Tucker Kraft raises draft day stock at South Dakota State football Pro Day

Jackrabbits tight end improves his 40 yard-dash time and excels in pass-catching drills in front of NFL scouts.

SDSU tight end Tucker Kraft talks to a Green Bay Packers scout at South Dakota State Pro Day on Friday, March 31, 2023 at the SJAC in Brookings.
Matt Zimmer/Forum News Service

BROOKINGS — Tucker Kraft wasn't thrilled with his performance at the NFL Combine almost a month ago. Friday in familiar surroundings at South Dakota State, the Jackrabbit tight end got a second chance to impress NFL scouts, and he did not disappoint.

Kraft was back in Brookings for SDSU Pro Day, and the 6-foot-5 Timber Lake native impressed in every way, likely improving his draft stock in front of the 23 scouts representing 20 NFL clubs that were in attendance.

"I think I made myself a little bit of money today," Kraft chuckled afterwards.

He's not wrong.

Projected as a potential top-50 pick by most scouting services, Kraft made a significant jump in his 40-yard dash on Friday, often regarded as the most important of the tests for skill position players. After clocking a 4.69 time at the Combine in Indianapolis, Kraft ran in the low 4.6's on his first attempt Friday, and did even better on his second, with a run that was unofficially clocked between 4.49 and 4.54 seconds, depending on whose stopwatch you checked.


Tucker Kraft snags a pass during receiving drills at South Dakota State Pro Day on Friday, March 31, 2023 at the SJAC in Brookings.
Matt Zimmer/Forum News Service

"After the Combine, I had to turn it up a notch," Kraft said. "I wanted to run a faster 40, because that's where the money's made. And then I wanted to jump higher because I know I can. You don't get a lot of warmup at the Combine, so that was something I emphasized here, just getting my body prepped. It was a good process today."

Kraft also added two inches to his vertical jump, to 36.5 inches, and weighed in at 259 pounds, five heavier than at the Combine. He also aced his pass catching drills, with no drops and a handful of impressive catches along the sideline and in the red zone, catching balls from SDSU quarterback Mark Gronowski and assistant coach (and former Augustana quarterback) Kyle Saddler.

"It's hard to get Mark to not throw a perfect ball," Kraft said. "I wanted him to make me look good. When we got down by the red zone I wanted him to put one high, back shoulder or away from a defender but he put it right on my chest."

Still, Kraft's hands and footwork were on full display no matter where the ball was thrown.

USF running back Thuro Reisdorfer prepares to run the short shuttle drill in front of a throng of NFL scouts at the South Dakota State Pro Day on Friday March 31, 2023 at the SJAC in Brookings.
Matt Zimmer/Forum News Service

While Kraft was the main attraction Friday (three NFL teams that planned to send scouts had to cancel due to the weather), there's always a chance that others outside the radar can get noticed on Pro Day, and this year was no exception. Kraft's teammate, defensive tackle Caleb Sanders, had a productive day. The All-American notched a whopping 31 reps on the bench press (225 pounds) and was quick and athletic in the rest of the tests. He's undersized at 6-foot-1, 287 pounds, but showed the same kind of explosiveness that made him an FCS wrecking ball in helping the Jacks to the 2022 national championship.

"I thought my numbers were really good all around," said Sanders, who had 40 tackles and 6.5 sacks this season. "You got to have goals of where you want to be and I fulfilled those all the way through. You got to treat all of it like it's a game, come out with the same mentality. You're fighting for a job with every other guy in the country."

South Dakota State defensive tackle Caleb Sanders runs the 40-yard dash at Jackrabbit Pro Day on Friday, March 31, 2023 at the SJAC in Brookings.
Matt Zimmer/Forum News Service

While Sanders likely won't get drafted, his coaches are hopeful he can get invited to a camp. They believe when Sanders puts on the pads for live action, that's where he'll be able to showcase his biggest strengths as a player.

SDSU wide receiver Landon Wolf and cornerback Malik Lofton also competed at Pro Day, while Augustana safety Eli Weber and USF running back (and Sioux Falls Washington grad) Thuro Reisdorfer were there as well.


SDSU football coach Jimmy Rogers (far right) visits with NFL scouts at the South Dakota State Pro Day on Friday March 31 2023 at the SJAC in Brookings.
Matt Zimmer/Forum News Service

Weber, who has good size for a defensive back at 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, looked smooth in agility drills and ran an unofficial 4.55 40-time. The three-time all-NSIC pick could be a rookie minicamp invite.

Reisdorfer, a three-time 1,000-yard rusher for the Cougars, drove up to Brookings on Thursday night to make sure the wintry weather didn't deny him a chance to get the attention of pro scouts.

Defensive backs Malik Lofton (left) of South Dakota State and Eli Weber of Augustana talk between drills at the South Dakota State Pro Day on Friday, March 31 at the SJAC in Brookings.
Matt Zimmer/Forum News Service

"I've been looking forward to this for a month," Reisdorfer said. While he dropped a couple passes and his 40-time came in at the 4.6 range, the 6-foot-1, 218-pounder leapt 38.5 inches in the vertical and put up an impressive 23 reps on the bench. He knows he's not getting drafted, but Reisdorfer said with the opportunities available in the CFL, XFL and USFL, attempting to get on the radar was a no-brainer.

"I'm just trying to get my foot in the door," he said.

Matt Zimmer is a Sioux Falls native and longtime sports writer. He graduated from Washington High School where he played football, legion baseball and developed his lifelong love of the Minnesota Twins and Vikings. After graduating from St. Cloud State University, he returned to Sioux Falls, and began a long career in amateur baseball and sports reporting. Email Matt at
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