Jelani Woods put herself on the map at the Shrine Bowl

Of all the position groups in Las Vegas for this year’s Shrine Bowl, none have shined like the tight ends. The 2022 squad included a particularly diverse group of tight ends, including Ohio University’s Armani Rogers, a high school and college quarterback transitioning to the position hoping it will help him break through a path to the next level. Maryland’s Chigoziem Okonkwo also stood out, a true tight end who showed off his excellent passing skills with a big advantage for YAC. The one guy in this tight Vegas group who stood out the most — both in skill and physical stature — was Virginia graduate transfer Jelani Woods. From the standpoint of stature, no another tight end participating in this year’s Shrine Bowl came close to rivaling Jelani Woods. The tight end was a touch under 6-foot-7 and 259 pounds. In fact, only four players on either team’s roster were taller than the Virginia product, and all of them were offensive linemen. Even of those four taller offensive linemen, only two had longer arms and greater wingspan than Woods (with measurements over 34 and 82 inches, respectively). In virtually every caucuse he was a part of, the tight end dominated everyone.
If Woods’ size wasn’t enough to convince scouts of his NFL potential, the skill set he combines should do the trick. The Georgia native truly excelled as a blocker and receiver in his final year of eligibility, his freshman year in Virginia. After three years as a primary tackle at Oklahoma State, Jelani Woods has added a lot more receiving streak with the Hoos this season. His large frame and catching radius made him a mismatch nightmare for opposing defenses. While he doesn’t always create tons of separation with his run this season, he still felt like Woods was always open. He was so much bigger than anyone on top of him in the blanket. The tight end wasn’t exactly a great creator when running after the catch, but he showed potential to create bonus yardage when he dropped his shoulder on initial contact. Woods finished the 2021 season with 44 receptions for 598 yards and eight touchdowns — all career highs — while continuing to show his blocking skills in the running game. Everything Woods showcased during his time with Virginia was present during Shrine Week. He looked strong as a blocker with good footwork, physicality and competitiveness in the running game. As a wide receiver, Woods continued to demonstrate just how dominant he could be, with his huge body and wide catching radius – not to mention his big hands – often coming into play as a big mismatch in individual drills. and as a team. Not only did the Virginia product continue to show what we knew of him, but he also demonstrated big improvements in the passing game that only increased his draft stock. Chief among them was his itinerary. Woods wasn’t just relying on his size and contested catching ability all week. He showed some nice moves at the top of his routes – most often a good stutter step – and thus created separation, something that was not his forte in college. That extra separation was something he was able to create on the seam routes as well as in his outside routes and hollow in the middle one-on-one. As for team drills, Woods was doing more or less the same while constantly finding holes in zone coverage, so he was a wide open receiver on more than two occasions. With Woods’ improvements as a road runner combined with his stagger potential, the tight end was nearly impossible to cover in Shrine Bowl practices. When game day arrived last Thursday, he was rewarded for his ability to open up with an easy touchdown catch in the third quarter. Woods’ improvement in skill and physical stature was on full display and led to great results in Las Vegas. That puts him among the players demanding the most attention in the Shrine Bowl, and it bodes well for his potential to contribute as a versatile tight end at the next level.

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