It’s safe to say that Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay loves his tight ends. He had an arsenal of tight ends last season that didn’t exactly pan out. There are quite a few intriguing tight end prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft, such as Notre Dame’s Durham Smythe:
If teams are looking for a pure blocking tight end, Smythe may be the answer. Smythe operates more like an offensive linemen and takes pride in driving defenders backward. Blocking is all about timing, and Smythe times his blocks perfectly. He’s also never stops until he reaches his designated target. Smythe does well in run blocking, but he’s most efficient in the passing game. His hand placement is good enough to latch on and adjust with speedier defenders.
Smythe has a ton of potential as a pass-catching tight end, despite being utilized mostly as a blocker. His 6’5” frame is too valuable not to use, and the Fighting Irish increased his role this past season. He possesses decent hands and is fearless running routes in the middle of the field. Last season, he finished with 244 receiving yards on 15 catches with a touchdown.
Most of the knocks against Smythe are found in his role as a pass-catching tight end. His speed is average at best, and his routes are atrocious and predictable. Smythe’s straight-line motions are going to be his downfall at the next leve,l because defensive backs and even linebackers will be waiting for the pick. Because of all of this, he will struggle to create separation on the next level.
On paper, Smythe seems like a stud. His height may tempt some teams to thinking they can coach him to become a pass-catching tight end. He will likely become a pure blocking tight end, which many teams need as well. Using Smythe occasionally as a pass-catcher wouldn’t be a bad idea either, but it all boils down to what offensive scheme he plays in. I expect Smythe to fall to the fifth round.
The Rams have been searching for a cohesive tight end corps for a while. McVay attempted to use Derek Carrier as the designated blocking TE, with mixed mixed results. Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett haven’t exactly stepped up either. Smythe would fit into the system nicely, and if used properly in McVay’s offense, the Rams could unearth a gem if drafted. If nothing else, he could be a solid blocker and well worth a late round draft pick.