2022 Rookie Review: Jelani Woods Shows Upside As Playmaking Weapon For Colts' Offense

Woods' size and athleticism showed up over the course of the 2022 third-round pick's rookie season. 

Jelani Woods

2022 Statistics

  • Games played: 15 (two starts)
  • Snaps played: 334 (32.7 percent)
  • Targets: 40
  • Receptions: 25
  • Yards: 312
  • Yards/reception: 12.5
  • Touchdowns: 3
  • Longest reception: 36 yards

The Big Picture

Few positions require more patience in the college-to-NFL transition than tight end. Of 54 tight ends selected in the first 100 picks of the last 10 NFL Drafts, just five had more than 500 yards as rookies; only six had 40 or more receptions; and seven had four or more touchdowns. The average rookie tight end – again, among those taken in the first 100 picks – has averaged these numbers over the last decade:

  • 37 targets
  • 22 receptions
  • 356 yards
  • 2 touchdowns

But those numbers in Year 2 jump to:

  • 51 targets
  • 34 receptions
  • 390 yards
  • 3 touchdowns

From 2011-2021, 21 second-year tight ends taken in the first 100 picks of an NFL Draft had over 500 yards; 24 had 40 or more receptions; and 21 had four or more touchdowns.

The point being: Woods' rookie season, statistically, was right in line with what his peers. But that's just the surface – diving deeper into Woods' rookie season, there was plenty by which to be encouraged from the No. 73 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

At 6-foot-7, 253 pounds, Woods looked smooth in how he moved before and after the catch. He showed particular effectiveness on crossing routes, where he could accelerate away from linebackers or safeties to create space and use his 6-foot-7 frame and 35-inch arms to snag contested catches. And he was able to get into those routes either as a "Y" (in-line) or "F" (move) tight end in the Colts' offense.

In Week 12 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Woods caught eight passes for 98 yards – becoming one of seven tight ends to have at least eight catches and 98 yards in a game this season.

"Jelani is a massive human being, and got a great attitude, a great heart," interim head coach Jeff Saturday said after that game. "The kid fights, and made play after play for us."

View some of the best photos of tight end Jelani Woods in his 2022 debut season with the Colts.

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