The two best tight ends in the NFL over the past three seasons were George Kittle and Travis Kelce. What does Adam Trautman have in common with these incredibly prolific tight ends? These three tight ends were overlooked coming out of college and recorded fantastic measurements at the NFL combine. Yet, all three dynamic players were selected in the third-round or later (Kittle was a fifth round draft pick).
Furthermore, Adam Trautman and Travis Kelce were both star quarterbacks in high school before transitioning to tight end in college.
Trautman won’t be the first New Orleans Saints rookie to strive for stardom as a third-round draft pick. Alvin Kamara was indeed a third round draft. Similar to Kamara, Sean Payton traded up to get Trautman in the third-round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Similarly, Saints fans might remember another tight end drafted in the third-round by the name of Jimmy Graham, who only made three pro bowls and recorded 16 receiving touchdowns in a single year. It’s safe to say that the genius play caller will have a plan ready for Trautman.
Adam Trautman will fit the Saints offense very well and be more than a third-round steal in his rookie campaign.
Trautman doesn’t only separate himself from the other tight ends drafted in his class, but he possesses characteristics that make him special in the league. The tight end who was the first player drafted out of Dayton in 43 years, could put on a show in his first year. Trautman has the traits and situation to be the first tight end in NFL history to win Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Trautman has insane physical attributes
Here is a list of the tight ends to run a sub 7.00 second three-cone time at the 2020 NFL Combine (three-cone is a test for quickness and agility):
- Adam Trautman
That’s it. That’s the entire list.
Trautman ran a 6.78 second three-cone time, which placed him first at the position by a landslide. The next closest time was 7.00. His time compares favorably to other All-Pro offensive players on his team and in the league. Michael Thomas ran a 6.8 which was slightly faster, while Vernon Davis ( ran a 4.38), who’s the most athletic tight end to ever take the field, posted a 7.00 time.
Trautman brings that size and athletic combination to the next level. He’s not only very explosive, he’s all 6-foot 5-inches 250 pounds. George Kittle is standing at 6-foot 4-inches, while Vernon Davis comes in at 6-foot 3-inches, and every inch makes a big difference in their annual jump balls, blocking frame, and one handed catches.
What else does this small school tight end bring to the table?
Serious college production that can help him translate year one
There are few reasons why a tight end has never won Offensive Rookie of the Year. For starters, they play a position where they block a lot and don’t get sought out to be the main receiving target in a game plan. The biggest reason is because the elite tight ends today, were very raw and didn’t dominate in their rookie season.
George Kittle: Pro Football Focus’s No. 1 overall player in 2019 - First Team All-Pro in 2019, -Set the receiving yards record for a tight end in 2018 with 1,377,
Rookie season: 515 receiving yards and 2 receiving touchdowns
Travis Kelce: Two time first team All-Pro, SB champion, and voted No. 26 on the league’s 2019 top 100 list.
Rookie season: 862 receiving yards and 5 receiving touchdowns
The two best tight ends squared off in the Super Bowl, leaving fans to wonder if an elite tight end makes a drastic increase in team success. Kelce and Kittle both had four receiving touchdowns in the playoffs.
These two elite tight ends took time to develop their all around play-making skills, particularly receiving skills. Not every tight end who’s 6’4+ and exceptionally quick had years of well-rounded receiving production before entering the league.
George Kittle and Travis Kelce both had 10 career receiving touchdowns in college to have a combined 20 receiving touchdowns between both of their collegiate careers. Adam Trautman recorded 31 receiving touchdowns in his career. Granted, he played at a smaller school, but he had worse offensive skill around him and he still managed to triple Kittle’s and Kelce’s numbers.
Receiving skills can be a bit rough for a tight end in a rookie year, even elite professional wide receivers can drop 10 passes in a season. When a rookie tight end has the potential to garner 60-70 targets in their rookie season, having years of dominant hands at the NCAA Division I level can still add up to serve it’s purpose.
Trautman can have elite athletic ability and college production to make him an attracted reason to dominate in his first year. The biggest reason for him to stand out among the league’s best as a rookie tight end, lies in the hands of his supporting cast.
Saints have had a top 5 scoring offense every year from 2016-2020
Saints WR Michael Thomas came into the league as a second-round draft pick. In the fourth year of his career, he became the second receiver ever to win Offensive Player of The Year. As mentioned, Alvin Kamara entered the league as a third-round draft pick and just made his third straight pro bowl. Let’s not forget recent Saints Hall of Famer Marques Colston who was undrafted, undrafted Super Bowl champion featured running back Pierre Thomas, and undrafted WR Lance Moore who had a 1,000 yard receiving season.
There is no better coach than Sean Payton at utilizing a player to their highest ability.
Drew Brees deservedly earns his spotlight for his “likely last season”. Michael Thomas might be the best WR in football, Emmanuel Sanders was signed this off-season to have a career year in Sean Payton’s offense. They even have a TE named Jared Cook who’s a Pro-Bowler in 2019 and clearly is fitting in well, but everybody is sleeping on the rookie Adam Trautman.
This all bodes well for the rookie tight end of out “Dayton” college to step in and excel. Teams have to prepare with their elite defenders for Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, there’s no doubt about it. When Kamara is in shotgun or in the slot, they need a quality cover player there for sure.
I’m intrigued to see how teams will account for a tight end who might be near physically gifted with his size/athletic combination to Michael Thomas. It would be a gift on a silver platter if Drew Brees could link to Trautman with a team’s fourth best cover player defending the highly talented rookie.
The Saints were very fortunate to scoop up arguably the best tight end in this year’s rookie class. The Saints coach saw loads of potential when he traded up in the the third-round to draft him. Sean Payton has taken a lot of heat in the past for trading up in the third-round to draft offensive skill players that weren’t seen as a dire position need. He traded up to snag Alvin Kamara in the 2017 third-round, when there was Adrian Peterson and Mark Ingram on the team. Those two are both gone and Kamara has filled in as the feature back. There’s a method to Coach Payton’s madness.
Trautman can see the field and earn lots of playing time, even with their surplus of receiving talent. Outside of that statement, TE Jared Cook who may very well start and will sure ably see his fair share of snaps, turns 34-years-old next April.
Trautman will fit in well with the tight end talent on the team. Trautman will presumably steal more of Taysom Hill’s snaps at the tight end position. Taysom Hill is a great athlete, but he might be the rawest receiver in the whole league. The undrafted quarterback/every position on offense except O line, attracted lots of passing targets last year and had seven receiving touchdowns. I’m excited to see what the highly touted tight end, Trautman, can do filling in at tight end under Sean Payton’s aerial attack.