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2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Cade Stover

The most challenging yet demanding position in football has quickly become that of tight end, evolving from the hard-nosed tough Mike Ditka to the versatile pass-catching phenom Rob Gronkowski. No other group on the field has garnered as much responsibility and evolved into a hybrid position without the glitz and glamor of consistent top-ten draft prospects. I had to alter my admittedly biased perspective of Cade Stover and the overall position. 

Initially recruited to play outside linebacker out of Mansfield, Ohio, Cade Stover quickly moved to edge rusher before splitting time at tight end. It wasn't until the 2022 season that Buckeye fans saw Stover switch to offense full-time. Although, at times, he has looked rough around the edges, he has proven to be a student of the game, willing to learn, improve, and help his team win any way he can.   

Player Bio

Name: Cade Stover

Jersey Number: No. 8

Position: Tight End

School: Ohio State 

Class: Senior

Height: 6'4"

Weight: 215 lbs 

Games Watched: Notre Dame (2022, 2023), Indiana (2023), Wisconsin (2022), Georgia (2022 CFP Peach Bowl), Penn State (2022)

Major Injury History: Cade Stover had a nagging knee injury during the 2023 campaign that accumulated to some missed snaps. He also suffered an apparent back injury during the 2022 Peach Bowl, but the MRI returned negative. 

Player Breakdown

Blocking (16/20)

The fact that Stover has switched positions and sides of the ball should not be lost on anyone. His blocking is seen as wildly inconsistent but shows a great deal of promise. There are plays where he whiffs on the backside and others where he uses his size, strength, and speed to chip and get to the second level. Whatever Stover lacks in experience, he makes up for in sheer determination.  

Route Running (13/15)

The running theme on Cade Stover is lack of experience. This is another category where he can and should improve his skill set. He is agile and great at making mid-route adjustments, which is becoming increasingly sought after as the position evolves. However, his flexibility is questionable, meaning he won't be able to reach back for errant passes to save his quarterback.  


Release (7/10) 

Very few tight ends possess Stover's speed and strength. His ability to jump off the ball sets him up for clean strides that close in on and overwhelm linebackers quickly. Unfortunately, he lacks a dominant move to maintain that initial separation. Stover will also need to learn to adapt to complex defensive schemes that will be employed against him.  

Tracking (8/10)

One of the best parts of Stover's game is his ability to track the ball mid-air, adjust, and haul in the catch. And while he has over 70 catches in two seasons, given all the other receiving talent in Columbus, the sample size isn't quite large enough for a higher score. 

Run After Catch (7.5/10)

A tough man coverage can easily negate Stover's speed in space. However, his physical strength will help him power through weak arm tackles, allowing him to gain a few extra yards after the catch. He has earned the nickname "farmer Gronk" for a good reason, even if the "insert niche attribute Gronk" monicker is becoming a trope. He will need time to develop those skills in the league. What's most important is that he is clutch on 3rd downs and in the red zone. 

Hands/Ball Security (9/10) 

If you can touch the ball, you have to be able to catch it. That said, there is no doubt that Stover can catch the ball as long as it is within reach. He repeatedly proves to have soft hands and uses his eyes to bring in nearly every catchable pass thrown his way.  

Contested Catch (9/10) 

Stover is a brawler. He is strong, physical, and tough. He can take a 50/50 ball away from any defender. This comes in handy, mainly when the offense is in the red zone. Stover demonstrates those soft hands in conjunction with pure strength and leverage, ripping the ball out of defenders' hands nearly every time.  

Versatility (8/10) 

Stover's score is so high in versatility because he has been successful in whatever position he has played in Columbus. It takes a rare breed of athlete to convert to a different side of the ball. This has worked out in Ohio State's favor a few times but has rarely translated to the next level. Stover can also come out of the backfield as an impromptu fullback, although his blocking may need some work. In the film I watched, I didn't see many trick plays where Stover was the foil, but Ohio State has just begun using the tight ends in more versatile approaches.  

Athleticism (4.5/5) 

There is no doubt that Cade Stover is a physical specimen. He is deceptively fast and extremely strong and uses all these tools to his advantage. It isn't every day you can see a tight end hurdling opponents with ease.  

Player Summary 

Cade Stover will come into this draft as the second or third-best tight end. However, since tight end has not yet reached the pinnacle of importance, there is a steep dropoff where he'll be selected compared to Brock Bowers out of Georgia. Stover will most assuredly be a project and may never develop into more than a system-tight end. That doesn't mean that teams shouldn't take a risk on him.  

I like everything about Stover at tight end. He has all the tangibles that make for a stellar prospect. You cannot deny his size, speed, and strength, just like you cannot overlook his inexperience. Looking at the positives, Stover's ability to change sides of the ball and, within two seasons, become a top-five prospect in that position is nothing less than impressive. Teams will have to temper their expectations in relation to that inexperience. The return on investment is well worth the risk of a day two mid-round pick. 

Rookie Projections: Top-Tier Backup 

Third-Year Projections: Outside Shot at All-Pro 

Final Grade: (82/100) Late 2nd Round Talent

Tight End Cade Stover
(Photo by Ben Jackson/Getty Images)


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