBride bring consistent value to dynasty fantasy football managers during his impending NFL career, and if so, how should managers assess him now that he’s landed with the Cardinals?
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Trey McBride’s dynasty fantasy profile
After a COVID-impeded junior season limited Colorado State to four games, McBride cut loose his senior year to stake his claim as a dominant TE. Which factors could impact his fantasy floor and ceiling in the NFL?
First, some perspective is in order. In four games last season, McBride racked up a 22-330-4 receiving line. So let’s not overstate his fourth-year leap in 2021, when he amassed a 90-1,121-1 line. Not that his most recent numbers aren’t wildly impressive (they certainly are). But on a statistical level, it marked a continuation of his abridged breakout in 2020.
On the field, McBride is fearless. In McBride’s NFL Draft scouting report, PFN colleague Oli Hodgkinson observed how often McBride initiates contact and relishes the blocking part of the game — possibly due to his earlier days as a defensive player and as a wrestler. He also “showcases active hands and feet” and poses after-the-catch difficulties for opponents trying to slow his bulldozing moves.
McBride stands tall at 6’4″, 245 pounds, yet was able to run a 4.61 adjusted 40-yard dash, good for an 85th-percentile speed score. He’s a quality athlete who looks as NFL-ready as a tight end can be.
All told, McBride appears ready to start Week 1 in the NFL. Against fifth-ranked Iowa this past season, he led the Rams in catches (6) and receiving yards (59). This is a guy who can serve as a go-to receiver while also doing the little things to protect his quarterback and free up teammates.
As with many college players, McBride still has plenty of room for improvement. For example, his route running is more rounded than crisp. Let’s face it: He’s been a matchup problem for defenses for years.
But at the NFL level, creating separation alone won’t be enough. Finding his spots and meeting the ball — the timing that separates good QB-receiver tandems and great ones — will be critical to his development as a next-level professional talent.
McBride’s lack of production prior to his senior season is at least worth noting. We don’t have as much clear data on how college production translates to NFL success for tight ends as other positions, but ideally, we’d prefer any prospect to be able to post a productive season before his senior year.
McBride’s injury history
There are no warning signs regarding McBride’s health heading into the NFL Draft. One potentially irrelevant side note, but worth mentioning: He played at Colorado State with his older brother, Toby, who was a defensive lineman. Toby had to have spinal surgery near the beginning of his collegiate career, and it took him almost two years to return to football shape.
While there’s no way to know if Trey is at a higher-than-normal risk for back/spinal injuries (there are genetic correlations), it’s important to highlight.
McBride’s dynasty value with the Cardinals
This is a great landing spot in terms of offense. The Cardinals are an explosive, pass-heavy offense. However, it’s not great in terms of opportunity. Zach Ertz signed a three-year extension with the Cardinals this offseason. He’s still just 31 years old.
While McBride may seem landlocked by Ertz, tight ends rarely matter as rookies anyway. It’s the most difficult position to learn in the NFL outside of quarterback. McBride can spend a year or two learning behind Ertz and eventually take over in 2023 or 2024. There is still a very high ceiling here.
With second-round draft capital, the Cardinals clearly pegged McBride as their tight end of the future. He’s highly unlikely to matter in redraft leagues, but as the first tight end off the board in the NFL Draft, his dynasty value remains very strong.
Consider McBride a top-12 tight end in dynasty right away. He’s young and will be catching passes from Kyler Murray for at least the first four years of his career.