The depth of the 2021 tight end class has frequently been advertised this year. One NFL Draft prospect who contributes to this depth is SMU tight end Kylen Granson. Granson isn’t a traditional tight end, but in the modern NFL, he has a lot of upside and versatility, which could be adequately molded by the right offensive coordinator.
Kylen Granson NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Tight End
- School: SMU
- Current Year: Redshirt Senior
- Height: 6’1 1/2″
- Weight: 242 pounds
- Wingspan: 79 1/2″
- Arm: 32″
- Hand: 9 3/8″
Tony Pauline’s Kylen Granson Scouting Report
Positives: Rice transfer who started the past two seasons for SMU. Productive pass-catcher who projects as a move tight end in the NFL. Athletic, consistently makes the reception with his hands, and displays good eye/hand coordination. Plays faster than his 40-time, nicely makes the reception in stride, and adjusts to grab the errant throw.
Effective running after the catch and works to pick up positive yardage. Does a terrific job working to come free and makes himself an available target. Shows good blocking vision, bends his knees, and blocks with leverage. Works hard in all aspects of the position.
Negatives: Shorter and has growth limitations. Lacks dominant strength as a blocker and needs a running start into opponents.
Analysis: Granson was a solid player the past two seasons and could be used as a move tight end or H-back at the next level. He’ll have a place on a roster as a third tight end.
Kylen Granson Player Profile
Even if Kylen Granson has to work a little bit to forge a niche in the NFL, that’s not a problem. Working to earn more opportunities is something Granson is familiar with. Through the early years of his football career, Granson wasn’t handed anything. A two-star recruit on 247 Sports, and an unranked player on ESPN’s board, Granson didn’t attract any substantial interest out of high school.
Just barely cracking the Top 500 in the state of Texas, Granson was largely overlooked. However, he did manage to earn one offer at the FBS level. The Rice Owls provided Granson with a chance to play college football, and Granson graciously accepted. Luckily for Granson, Rice was just a stepping stone, on his way to the NFL.
Kylen Granson’s journey to becoming an SMU tight end
Despite being just a two-star recruit, Granson saw playing time as a true freshman for the Owls. For Rice, he was a big-bodied wide receiver and was utilized as such. In his first year, Granson caught 33 passes for 381 yards and two touchdowns. His big debut season alluded to more success in the future. However, Granson’s second season wasn’t as inspiring. He only caught 18 passes for 241 yards that season, failing to find the end zone.
In 2017, Rice went 1-11. Subsequently, the team made a change at head coach, ousting the regime that had recruited Granson. As a result, Granson chose to transfer. He eventually chose the SMU Mustangs as his transfer destination. However, due to NCAA transfer rules, he had to sit out a season. For Granson, and for SMU, the wait was worth it.
Granson’s emergence at SMU
In 2019, Granson joined the SMU Mustangs as a redshirt junior, and immediately became a part of the offense. Given his size, the Mustangs chose to use him in a hybrid tight end role. The results were swift and fortuitous. In his first year, Granson logged 721 yards and nine touchdowns on 43 catches, breaking the school record for touchdowns in a season by a tight end.
The SMU tight end’s success in his first year yielded excitement for his redshirt senior season, and again, Granson reinforced his talent. Playing in ten games, Granson amassed 35 catches for 536 yards and five scores. For the first time in his career, he was given All-AAC first-team recognition. Granson capitalized on this forward momentum, declaring for the 2021 NFL Draft and accepting an invite to the Senior Bowl.
Analyzing Kylen Granson’s NFL Draft profile
Right away, it’s clear that Kylen Granson isn’t just a tight end. As a receiver, he can line up just about everywhere — in the slot, in stacks on the boundary, in-line, and out of the backfield. And as a blocker, he can line up both in-line and as a full back. The Mustangs used Granson in a variety of ways, and he showed the ability to produce from a number of different spots.
Granson’s athleticism helps contribute to his multifaceted upside. In the receiving game, Granson has the straight-line explosiveness off the snap to get into space with ease. He also shows flashes of twitch and quickness as a route runner. His twitch is most apparent when he doesn’t have forward momentum counter-acting it. At the snap, he can get leverage with a quick double-move, and he has the short-area burst to gain early separation.
Down the field, Granson has enough speed to track well, and he also has good body control and ball tracking ability. Granson doesn’t let his below-average size as a tight end hurt him too often. At the catch point, he has exceptional focus, which helps him haul in difficult throws. On top of his receiving ability, Granson is also a solid blocker. His short-area burst and density allows him to be more than serviceable as a lead blocker.
What are the issues with Granson?
There’s an intriguing amount of upside with Granson. However, there are some concerns to note as well. Luckily, Granson is decent in a lot of areas, so the concerns aren’t as much about his floor as they are about his ceiling. Granson’s size is a limitation in certain situations. Larger, more athletic linebackers might present more of a challenge catching the football. More physical defensive backs also may pose a threat.
Expanding on his utility in the passing game, Granson can improve his consistency as a route runner. A lot of the right elements are there, but there are times when he rounds out his stems and fails to deceive coverage players. In those situations, Granson doesn’t have the elite athleticism or the size necessary to win on talent alone. The SMU tight end can also improve his consistency after the catch. His density gives him decent contact balance, but he can be susceptible to simple arm tackles.
Overall, Granson is a good athlete, a good receiver, and a decent blocker. His size also limits his ceiling as a blocker, but his performance on film was surprisingly solid. He only has decent strength, but he has the athleticism and urgency to get the job done. Granson’s projection to the NFL might be more complicated than other tight ends, but he has the talent to earn a regular role.
Kylen Granson’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
The 2021 tight end class does not disappoint. It’s an incredibly deep class with a variety of talented archetypes. Granson is just another unique player who’s been somewhat buried by the voluminous supply this offseason. The SMU tight end has a marketable floor and solid upside. Additionally, his versatility to be used in various alignments further compounds his appeal. At his pro day, he reaffirmed this versatility, with a 4.64 40-yard dash, a 36.5-inch vertical, and a 6.93 three-cone.
In the NFL, Granson’s size will likely limit his ability as a pure tight end, but he profiles well as a utility blocker out of the backfield. Additionally, he brings supplemental value as a receiving threat who can be utilized in a multitude of roles. He’s a fairly natural receiver in spite of his undeveloped areas. On Day 3, he should be an excellent value addition for teams. In my opinion, he’s worthy of consideration in Round 5. However, with his underwhelming size, he might be pushed back to Round 6 or Round 7.
Which teams might mesh with Granson’s skill set?
Given Granson’s versatility, his skills can translate fairly well to most NFL teams. Teams with a need for more rotational talent at tight end may have interest in the SMU tight end. However, a scheme that best accentuates his flexibility might be best, if he is to produce. Teams such as the Kansas City Chiefs, Chicago Bears, Washington Football Team, and Buffalo Bills could be good matches.
Regardless of where and when he goes, Kylen Granson is one of the more intriguing NFL Draft prospects this year. He likely won’t be selected until late, but he profiles as a potential high-value addition with plenty of possible avenues to success. And after flashing at the Senior Bowl, he’ll no doubt get a chance to convert.