Adam Trautman Can Make an Immediate Impact for New Orleans Saints

Adam Trautman

After the New Orleans Saints signed two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders in free agency, it was unclear if the organization would prioritize adding more offensive weapons in the 2020 NFL Draft. Then on day two, New Orleans traded all four of their day three picks to select tight end Adam Trautman in the third round.

While the Saints already have a good tight end group in Jared Cook and Josh Hill, there are plenty of ways Trautman can boost their passing game in 2020.

Adam Trautman Can Make an Impact for the New Orleans Saints in 2020

Adam Trautman Overview

Even though New Orleans gave up a lot of draft capital to select Trautman, he was a steal in the third round. He was perhaps the closest thing to a complete tight end in the 2020 Draft, projected by many analysts to be selected in the second round. Trautman faces a tough transition from Dayton University, a non-FBS school to the NFL. However, his college game tape illustrates why his ceiling is so high.

While Trautman is perhaps best suited as a traditional Y, in-line tight end, he played quite a versatile role for Dayton. Trautman spent a significant amount of time at h-back and split out wide. This experience is a great fit for the Saints offense, which frequently moves its weapons around to create mismatches and confuse defenses.

H-back Example

In the clip below, Dayton uses the art of deception to get Trautman open downfield, and the tight end plays his part beautifully.

Trautman comes across the formation and comes to a stop at the right h-back spot, giving the impression that he’s providing pass protection. Once the ball is snapped though, Trautman goes full speed on a wheel-route. The zone linebacker picks up Trautman’s route, but he’s not ready for that particular route, or the tight end’s downhill speed. Trautman is able to get a step on the linebacker for a long completion downfield.

New Orleans is no stranger to this type of play call. Below, Taysom Hill has just motioned to an off-the-line spot on the left side of the formation. He runs more of a fade than a wheel route, but it’s not hard to envision Trautman being used in a similar fashion.

Split Out Wide

Trautman’s combination of acceleration and size (6’5″, 255 pounds) can be a difficult matchup for cornerbacks. In the next clip, Trautman runs a fade route with a cornerback on him in coverage. The defender recognizes the route and manages to disrupt it, but it isn’t enough. Trautman keeps pressing forward, leaps and snags the pass above the cornerback’s head.

In 2019, the Saints red zone touchdown rate of 59.3 percent ranked 13th in the NFL. Plays like this could help New Orleans boost that percentage in 2020.

Deep Threat Potential/Route Running

Many NFL receiving tight ends aren’t necessarily known for their deep route-running ability. Trautman was able to make several big catches down the field in college and has a chance to become one of the best downfield targets at the position on the NFL level.

There’s a lot to appreciate about what Trautman does here on a corner-post route. First, Trautman avoids a chip from the defensive end while ensuring he gets the outside release he needs. From there, Trautman turns on the jets and gets a step on the linebacker. As he makes his initial cut outside, he sells the break by pointing his head in the same direction. Trautman also doesn’t lose any speed as he completes his first break and cuts back inside. It’s difficult for many wide receivers to run this route so fluidly, much less a tight end.

By the time the ball is thrown to Trautman, he’s gained a few yards of separation from the linebacker and is able to box out the safety. He then drags the two defenders into the end zone after the catch.

Value of Multiple Receiving Tight Ends

There will be plenty of speculation in the coming months over how much playing time Trautman could see with Cook ahead of him on the depth chart. However, making frequent use of two receiving tight ends is not uncommon in the NFL today. In fact, some of the most successful teams are able to get good production out of multiple tight ends.

The Baltimore Ravens are perhaps the best example of this. While Ravens tight end Mark Andrews led the team with 64 receptions, they also got a combined 61 receptions out of tight ends Nick Boyle and Hayden Hurst. You can partially attribute this target distribution to a lack of wide receiver talent on the Ravens roster, but there’s actually a huge advantage gained from having multiple productive tight ends.

When an offense lines up in two or three tight end formations, defenses tend to anticipate a run play. If a team can put two or more tight ends on the field that can block and excel in the passing game, these formations become much more difficult to predict and defend.

Success Rates From Multiple Tight End Formations

The Ravens led the NFL with a 69 percent success rate on passes to tight ends from 12 personnel (one running back, two tight ends, two receivers) per Sharp Football Stats. New Orleans managed an above-average 56 percent success rate, but only attempted 25 such passes compared to the Ravens 42. The Philadelphia Eagles attempted a whopping 126 passes to tight ends from 12 personnel and were still successful on a fourth-ranked 61 percent of these plays.

New Orleans tied Baltimore with a league-leading 64 percent success rate on runs from 12 personnel and ranked second with a 60 percent success rate on passes from 12 personnel. Now they have a chance to have even more success from these formations with Trautman in the mix.

The Ravens also excelled when passing to tight ends from 13 personnel, finishing 2019 with a 70 percent success rate on 23 such plays. New Orleans threw just two passes to tight ends from 13 personnel, likely due to only having Cook as a reliable target at the position. The numbers are similar from 22 personnel, just two passes to tight ends compared to the Ravens 20.

If Trautman’s abilities can translate at the NFL level, he can further expand a deep Saints playbook.

Further Thoughts on Adam Trautman

New Orleans has tried but struggled to find a suitable second receiving tight end. They spent a couple of years developing Dan Arnold, an undrafted former wide receiver. Arnold had some positive moments but he is best known for dropping a touchdown pass in the 2018 NFC Championship Game.

The Saints then drafted Alize Mack in the seventh round of last year’s draft. Mack had a good combine and was widely expected to win the third tight end job. Unfortunately, he missed most of training camp with an injury and was unable to make the final roster. As a result of these misses, Taysom Hill became the closest thing the Saints have had to a second receiving tight end last year.

At a glance, Trautman appears to be a far more complete player at tight end than Arnold or Mack. The challenge for him will be adjusting to the competition level increase from FCS football to the NFL as well as assimilating into one of the NFL’s most sophisticated offensive systems. Fortunately, Trautman seems to have already spent some time studying the Saints offense and he is a self-proclaimed “football junkie.” This characteristic should serve him well going forward.

It would come as a surprise if Adam Trautman doesn’t make a significant impact in 2020 and he has all the necessary traits to become a starter someday.

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