DEON YELDER | TE | WESTERN KENTUCKY
Height: 6025 | Weight: 256 | Arm: 32 13/4" | Hand: 9 1/2" | 40: 4.72 | Broad: 120" | Vertical: 33.5"
Deon Yelder is a a four-year walk on dynamic move TE who amazingly did not receive his scholarship until this offseason. Yelder played basketball and football at Louisville High School and missed his only opportunity for a scholarship from then-Head Coach Jeff Brohm after missing the bus to his workout. Yelder's mother worked at AT&T and his father worked in construction, so he didn't always have transportation and would have to commute over an hour to get to football practice. Despite playing in 14 games as a junior on Special Teams with the Hilltoppers, Yelder did not make his first catch until the 2017 season and absolutely blew up. Yelder led all Conference USA Tight Ends in receiving yards in 2017 and was a late add to the Senior Bowl, where he showed well throughout the week.
Yelder possesses a sculpted physique and boasts outstanding size, a high shoulder shelf, ands solid wingspan. Yelder is an explosive athlete with outstanding leaping ability, affording him an enormous catch radius as a downfield target in the passing game.
Yelder’s capability of executing the route tree with speed to create separation on a variety of routes makes him a match up nightmare for opposing defenses. On Flat routes, Yelder does a good job of using his length to box out defenders and extend his long arms to catch the football away from his body and turn up field with urgency and search for the first down sticks. Yelder has the speed to accelerate away from defensive backs on Deep Over routes and can stretch the field laterally and horizontally with his speed. Yelder shows good mental capacity to maintain enthusiasm in his routes when his QB is scrambling and does a good job of identifying soft spots in coverage to make himself available. Yelder has very natural hands and exhibits terrific body control to adjust his momentum, stab, and stash passes thrown behind him. Yelder is very difficult to bring down due to his play strength and it usually takes at least two players to bring him to the turf. Yelder is still developing as a pass blocker when aligned at the LOS and while he is stout at the point of attack, he has a tendency to get grabby and can trigger holding calls when the QB starts to scramble under pressure.
Yelder's coaches at WKU share that he is "extremely coachable" and what separates Yelder from other players is his "heart, tenacity, and competitive nature." Yelder is similar in body type and play style to Jonnu Smith and must continue to work on his blocking technique and footwork. Yelder likely isn't ready to be an immediate starter at the NFL, but projects as a nice developmental move TE in a West Coast Offense who should be selected somewhere around Round 5.
Overall Grade: 76
Athletic Ability: 5
Play Strength: 6
Play Speed: 6
Competitive Toughness: 7
In-Traffic/Contested Catches: 4
Spectacular Catch: 2
Route Precision: 4
Route Variety: 4
Red Zone Threat: 3
After-Catch Ability: 4
Blocking Technique: 3
Blocking Willingness: 5
Player Comparison: Jonnu Smith
Projected Round: Round 5
For information on our grading criteria, click here.