By: Vinnie Calderone | @CenzoNFL
Although the tight end position has evolved into a hybrid position, there is still a considerable need for blocking tight ends that do the dirty work. Dylan Soehner has embodied that role throughout his Iowa State career. Need to clear the hole? He is extremely productive in the run blocking game for the Cyclones. Soehner was part of a lethal tight end group that may have been the best in all of college football. After an impressive 2020 season, Soehner spoke with the NFL Draft Bible to answer a few questions regarding his career at Iowa State.
Traits are valuable for NFL prospects, as most are drafted solely based on them. It’s crucial to be able to block, and Soehner embraces that skill-set as a tight end. “I think my best trait is that I love blocking and opening holes,” Soehner stated. “Obviously, I’m good at it but the fact that I find that part of the game enjoyable is a great trait to have.”
Soehner has undoubtedly gained the attention of NFL scouts for that reason. The NFL needs athletic tight ends who can move, while also being effective blockers in both the pass and run game. His ability to drive defensive ends off the ball has become something the Cyclones relied upon for most of the season.
The Cyclones finished 9-3 overall in 2020, capping off the season with a massive win over Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl. “We were able to be so successful during this hectic season because of the leadership that we have,” Soehner explained. “This starts with the head coach being a great leader and our senior class being great leaders for the young guys. One day at a time was our mentality the whole way through.”
There’s certainly a buzz around Iowa State, especially among recruits, created by players like Soehner, who bought into what head coach Matt Campbell is building in Ames. You can sense a real family atmosphere when watching them play.
The Prairie Grove, Arkansas native grew up about 430 miles from Iowa State. As a senior at Prairie Grove High School, he chose Iowa State over Illinois, Purdue and Missouri, amongst others. He earned All-USA Arkansas First-Team All-State honors and All-Conference awards after catching 38 passes, for 628 receiving yards and nine touchdowns as a senior.
He was a dual-sport athlete, playing basketball, baseball and track, while earning All-State honors in basketball. Soehner had a lot of raw talent during his high school career, which he developed once he arrived to Iowa State. His routes were much crisper this year and that’s a testament to his hard work in Ames.
The Iowa State tight end was named First Team All-Academic in the Big 12 for three straight years (2018, 2019, 2020). The 2020 season culminated with Soehner being named All-Big 12 Honorable Mention by fellow coaches in the conference. However, if you ask Soehner, that’s not his focus when playing ball. “The honorable mention all-conference is a great accolade to receive but it’s not why I play the game,” Soehner said. “I’ve lived in a role that doesn’t get a ton of recognition and I kind of thrive off of that and being the ‘dirty work’ guy. But it is nice to receive a pat on the back from peers and obviously a great honor.”
After being redshirted his freshman year, Soehner has come a long way as a player. He began to see the field more for the Cyclones and for good reason. His blocking ability, complemented by his ability to do things in the passing game has increased his opportunities since his redshirt freshman season. “My route running has improved a ton since I got to campus,” Soehner said. “I was a very, very raw talent out of high school and it definitely took a lot of development for me in all areas and there’s still a lot of room for more of that to take place. But, I have been running the best routes of my life this year. It just hasn’t gotten seen by many outside of practice because our scheme doesn’t have me in those positions a lot.”
Soehner was recently invited to the East-West Shrine Bowl. Despite not having an actual game this year due to COVID-19 concerns, the committee is partnering with the NFL to provide the prospects an education on the NFL Draft process. The Shrine Bowl has been around for almost
100 years. It’s a huge honor to be invited and acknowledged for your college football success. Soehner’s stock has grown as the season went on and is undoubtedly heightened even further, due to the invite to the prestigious event.
As we prepare for the NFL Draft and evaluate the prospects available, a player like Soehner could undoubtedly be useful for any NFL team with a power run game, that can also spread it out. His size, athleticism and pass-catching ability make him a valuable player to have on your team. Soehner possesses the potential to develop into a dynamic player, if drafted into a scheme that allows him to run more routes. Tight ends have become a premium position due to versatility and Soehner is a perfect example of that.