Cincinnati Bengals tight end Pro Wells is looking to become another stand-out basketball player turn NFL star tight end. Following in the footsteps of all-time great players like Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates, and a more recent up and comer, Indianapolis Colts‘ Mo Alie-Cox.
And yes, he can do it.
What Wells shares with Gonzalez that he does not with Gates and Alie-Cox is experience playing tight end at the college level. What he has in common with Gates and Alie-Cox is that all three went undrafted.
At 6’3″ and 249 pounds, Wells’ stature compares well to Gonzalez who was listed at 6’4″, 244 pounds at his combine. As for his athletic profile, Wells stacks up well against the NFL combine numbers that Gonzalez put up. In fact, they both ran exactly a 4.83 40-yard dash.
With his college experience, Wells could have a similar rookie season to Gates and Gonzalez. Gates hauled in 24 receptions, 389 yards and two touchdowns in his rookie campaign. And that was after going undrafted.
In his rookie season, Gonzalez had 33 catches for 368 yards and two touchdowns. Very similar production to Gates from the No. 13 overall draft choice.
While Wells may have drawn some comparisons to Mo Alie-Cox, it is not out of the question to say that Wells could have a much greater immediate impact. Alie-Cox did not play a down of tight end at VCU while being a standout basketball player.
In spite of that, the Indianapolis Colts signed him to a UDFA deal in 2017. It took him a while to get his feet under him, but he had a breakout season last year with 31 receptions for 394 yards and two touchdowns.
Wells will not require as much time to get acclimated to the position after playing spending one year in Junior College and three years at TCU.
Much like the Bengals’ sixth-round selection, running back Chris Evans, Wells does not have a ton of college production. In the production he does have, however, he and Evans give us glimpses of what a special talent they can become at their respective positions.
Wells plays like a wide receiver. He displays soft hands and the ability to out-jump defenders for 50/50 balls. He also shows the ability and willingness to block, even though he was not asked to do it often.
Another possible advantage to matching rookie season output to that of Gonzalez or Gates is the return of Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow. If Wells is able to play well enough to make the roster, he will have one of the league’s youngest, most shining stars throwing him passes.
Pro Wells’ place on Bengals’ roster
If we were to think of Wells as more of a classic tight-end, he has some growing to do. However, if we think of him as a weapon and mismatch nightmare for defenses, then he should be able to produce immediately while learning on the fly the intricacies of the position.
If initially, he can be a third down, red zone pass catcher, he very well could have a surprise UDRFA year on par with Antonio Gates.
All of this is great to think about, but first, he has to make the final 53-man roster. Wells is going to have to climb out of a deep well to stake claim to a roster spot.
First, with guys such as the underrated former second-rounder, Drew Sample, and stalwart C.J. Uzomah all but guaranteed a spot, Wells is going to have to crawl over guys like veteran Mason Schreck and Burrow’s LSU teammate, Thaddeus Moss.
Wells is also going to have to improve his game where run blocking is concerned. He did line up inside at TCU, but he caused most of his damage from out wide.
Mastering the ins and outs of the position at the NFL level could take some time. With that said, Antonio Gates came in as a UDRFA and put up numbers comparable to first-rounder Gonzalez. So there is that.
He is going to have to ball out in training camp to make the final 53 this year but do not be surprised when he does. He is a young man who has been waiting a long time just for an opportunity to show what he can consistently do. Now he has that opportunity.
Will Wells be able to make the complete transition from basketball standout to legendary NFL tight end with the Bengals?
Only time will tell.
At least he has a shot on a pass-happy team with a great young quarterback.