Why the Slide?: Tucker Kraft, TE, South Dakota State

Our “Why the Slide” series parallels and grew out our “Why Undrafted” series. The latter was created a number of years ago in response to your questions about why certain well-known prospects went unselected in NFL drafts. For both series, I reach out to sources with NFL teams to find out why their organizations passed on drafting a given player, and/or, what were the reasons for other teams to pass on that prospect. The positive response to “Why Undrafted” and questions from readers about why prospects were drafted lower than the media expectations led us to create the parallel series “Why the Slide?”

Both series are back this year. Feel free to email me requests for Why the Slide? and Why Undrafted? at [email protected]. I can’t promise to get to all of them, but I will do my best and definitely will respond to the email.

The 2023 NFL Draft was known to be a very strong year for tight end talent, and one prospect who was seen as a nice second-day value was Tucker Kraft. Over the past two seasons, he flashed some receiving ability for South Dakota State, and he generated some media buzz stemming from his good skill set. Entering the 2023 NFL Draft, many expected Kraft to go in the second round, but he ended up sliding to the third frame.

Team sources saw Kraft as a bit of a love/hate prospect. However, even the sources who think Kraft will be a good player felt he was very raw and in need of development. Kraft came from nine-man high school football and then played at a small-school level in college, so it was not a surprise to anyone that Kraft would need more developmental time than other prospects.

The Green Bay Packers ended Kraft’s slide in the third round, and that was a mixed landing spot. On the negative side, the Packers drafted a tight end a round earlier in Oregon State’s Luke Musgrave, who will be the favorite to be the three-down starter. Kraft also will have to beat out other veterans like Josiah Deguara for playing time. On the plus side, the Packers need young receiving weapons to emerge for Jordan Love, so Kraft should get some opportunities to show that he can be a contributor. Kraft will need to work hard to expedite his developmental process and show he can be a long-term part of Green Bay’s rebuild.

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