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PRO 2023 Rookie Spotlight: Nathaniel “Tank” Dell, WR Houston

Rookie Spotlight: Nathaniel “Tank” Dell, Houston
Height: 5-10 (unofficial)
Weight: 165 (unofficial)
40 yard dash: 4.43 sec (projected)
2023 Age: 24
NFL Comparison: Calvin Austin III, Tutu Atwell
Breakout Age: 22 (junior)

Offensive Market Share Metrics (Final Season)

Receptions: 32%
Receiving Yards: 34%
Receiving TDs: 43%
Total Production Percentage: 36%

As a high school prospect: Class of 2018 2-star

Explosive playmaker
Soft hands
QB’s best friend, can catch whatever is thrown in his vicinity
Special teams asset
Turns upfield quickly after the catch
Slashing, twitchy runner
Good straight line speed
Doesn’t shy from contact

Ran a simple route tree
Didn’t face the press in college
Slight build

Scouting Notes:
Dell is an explosive bundle of nothing, and I mean that in the best way. A dynamic playmaker, who looks less than 165 lbs soaking wet, Dell is a surprise to behold on the field of play. He’s built so slightly, yet he runs like a player of significant heft, running violently and bullying would be tacklers. He’s like a little vicious chihuahua that doesn’t realize he’s dwarfed by a pitbull. Dell doesn’t always best his defender, but he generally breaks at least the first tackle when moving up field with the ball in his hands. He’s a QB’s best friend, in that he catches virtually everything that’s thrown in his area of the field – His QB rating when targeted in 2022 was an impressive 132.0. And equipped with solid straight line speed, Dell can break away from his defenders, though he doesn’t routinely create separation before the catch. He’s played in a wide open spread offense, so it’s difficult to say how he would perform against the press on a regular basis. What I really like about Dell is that he improved every year that he played, going from being a bit player at Alabama A&M in his freshman year to catching 102 balls for 1,355 yards and 15 TDs at Houston his senior year. He’s not afraid of anything, and Dell brings that mentality to the special teams game, using his quick twitch athleticism and willingness to run through tacklers to great effect. Dell is one of those players who excels in college but could shrink at the next level due to his lack of size.

Fantasy Outlook:
I like Dell’s aggressive nature, but he could be bound for an exclusive role as a kick returner in the pros. We have seen smaller players like Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle excel in the NFL, but those guys are unique athletic specimens who dominated at the highest level in the most esteemed football programs against fellow top-tier corners. I want to see him face consistent man coverage and press at the Senior Bowl before I designate him as a potential fantasy asset. If he can separate himself, literally, against those Senior Bowl corners, Dell may yet ascend the dynasty ranks.

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