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2018 NFL Draft Profiles: Tight End Will Dissly

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The DE turned TE from Montana projects as a late round pick in this weekend’s draft.

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Penn State vs Washington Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

When Will Dissly first signed with Washington, some viewed it as a joke. Why was Washington taking recruits who were Mountain West afterthoughts? Well as it turns out, Willy D can play some football and he blossomed into a 4 year contributor for the Dawgs and likely NFL Draftee. Let’s see how it all played out.

As a high school recruit

Washington’s 2014 class was a transition class that Petersen cobbled together right after he was hired. Sticking with his Boise State recruiting footprint, Petersen located Dissly in Bozeman, Montana coming off a senior season in which he was named the Gatorade State Player of the Year. He was also a Parade All-American honorable mention and was just the 2nd player ever from Montana to earn Parade recognition. The top rated player in the state only had offers from Boise State and UW and projected as a DE in college. His composite rating on 24/7 listed him as the 111th best weak-side defensive end in the country. Coming from Montana, there was a sense he was being overlooked as the level of high school competition is not the best in Big Sky Country.

As a Husky

#WillDissly4Heisman. Enough said.

In all seriousness, would Dissly be where he is today if he hadn’t switched to TE? He played defensive line in 6 games his freshman season, and was one of only a few players that season not to be red shirted. The memorable moment in his freshman year came during a home game vs Cal. With the game in hand, Cal was trying to punch it into the end zone on 4th down to make the score more respectable. Dissly broke through the line and made a huge tackle to keep the Bears from scoring. The 2015 season saw him continue to play DL, where he played in all 13 games. He earned his first start against Stanford, and had a TFL in the Arizona game. His best game came against WSU where he had a sack and force fumble en route to Washington’s 45-10 win.

The 2016 season is when things began to change for the Washington football program and Dissly himself. While he flashed potential as a defensive lineman, it was becoming clear that the he wasn’t going to become a starter there. During bowl game practices in his sophomore year, he switched to tight end, and hasn’t looked back. Washington needed depth at the position, and he formed a great partnership with Drew Sample as UW’s hard nosed, blocking TEs.

His first career reception came against Sacramento State, and he turned it into a 27 yard touchdown. His junior year showed a lot of promise as a blocker and his efforts were a big reason why the offense turned the corner that season and won the Pac-12. He showed some nice mitts catching the ball, but his role was always going to be primarily as an edge sealing tough guy.

After starting just 5 games as a junior, he earned 11 starts as a senior and was one of the teams most dependable blockers. The best game of his career came this past season against his hometown Montana Grizzlies of the FCS ranks. He had 5 receptions for 79 yards and 2 TDs, all of which were career highs. He finished his Husky career by winning the Husky Excellence Award at the team’s post season awards banquet.

A true Husky and Chris Petersen player in every sense.

As an NFL Prospect

From an NFL perspective, Dissly is still a vastly inexperienced player with only 2 years of TE under his belt, not including the time he played there in high school. He projects as an “inline” or Y tight end - essentially the blocking kind of TE. He’s nothing special as an athlete but his combine numbers will help his case:

40 Yard Dash: 4.87 seconds

Bench Press (225 lbs): 15 reps

Vertical Jump: 28 inches

Broad Jump: 111 inches

3 Cone Drill: 7.07 seconds

20 Yard Shuttle: 4.4 seconds

60 Yard Shuttle: 12.12

His time in the 3 cone shuttle was one of the better times for a TE at the combine, but other than that did not jump out athletically in any other area.

He’s 6-4, weighs 262 pounds and has a broad chest and shoulders, ideal for blocking. He finishes blocks, keeps his feet moving, and shows a lot of toughness driving defenders backwards.

While he wasn’t used extensively as a receiver, he does have good hands, and shows good concentration in finding openings against the defense. However, he might struggle as a downfield threat with his vertical leap and lack of explosiveness running routes. Some scouts view him as similar to former UTSA All-American and current Minnesota Viking, David Morgan. In short, teams that utilize an in-line blocking TE in the run game will look to draft Dissly in the later rounds.

Projection: 6th Round