* Indicates pro day results.
Likely played myriad positions in high school, but didn’t make his way to TE. After 2 strong seasons at WR, though, he was just a 2-star recruit who find offers primarily from nearby FCS schools. It was Coastal Carolina that envisioned a move to TE.
As a true freshman, Likely tied for the team lead in TD catches despite ranking just 6th in receptions. His role ramped up late in the year, with 4 of those scores coming over the final 3 contests.
The next season found Likely ranking 3rd on the team in receptions and 2nd in receiving yards, while taking the TD lead for himself. He earned 3rd-team all-conference honors and even landed on the watch list for the John Mackey Award (nation’s top TE).
Likely averaged 20.0 yards per catch as a junior despite playing much of the year with a foot injury that required post-season surgery. He turned 15.7% of receptions into 21.6% of the receiving yards and 17.2% of TD catches.
Likely’s final season found him jumping to 24.3% target share, well above any previous college campaign. He turned that into 26% of Chanticleers receptions, 26.4% of receiving yards and 36.4% of TD catches. The TE earned multiple All-America and all-conference nods and was a semifinalist for the John Mackey Award.
Let’s kick this section off in style with Likely’s best-known play.
He gets a free release off the line and wide-open catch of a well-thrown ball, so there’s not a lot of standout skill involved here. But that is also a TE running 99 yards downfield with a chasing DB making up no meaningful ground on him.
Likely appears to move better than his lackluster 40 time would suggest, though he gets at least a slight boost there from lower-level FBS competition.
Here’s that movement involved in a more repeatable play …
Another thing that stood out to me, though, was Likely’s propensity for awkward body catches.
He still made the play in both of those cases, but that method won’t stand up as well when the defenders are faster, closer and savvier.
Here’s another play where going up for the body catch rather than snatching the ball with his hands appeared to keep Likely from getting a foot down in bounds to complete the reception.
Perhaps that’s a fixable issue. The hands are there, at least.
Likely got plenty of run-blocking experience in Coastal’s RPO- and option-heavy scheme. He looks willing in that area but also doesn’t stand out as a blocker. He’ll need to add bulk to hold up in such a role. We’ll see what his drafting team says about its plan for where to line him up.
Once we get past the disappointment of this class lacking any top-shelf TE talent, you can find a number of later-round rookie picks with upside. Likely fits into that area.
He spent just 36.4% of his career pass snaps in the slot or out wide, playing in a run-friendly offense. But Likely looks like a player who should split out more in the NFL.
A standout player vs. Sun Belt Conference competition, he’ll almost certainly need time to develop his game and find his niche before making a significant impact in the pros.
Likely profiles as an upside 4th-round pick for dynasty rookie drafts.