Virginia Tech tight end James Mitchell came into the season riding a wave of expectation as a 2022 NFL Draft prospect. However, an injury deprived of us seeing him develop into his full potential this season. Nonetheless, Mitchell’s scouting report showcases a skill set that should help him hear his name called in Las Vegas and allow the Virginia Tech TE to carve out a role in the NFL.
James Mitchell NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Tight End
- School: Virginia Tech
- Current Year: Senior
- Height: 6’4″
- Weight: 249 pounds
- Wingspan: 77 3/4″
- Arm: 32 7/8″
- Hand: 9 3/4″
James Mitchell Scouting Report
Although the 2022 NFL Draft tight end class doesn’t contain a first-round, Kyle Pitts-esque freak-of-nature prospect, it’s a class that has a plethora of playmakers scattered throughout Day 2 and Day 3. There are potential starters and impact-makers available, no matter how your team makes use of the NFL’s utility position.
Mitchell certainly fits within that “potential impact-maker” role that teams are likely to find on Day 3 of the 2022 NFL Draft. While serious injury in his senior season may cloud his projection and make his evaluation a little tricky, his scouting report reveals a talented tight end with plenty to offer.
At a confirmed 6’4″ and 249 pounds, Mitchell has decent size for the position. Furthermore, with 32 7/8″ arms, his length is sufficient to be a pass-catching threat at the next level. Although he hasn’t been able to test due to his injury recovery, his play speed seems faster than his recorded 4.76 40-yard dash from high school.
Mitchell is an alluring prospect as a pass catcher. His tape is littered with excellent examples of his securing catches in even the toughest of situations. The Virginia Tech TE is a reliable receiver, with zero dropped receptions in the games studied. This isn’t simply the result of excellent quarterback play. He can make remarkable adjustments to the ball, even bending his 6’4″ frame down to scoop the ball up from within an inch of the turf.
Pass catching, special-teams versatility, and blocking experience
With body control, ball tracking, and strong, reliable hands, Mitchell can also add red-zone threat into his repertoire. He’s a big-bodied target who uses his frame to box out defenders and his reliable hands to be a secure target. Additionally, the Virginia Tech TE has experience as a screen threat. Here, he demonstrates deceptive speed and impressive footwork. He has the agility to stop on a dime and add yards after the catch.
As a result of his pass-catching prowess, Mitchell has been used in multiple alignments. During his Virginia Tech career, the tight end has been used inline, from the slot, and even in motion. In addition to special-teams experience, he presents as a versatile option for an NFL team.
When used inline, Mitchell has been tasked with both run blocking and some pass-protection reps. He’s an experienced blocker who flashes some football intelligence, routinely reading blocks and moving up to the second level to neutralize linebackers. He showcases some impressive attributes as a blocker, playing with correct posture and attempting to lock out and manipulate his opponent.
Mitchell also showcases some play strength as a blocker, particularly against the run. In summation, Mitchell presents as a versatile NFL Draft tight end prospect with particularly impressive pass-catching ability. A former team captain, he plays with competitive toughness while possessing special-teams experience. That should help him carve out an NFL role while developing.
Areas for improvement
Mitchell should hear his name called on Day 3 of the 2022 NFL Draft. However, there are some areas for improvement and concern on his scouting report. These have the potential to limit his ascension as an NFL player. That said, they are largely areas that can improve with coaching.
The majority of those relate to his ability as a blocker. While there’s no doubting his willingness, some technical improvements are needed. Mitchell’s hand placement as a blocker means he can be easy to shed. Furthermore, the same issue allows his opponent to get inside his frame and shock him with an initial punch.
Although he’s impressive as a pass catcher, there’s some room for development here. Mitchell has shown he can be an impressively agile athlete with good body control. If he could translate that to his route running, it would be hugely beneficial to his game. He can be inconsistent in not just this area but in terms of running routes at full speed.
Finally, the biggest area of concern for NFL teams will be his ACL injury. There is, of course, every chance that he regains full fitness with no detriment to his athletic ability. However, it’s impossible to ascertain that with any certainty at this moment in time. That and the loss of an entire season of game tape to study may count against Mitchell during the NFL Draft.
Mitchell’s Player Profile
While the lack of exposure in 2021 has meant that Mitchell has slipped under the NFL Draft radar somewhat, the Virginia Tech TE was something of a small-school sensation at Union High School. A two-time first-team All-Conference basketball player in addition to his football exploits, he was tantamount to a celebrity in Big Stone Gap, Virginia.
While basketball and even some experience at quarterback highlighted Mitchell’s athletic excellence, he did his best work as a pass catcher. Despite playing for a smaller school at one of the lower levels of Virginia high school football, he was named All-State in all four seasons he played for Union.
During his career, he tallied 756 receiving yards from just 42 catches — almost a quarter of those resulted in touchdowns. In his final season for Union, with his college future yet to be decided, Mitchell was named the 2017 VHSL 21 Offensive Player of the Year.
Mitchell’s performances allowed him to overcome the usual small-school issue of being overlooked in the recruiting process. A four-star recruit, he held 15 offers, including from programs like Georgia and Clemson. However, having told GobblerCountry.com that both he and his father were lifelong Hokies fans, it was almost inevitable that the Virginia native would choose Virginia Tech.
Mitchell’s career at Virginia Tech
Although he was predominantly used on special teams during his freshman season, Mitchell did see some action at tight end during the 2018 season. Subsequently, the playmaking tight end prospect earned the first start of his career against Marshall. However, he’d have to wait until 2019 to make a serious impact as a pass catcher.
Mitchell’s sophomore season began with a bang, bagging a touchdown against Boston College. Against Miami (FL), the Virginia Tech TE snagged a career-long 67-yard catch. Meanwhile, he added rushing touchdown No. 2 during his 4-touchdown 2019 campaign. Touchdown No. 4 came in a game against Pitt where he wore the famous No. 25 Hokies jersey. Mitchell ended his sophomore season with 361 yards and 6 total touchdowns.
Mitchell’s NFL Draft ascension
After a stellar sophomore season, Mitchell emerged into the national spotlight as a junior. Starting the 2020 season with a touchdown in three straight games, the Virginia Tech TE secured a career-high 103 yards, a receiving score, and a rushing touchdown in the third game of that streak. He averaged over 15 yards per catch in more than half of his games, with four games averaging over 20 yards per catch.
In 10 games with nine starts, Mitchell tallied 435 yards and a team-leading 4 touchdowns. As a result, he entered the 2021 season with high expectations. After tallying 36 yards that included an 11-yard touchdown in the season-opening win over North Carolina, the Virginia Tech TE’s season came to a dramatic halt against Middle Tennessee State.
Although reports suggested he was held out of the rest of that game for precautionary reasons, it transpired that Mitchell had torn his ACL. The injury required surgery, ruling him out for the rest of his senior season. While he could have redshirted and returned to the Hokies, he opted to declare for the 2022 NFL Draft.
Despite the injury, Mitchell still received an invite to the NFL Combine. Still recuperating, he didn’t work out in Indianapolis. Indeed, he only completed the bench press (18 reps) during Virginia Tech’s Pro Day. However, the expectation is that he’ll be up to speed by the start of the NFL season, allaying potential fears for his long-term projection.
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