Isaiah Likely - TE - Coastal Carolina
Welcome to the rookie profile for Isaiah Likely. Likely’s draft stock has been all over the place this offseason. He projects as maybe one of the best pure receiving tight ends in this draft but notably struggles in other areas that a tight end needs to be adept at such as blocking. But is Likely’s receiving ability enough for teams to look past his inability as a blocker in a new age of football where tight ends are often featured as legitimate receiving weapons in an offense?
Height: 6′ 4″
Weight: 240 lbs
40-yard dash: DNP
3-cone drill: DNP
20-yard shuttle: 4.57s
Vertical Jump: 36″
Broad Jump: DNP
Bench Press: DNP
Isaiah Likely was a little known recruit, committing to Coastal Carolina as a 2-star athlete. Despite being under the radar, Likely played tight end for Coastal Carolina and continuously improved every year. He started his freshman year with a modest 100 yards but 5 touchdowns on his 12 receptions. He immediately stepped into an increased role as a top option in the Chanticleers’ offense as a Sophomore with over 425 receiving yards and another 5 touchdowns. In 2020, Likely’s junior year, the college football nation saw Coastal Carolina light the national stage on fire as Grayson McCall, Jaivon Heiligh, and Isaiah Likely led the Chanticleers to an 11-1 season. That season, Likely went for over 600 yards and was awarded first-team All-Sun Belt and second-team All-American (per PFF) honors.
Likely’s final season, his true senior season in 2021, was another successful one for the Chanticleers’ team. The team finished 11-2, with Likely second on the team in receiving yards with 912 and 12 touchdowns. He was once again awarded first-team All-Sun Belt honors. Likely only participated in a limited fashion at the Combine during this offseason, deciding to hold off on the rest of his workouts until his pro-day. Combined, he had some mixed results across both his pro-day and combine. He ran a 4.83 at his Pro Day which was not a great result and translates to an 87.1 Speed Score (18th percentile). Now that 4.83 doesn’t quite line up with what is seen on tape as he had plenty of explosive plays down the field. But the rest of his testing translated to a 124.5 Burst Score (85th percentile) and an 11.96 Agility Score (12th percentile).
Isaiah Likely showed the ability to line up all over the field, whether that was as a traditional in-line tight end, in the slot, or even out wide. When lining as an in-line tight end, he has a very quick release and gets into his route efficiently. As a route runner, he is solid when compared to other tight ends. He has smooth breaks and a nice start/stop ability but has some room to become more technically sound. Finally, he has sure hands with an ability to make impressive catches through contact, one-handers on the sideline, or simply showing body control to adjust to a pass thrown outside of his frame.
Likely is considered a “tweener” at the tight end position. He’s a bit too slight of frame to be considered a true tight end, but also too big to be considered a legitimate wide receiver. And his tape shows that same identity struggle. For a tight end, his blocking is a legitimate issue. In pass protection, he consistently gets blown by. As a run blocker, he is a bit better but still very inconsistent as he can get up in front of his assignment but then struggles to keep them in front of him. But if he were considered a wide receiver, he would be very adequate as a run blocker or a lead blocker for his teammates. Again, he’s a solid route runner for a tight end, but a very poor route runner if he were considered more of a wide receiver. He’s obviously considered a receiving threat as evidenced by his utilization at Coastal Carolina, but he will need to improve as a blocker and put on some weight without losing his burst.
Pre Draft Analysis
Expected Draft Capital- Round 6
NFL teams generally shy away from taking the “tweener” type players. He would have to live as a pure receiving threat for his NFL team, again, unless he puts on more weight to build on his smaller frame and to develop more into a tight end that can play full time and not just situationally. The New York Giants are in desperate need of a receiving tight end after the departure of Evan Engram. He could play in tandem with the more traditional tight end in Kyle Rudolph. The other New York team, the Jets, are also a team that has been looking for a legitimate weapon at the tight end position without much success recently.
Post Draft Analysis
Baltimore Ravens- Round 4, Pick 34
The Baltimore Ravens had a very solid tight end room with Nick Boyle as their primary blocking tight end and obviously Mark Andrews as a key receiving threat in the offense. So it is a bit bizarre that the Ravens drafted not only Isaiah Likely, but also Charlie Kolar in the fourth round. Overall, the team doesn’t have a lot of holes except for wide receivers, so maybe these are just luxury depth picks. But Isaiah Likely profiles as a tweener between wide receiver and tight end in his skillset, so maybe Baltimore plans to use him as more of a receiving weapon than a true tight end. If Likely cuts weight and spends a lot of time developing as a route runner, it seems plausible he can develop into a big slot-type receiver. But it also is reaching for an explanation for this pick as Baltimore could have just selected a wide receiver instead.
Likely is an interesting fantasy option at the tight end position as he is mainly a receiving threat. But Baltimore is just not a great landing spot as he is squarely behind Andrews and has competition with Kolar and Boyle to even get on the field. It’s hard to envision a clear path to get on the field to become fantasy relevant any time soon. Additionally, he isn’t a prospect that demands coaches to pay attention to or for fantasy managers to stash for the next few years waiting for him to get a chance. In dynasty, he should go undrafted unless it’s a really deep league with tight end bonuses. In redraft, he should also go undrafted barring injuries to the tight end room this preseason.
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Image Credit: Matt Pendleton – USA TODAY Sports