SDSU's Tucker Kraft to declare for NFL Draft

(Dave Eggen/Inertia) South Dakota State tight end Tucker Kraft catches a pass against Indiana State at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium in Brookings on Oct. 29. Kraft announced on Monday morning that he will declare for the NFL Draft at the end of the 2022 season.

The standout tight end will play for the top-seeded Jackrabbits in the FCS playoffs.

Tucker Kraft is declaring for the NFL Draft after the South Dakota State tight end made an announcement on social media Monday morning.

In a post on his Twitter account, Kraft thanked his coaches and fans for their support while also making it clear he will continue playing for the top-seeded Jackrabbits in the FCS playoffs.

“We have a lot of football left and so much to prove,” Kraft said in his announcement. “Hope to see you, Jackrabbit Nation, at all remaining home games to cheer on the boys. With that being said, this year will be my last in the Jackrabbit yellow and blue. I am hereby declaring for the 2023 NFL Draft following the final game of our season.”

Kraft was a standout at Timber Lake High School, where he played as a running back, middle linebacker and punter. He redshirted upon his arrival in 2019 and played in seven games with three starts in 2020 before his breakout season in 2021, where he caught 65 passes for 780 receiving yards and six touchdowns.

This season has been a test in adversity for Kraft, who suffered an ankle injury during the loss to Iowa on Sept. 3. Kraft returned to the field in an Oct. 22 win over North Dakota and has caught 19 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns on the year.

Despite the injury, Kraft remains one of the top tight end prospects heading into this year’s draft. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler has him listed 33rd overall on his top 50 board and called him one of the best offensive prospects in this year’s class.

"Sidelined by an ankle injury on the season’s opening drive, Tucker Kraft is back in action and has a touchdown catch in each of the last two games," Brugler wrote on Nov. 2. "An intriguing combination of athleticism, size and strength, he might reside at a “small school,” but Kraft plays big. He has the receiving talent to be drafted higher than Dallas Goedert, another South Dakota State alum, who was a top-50 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft."

Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline also is a fan of Kraft’s potential, listing him as the highest non-FBS player on his big board.

“[Kraft] is big, athletic and fast,” Pauline said. “He’s a stout pass-catching tight end that adjusts to the errant throw, snatches the ball out of the air with his hands and takes a pounding, yet holds onto the reception. Consistent and reliable, Kraft shows route discipline, and terrific eye/hand coordination and comes away with the difficult catch battling opponents. He also possesses the ability to get downfield and make big plays.”

Pauline also projected Kraft as a third-round prospect in this year’s draft but he could go higher if he continues to produce on the field.

SDSU earned a bye in the first round of the FCS playoffs and will face the winner of Saturday’s game between St. Francis (Pa.) and Delaware on Dec. 3 in Brookings.


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