Houston Cougars wide receiver Nathaniel “Tank” Dell has taken a twisting and turning path to the 2023 NFL Draft both on and off the field. The electric pass catcher is among the smallest big-play options available, a factor making his draft stock and landing spot tough to pin down.
In 2018, Dell attended Alabama A&M after a three-star prep rating coming out of the state of Florida. He redshirted after four games (12-364-3) and then transferred to Independence Community College for the 2019 season before choosing Houston over several other FBS options.
Height: 5-foot-8 3/4
Weight: 165 pounds
40 time: 4.49 seconds
It didn’t take long for Dell to make his presence felt with the Cougars, scoring in his second game with the program. He finished the season with three scores over 29 grabs and flashed a hint of what was to come. The 2021 campaign put defenders on notice as he broke out in a big way, only to follow it up with an even stronger showing in 2022. Dell would be recognized with first-team All-AAC honors in consecutive years.
Table: Tank Dell stats (2018-22)
*includes postseason/bowl games (stats from Sports Reference)
- Extremely productive and can leave a mark without huge volume
- Dangerous out of the slot but also works on the outside
- Above-average long speed but has immediate access to elite burst within a 10-yard split to get a step on a defensive back
- Offers utility for gadget plays
- Unafraid to mix it up in traffic
- Excellent feel for intermediate routes and rarely tips off his intentions
- Comes out of breaks crisply and uncovers with ease
- Can fit just about any NFL offensive style but is built for a spread design
- Doesn’t waste much motion getting up the field after the catch — while he’s plenty capable of juking defenders, Dell isn’t the jitterbug type we typically see from players of his size
- Tracks the ball well and makes necessary adjustments
- Can attack from all three levels of the route tree
- Special teams experience as both a kickoff and punt returner
- Thin build will open him up to increased injury risk and can make him easier to jam at the line
- Will be 24 years old as a rookie
- Physical stature limitations will hinder his effectiveness in some situations — small catch radius, not a serious threat for 50/50 balls, etc.
- His hands aren’t exactly a liability but there are enough examples of him having the ball knocked free in traffic before he can secure a reception. Pro Football Forecast attributes 21 drops to Dell over the last two seasons, albeit over a whopping 290 targets (7% drop rate).
- Offers almost nothing as a blocker
Fantasy football outlook
Dell isn’t as fast as DeSean Jackson or Hollywood Brown, but he’s a precise route runner who plays with an attitude and will come to an NFL team at a much cheaper price tag. He’s a likely Day 3 selection, probably going between the middle of Round 4 to the end of the fifth.
His Year 1 fantasy appeal should be limited to daily action or as a flier in deep setups. Over the long haul, Dell has WR2 fantasy potential but has a shorter career trajectory given his advanced age for a rookie.