The Las Vegas Raiders have the best wide receiver in the NFL in Davante Adams; however, the team needs more offensive playmakers. As of now, it remains to be seen what happens with star tight end Darren Waller and potentially Hunter Renfrow. Also, Mack Hollins will become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. So for Silver and Black, the wide receiver position could become a team necessity sooner rather than later. Nathaniel “Tank” Dell of the Houston Cougars offers more than just receiver, but also a special-teams threat.
Background of Nathaniel “Tank” Dell
The star receiver for the University of Houston is a native of Daytona Beach, Florida. Dell led his team in both categories as a receiver and return specialist for Daytona Beach Mainland High School. As a result, he was a three-star qualified recruit and was ranked 124th nationally as a prospect. He had offers from Central Michigan, New Mexico State, Old Dominion and USF, but chose Houston over him. In his three-year stint with the Cougars, he started every game (32), missing none through injury. The 5-foot-10, 165-pound 2022 team captain was the engine of the Cougars’ offense. Here are just a few of the feats the Biletnikoff semifinalist accomplished in 2022:
- Pro Football Focus (PFF) Second Team All-America
- Associated Press Third Team All-America
- Pro Football Focus (PFF) All-American Athletic Conference
- First-team All-American Athletic Conference
- National leader in receiving touchdowns (17)
- 17 touchdowns ranked third in single-season program history
- National leader in receiving yards (1,398)
- 1,398 receiving yards ranked fifth in single-season program history
- Led the nation with receiving touchdowns in 11 different games
- Leading nation with six multi-touchdown receiving games
- Second nationally in receiving yards per game (107.5)
- Second nationally in receptions per game (109)
- 109 receptions ranked second in single-season show history
- Eighth nationally in total touchdowns (18)
- Two TD receptions were the most by Cougar in a bowl game since December 31, 2015 (Chance Allen vs. Florida State – Peach Bowl)
- Six 100-yard receiving performances (ranked 5th nationally)
- One of seven players with a punt return touchdown and a receiving touchdown in a single game (November 26 vs. Tulsa)
- Over 150 receiving yards three times, including 180 yards on 130 receptions at SMU (Nov. 5)
- First Cougar with 180+ receiving yards and two TDs in a road game (November 5 at SMU) since Patrick Edwards (181 yards, 4 TDs) in Tulsa on November 25, 2011, ~Awards via UniversityofHouston.com
These accolades are made in part because of your unique God-given abilities.
Tank Dell’s athletic ability is explosive
As far as explosive college football players go, Tank Dell was the best in 2022, with 17 receiving touchdowns.
Tank Dell will make you lose yourself in a phone booth. pic.twitter.com/UTvy2GnLsj
— American Football (@American_FB) December 4, 2021
Dell is speed personified. When it comes to his road racing, his hands and footwork, it’s almost impossible to get your hands on him. However, for the opposing press cornerbacks, its release is deadly. Although he is less than six feet tall, this can be used to his advantage more often than not.
Tank Dell at the bottom of the screen facing a soft shoe press man. I love how he sells the vertical with pace, but also slightly looking back for the ball. He then quickly downshifts and breaks their path creating an instant separation. lovely
— Cover of Anthony 1 (@Pro__Ant) February 3, 2023
No matter where you are on the road, Dell creates separation with fast cuts and good pace. Therefore, these traits make him an excellent threat as a punt/kick returner.
Tank Dell is a threat to special teams
While Dell is an excellent receiver, he also works as an explosive ace on special teams. As the Cougars’ standout returner, he averaged 18.4 and 16.0 as a kick and punt specialist, respectively. When the ball touches his hands, he is a threat to drive it into the end zone every time.
Dell Tank | 68-yard punt return FOR TOUCHDOWN for the first points in the game | TLSA@HOU | 2023 NCAAF SEASON@UHCCougarFB @UHouston @ESPNU pic.twitter.com/ogvbluUrtV
— ATG MVP (@atg_mvp) November 27, 2022
The bottom line is that his impact is significant for a player some NFL teams may consider “too small.”
The Raiders need more athletes
For the Las Vegas Raiders, Tank Dell checks a lot of boxes, the main one being athleticism. The team lacks speed, and the Houston alumnus can make an immediate impact in that department. Plus, he could emerge as the team’s WR2, given the talents of Davante Adams, Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow, receiving most of the targets. Also, since Henry Ruggs III left the team, the team lacked a vertical threat in the passing game. Dell could provide that game-changing factor, along with handling return duties. Overall, Tank Dell would be a good investment for the Raiders in the 2023 NFL Draft.
*Photo above: USA Today Sports
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