In 1977 the Seattle Seahawks used their 2nd pick of the 11th round (281 overall) to draft an offensive tackle named Bill Westbeld. Since that day we have not seen another draft pick from the halls of the University of Dayton, Ohio. I wish I could tell you more about Bill Westbeld but it would appear after being drafted he never made it into an NFL game. In fact the last time we saw a player take to the field from Dayton was 1975. In that year OT Mike Wilson played for the Chiefs whilst his fellow Dayton alumni Bob DeMarco played as an OL for the Rams for the full season.
But all is not lost! The tides seem to have turned for Dayton and there is a lot of noise gathering surrounding their TE Adam Trautman. Trautman who is from Elk Rapids, Michigan arrived at Dayton initially as a quarterback from high school. He asked his offensive co-ordinator to move to the TE position in order to get in more reps and the rest appears to be history.
Adam Trautman is on the verge of making history as the first Dayton Flyer in 43 years to be drafted into the NFL. I would suggest however that the likelihood of Trautman making it onto the field is significantly higher. Coming in at 6’5 and weighing 255 pounds he is a great size for a tight end and is capable of creating a number of issues for defensive backs in coverage. During the 2019 season Trautman came up against triple coverage during the Dayton game against the Drake Bulldogs. The play resulted in Trautman making a leaping catch hauling the ball in on the Bulldogs 14 yard line. With a physical player such as Trautman, who has solid hands and an ability to create space, there is not much room for the defence to perform.
When I watch Trautman I can’t help but seeing a player who is very similar in size and build to four-time All Pro TE Rob Gronkowski. If I was Josh McDaniels and Bill Belichick I would be looking very closely at Trautman as a strong competitor for Gronkowski’s successor. There are no doubts that the absence of Gronk has left a massive gap in the Patriots offence. LaCosse, Izzo and Watson struggled to fill that gap between them last season. I think it is time to look for a solution elsewhere.
I’ve spent quite a bit of time watching the limited tape that is available of Trautman and it’s hard not to get excited when you watch him play. Over his college football career Trautman racked up 2,295 receiving yards and 31 TDs. In the 2019 season he averaged 83 yards per game and led in receiving yards throughout his senior year. I’ve already mentioned it but he has such a natural ability to create separation from defenders and generate speed. It’s this ability that I think will lead to him being drafted highly.
Trautman ran a 6.78 on the 3 cone drill during the combine which would have placed him second amongst WR’s. During a press conference at the 2020 Combine, Trautman told the media “I have a relentless style of play… every level I’ve played at I’ve been told I wasn’t good enough… I carry that with me.” Sound like a familiar mantra? It would appear Trautman has already subconsciously slipped into the ‘Patriot Way’ of thinking.
Headed into the 2020 draft with 12 picks, maybe it’s a bit high, but I’d like to see Trautman coming to NE somewhere around Round 3, Pick No.100 or Round 4, Pick No. 125. Maybe I’m getting too excited about him but that seems reasonable to me (correct me if you think I’m wrong!).
All being well, David Andrews is looking hopeful to return this season, coupled with James Develin likely coming back from injured reserve. I could see Trautman slotting right in as a run blocker to see New England bring back its run heavy offence that lead them to SBLIII.
Trautman will have to put some time into developing as a blocker, as most draft profiles note him as being very raw in regards to his technique with hand placement and stance. This doesn’t cause me significant concern as I believe he has the ability to develop to the next level under the right coaching. The ability to block within a TE is a bonus rather than a given, his sheer size and physical ability will go a long way in helping him.
I also think Ryan Izzo has a lot more to offer this season and could see a lot of productivity alongside Trautman in a 22 personnel. It creates some cushion for Stidham to settle into the starting position knowing there is a power running attack at his disposal. The Patriots have a history of using 22 personnel, particularly back in the days of Gronkowski and Hernandez. I love 22 personnel because it is so effective against the blitz. A two tight-end formation allows the opportunity to split defences into positions where linebackers aren’t fast enough to cover them and defensive backs aren’t big enough. I could imagine this being used really effectively with Trautman being split out as a wide receiver to compete in coverage. It was a go to on big downs for Gronkowski and I think we could see it coming back if Trautman gets drafted by the Patriots.