It is never easy for non-FBS players to generate the hype that guys from big factory schools like LSU, Clemson, Alabama, or Ohio State will get, let alone make enough waves to be discussed as perhaps the best player in their position group. Sure, there is a handful of them that get invited to the Senior Bowl, and that is where they can make a name for themselves, but even then, the journey is arduous. Lenoir-Rhyne safety Kyle Dugger has done a great job of generating buzz off of the combine and is firmly in the Day 2 picture. But the other small school winner of that week was Dayton tight end Adam Trautman, who is now my top-overall tight end in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Trautman’s meteoric rise began before the Senior Bowl. Still, prior to the Senior Bowl, a lot of people did not take the Day 2 hype that Senior Bowl director Jim Nagy had been pushing for weeks before the event in Mobile. Now, however, after delving into his tape, the hype has become all too real, and it is a legitimate possibility that Trautman goes top-50 in April at the NFL Draft. That is not something you often see for guys, even if they are from the FCS like Trautman is coming from Dayton.
In this tight end class, there a lot of specific molds that these prospects fit into when you look at it. For example, Hunter Bryant is far more of a receiving tight end that can break the big play and bust the defense up the seam. He is more receiver than a blocker right now and has to be flexed out. The versatility to move in-line with him is not there. It seems that there are not a lot of guys that can do both. And that is what makes Trautman so different from a lot of guys in this class. He can do both and is proficient in both blocking and being a threat in the passing game.
Trautman’s functional athleticism in the open field is fantastic. But perhaps even more impressive is how hard it is to tackle him in the open field. He plays like an absolute tank with room to maneuver. And when he gets into the open field, that is when you see that he is just on another level of play from everyone down in the FCS level. You can dump it off to him and observe on film that he will break it loose for another twenty yards just because of his contact balance and physicality.
One of the things I did not expect to see diving into Trautman’s film was his ability to run routes. He is fluid and can leave some defensive backs wondering where their shoes are at times. That will allow him to do a lot more than just put a hand in the dirt. He can flex out and work against the defensive backs he will see. Trautman can line up as an H-back, align in the slot, and even work to the boundary as an outside receiver. He is going to be moved around the offense, and that completeness he has is why he is so highly coveted.
And then there is the ability to climb the ladder in the traffic and make these tough contested grabs. Trautman has no problem using his physicality to bully guys and win at the catch point. He was bullying guys in and out of breaks in Mobile, and nothing was different on his tape. This is a guy who carries himself with a metaphorical ‘big stick’ and cracks down on everyone in his path.
Trautman is a small-school prospect that is rising up boards and for all the right reasons. He is a guy who can move around the offensive position map and open up an offense as a lead tight end in the NFL. This is a guy who will be drafted on Day 2 and will be a healthy contributor in the NFL for years to come.