2018 NFL Draft Prospect: Mike Gesicki

This year’s Fiesta Bowl sees Washington and Penn State facing off, and while many eyes will be on Penn State’s stud running back Saquon Barkley, make sure to spare a glance for the tight end. Mike Gesicki will be one of the Nittany Lions key receiving weapons when the teams clash on December 30th.

Gesicki will end his collegiate career as the school’s all-time leader in TE receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns. He has been recognized as one of the best players at his position this season and was one of the finalists for the John Mackey Award.1 After relatively quiet freshman and sophomore seasons, Gesicki caught 48 passes in 2016, finishing with 679 yards and five TDs at a not too shabby 14.1 yards per reception. His yards have fallen so far this season – he has just 501 at 9.8 YPR – but he has increased his TD numbers, with nine on the season heading into the Fiesta Bowl. Five of those have come in his last three games.


Gesicki has really only been productive for the last two seasons, and other 2018 TE prospects have stronger career numbers. He has also been slightly handicapped by the Penn State offense. The 34.8 passes attempted per game by the Nittany Lions is 39th in the country, while 25 teams managed more passing yards per game than the 285 they managed.

To get a fairer idea of Gesicki’s production this season, it’s necessary to put his numbers in context with those of similarly ranked prospects.

Mike GesickiPenn State6'625218.914.630.0
Dallas GoedertSouth Dakota State6'526027.430.220.0
Mark AndrewsOklahoma6'525020.018.918.2
Troy FumagalliWisconsin6'224814.821.219.0
Jaylen SamuelsNorth Carolina State5'1122823.316.825.0

As you can see, he was not as big a part of the offense as his contemporaries. But he did have a larger piece of his team’s TD pie, and a nose for the end zone can certainly help rookies when they enter the NFL. Just look at Hunter Henry in his first year in the league.


Mike Gesicki stands at 6-foot-6, the same as prominent NFL TEs Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Jason Witten, O.J. Howard and Kyle Rudolph. Only his former Penn State teammate Jesse James is taller among the main players in the NFL. Here is how he compares to these players. (Gesicki’s 40 yard dash time of 4.76 comes from the estimate of NFL Draft Scout.)

PlayerHtWt40 Yard TimeGamesReceptionsYardsTouchdowns
Rob Gronkowski6'62584.682275119716
Jimmy Graham6'62604.5313172135
Jason Witten6'62644.6536687977
O.J. Howard6'62514.514611417267
Kyle Rudolph6'62594.83299010328
Jesse James6'72614.833378100511
Mike Gesicki6'62524.7644123141915

Gesicki’s production is impressive, although most of the stars were ready to leave early and needed fewer games. He doubled up Howard’s TD production in a similar number of contests and almost matched Gronkowski, albeit in twice as many games. His receiving yards trail only Howard, while none of the players had as many receptions.

In his seminal article on the tight end drills that matter in the combine, Kevin Cole makes the 40-yard dash the key first obstacle for a prospect. As you can see below, Gesicki’s estimated time puts him right on the borderline.


Speed and age also factor into Phil Watkins’ TE prospect model, so a slow time would put a serious dent in his professional aspirations. A time over 4.7 is not a career killer, but the number of TEs who go on to be steady contributors at the NFL level is not a large one. Of his professional comps, Gesicki is on the light side, so he may need to work on his strength especially when you see that the second barrier is the bench press.


With so many players still yet to declare their intentions for the upcoming draft, Mike Gesicki is one of only four TEs ranked by CBS. NFL Draft Scout has a longer list of players, and Gesicki finds himself as their TE3. He is on the Senior Bowl watch list, but as of the time of writing had not accepted an invitation to the event. Gesicki may well choose to use the week in a similar way to Howard last year, who despite already being touted as a sure-fire first-round pick, turned heads of NFL scouting staffs. A strong showing could see him rise above the projected third-round landing spot.

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  1. Awarded to College football’s most outstanding TE, the 2017 award went to Mark Andrews.  (back)
By Neil Dutton | @ndutton13 | Archive

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