2018 Rookie Profile: Mike Gesicki, TE Penn State

Michael Zingone

The 2017 tight end class provided some of the best, most athletic prospects we’ve seen in the past decade. Yet, for all the great rookies that came last year, Mike Gesicki would have been the most athletic of them all. It’s no secret at this point that Gesicki is a freakish athlete (and quite honestly, so are the entire Penn State team). His combine numbers were other-worldly. We’ll delve into that and more here in this rookie profile.


The tight end position is generally a difficult one to look at college production for. Many tight ends, even ones who excel at the next level, are often underutilized in their college schemes. Coming into a full-time receiving role in his junior season in 2016, Gesicki check’s the boxes for at least baseline level production for a good prospect at the tight end position in college.

screen shot 2018 04 08 at 16.30.46

Statistics from sports-reference.com.

Gesicki’s production has to be reflected upon with the understanding that he played on a team with the unanimous RB1 and nearly consensus best player in the entire 2018 NFL draft, Saquon Barkley. The offense he played in was funneling opportunity and targets to the running back position more than almost any other offense in the country.

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While his yards and yards per catch decreased in 2017, it’s great to see the uptick in overall receptions and touchdowns. One reason for the lower yards is because of his red zone usage in 2017. When watching the tape, I saw a multitude of plays where Gesicki was the focus of the offense within five yards. Many of these plays were shovel passes that weren’t set up particularly well, but the point remains that even with Barkley in the backfield, his team wanted the ball in his hands.


Gesicki has a lot of strengths to his game. It’s easy to see why dynasty owners and NFL scouts are excited for his to play at the next level. Here are two games from this past 2017 season against Nebraska and Michigan, respectively, that really highlight Gesicki’s game well.

Mike Gesicki is a playmaker. He has solid hands, especially in plays where he takes a big hit after making the play. He excels when using his athleticism to beat linebackers in the middle of the field, but he can also make a big play down the field when called upon.

One thing that stood out when watching his Penn State film is that he almost never lined up on the line of scrimmage to start a play. Almost always in the backfield, Gesicki was primarily a route runner for the Nittany Lions, and that’s where his game excels. As a blocker, he leaves a lot to be desired. Ironically, even at 6-6 and nearly 250 pounds, he blocks like a running back, frequently going low instead of using his enormous frame.

For fantasy purposes, Gesicki’s tape is very exciting. He is a natural route runner with strong hands and certainly has the athleticism to be a dominant tight end in the NFL. One has to wonder how good his release off the line of scrimmage if asked to play in that role, but he’ll be tough to stop once he gets down the field for a pass.


I’ve been talking a lot about Gesicki’s athleticism throughout this piece, so why is that? Well, when you perform as a 97th-percentile SPARQ athlete at the NFL combine, the temptation is just too much to project that athleticism to the next level.

Here are his measurables via Mock Draftable.

For reference, last year’s supremely talented tight end class had Evan Engram (87th percentile SPARQ), David Njoku (81st) and OJ Howard (87th), who all seem underwhelming when compared athletically to Gesicki.

There isn’t much more than needs to be said. Gesicki’s numbers speak for themselves, and you can see it translate on the field at Penn State. While I didn’t noticeably see an other-worldly athlete on tape, there are certainly points where because of his size and speed, he’s able to win catches many other tight ends wouldn’t be able to reel in. He’ll be fun to watch on Sundays.

Dynasty Value

In DLF’s February Rookie ADP, the first rookie mocks of the year, Gesicki was firmly the third tight end taken off the board behind Mark Andrews and Dallas Goedert. Before knowing any of this athletic measurables, dynasty owners saw him as a late third-round rookie pick.

Flash forward to April rookie mock drafts, and Gesicki is firmly entrenched within the top three tight ends and going second among them in current mocks, only behind Goedert. It’s easy to understand why. His upside is clear after showing everyone what he can do at the NFL combine.

Now a late second-round pick in rookie drafts, Gesicki offers similar athletic upside but at a significantly less price than the aforementioned top three rookies from last year’s tight end class. If he manages to sneak into the first or early second round of the NFL draft, I expect his dynasty value to vault up to the early-mid second round of rookie drafts.


Mike Gesicki is an upside play at a position that’s easily replaceable after the elite talent. It’s easy to see what the combination of athletic talent and opportunity can do to skyrocket a tight end’s dynasty value (i.e. Evan Engram). While measurables like Gesicki’s are almost a requirement to solidify yourself as a top five dynasty tight end, they’re absolutely not the only thing that matters.

Gesicki’s tape shows a lot of raw potential, but he’ll need to improve his overall game and potentially adjust to playing on instead of behind the line of scrimmage every play. His ceiling could absolutely be the next Jimmy Graham or Evan Engram, two of the elite tight ends in today’s game. It’s natural to think about upside when it comes to Gesicki, but don’t forget that he could just as easily become Jordan Cameron or Rob Housler .

There’s absolutely a lot of risk baked into Gesicki’s profile, and dynasty owners right now seem to be accounting for it. I expect a fairly steep learning curve for him as he adjusts to the NFL game. For owners that are in need of a tight end, he’s one of the best plays in this year’s draft at a reasonable price. Should he hold his late-second valuation throughout the summer, he’s a good bet to be one of the best value picks this year.


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