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Adam Trautman

Good day for Saints sophomore

The Saints released Jared Cook and Josh Hill yesterday. Neither move was unexpected, but it firms up last year's third-rounder Adam Trautman as the team's top tight end at this early stage of the offseason. The only other players at the position on the roster are undrafted free agents Garrett Griffin (3 NFL catches in five seasons) and Ethan Wolf.

The Saints will be breaking in a new quarterback (most likely; Drew Brees hasn't officially retired for some reason), but you have to like Trautman's potential in the offense. He made the most of his 16 targets as a rookie (15 receptions and a touchdown), and that after putting up big numbers at Dayton: a starter his last three seasons and part of his first, leading the team with a 70-916-14 stat line as a senior, and catching 31 career touchdowns.

Year 2 looks like a good spot for a step forward from tight ends selected on Day 2 of the draft (rounds 2 and 3 nowadays). I'm setting aside first-rounders, from whom more is generally expected. Trautman is one of five tight ends selected in the second and third round a year ago, including Cole Kmet, a pair of Patriots (Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene) and Green Bay's Josiah Deguara (who at 6-f00t-2 and 242 pounds seems like more of an H-back). Kmet will probably get more attention in 2021 drafts, especially if the Bears part ways with Jimmy Graham, but Trautman looks similarly appealing.

Since 2010, there have been 41 other tight ends selected in the second and third rounds. Just four of those players (less than 10 percent) went for even 500 receiving yards as rookies, but about a third of them (13) exceeded that total in their second seasons. Two more caught at least 5 touchdowns. Pretty decent careers for most of those guys, as well. Decent chance for a second-year leap from a couple of these guys, with Trautman and Kmet looking the most promising. Table sorted by Year 2 receiving yards.

2ND-YEAR TIGHT ENDS (2ND/3RD-ROUND PICKS), 2010-PRESENT
DraftRdPkPlayerNoYdsTD
2020243Cole Kmet???
2020391Devin Asiasi???
2020394Josiah Deguara???
20203101Dalton Keene???
20203105Adam Trautman???
2010242Rob Gronkowski90132717
2010395Jimmy Graham99131011
2013363Travis Kelce678625
2018386Mark Andrews6485210
2013235Zach Ertz587023
2012234Coby Fleener526084
2018249Dallas Goedert586075
2016235Hunter Henry 455794
2018242Mike Gesicki515705
2010370Ed Dickson545285
2016381Austin Hooper 495263
2011247Lance Kendricks425194
2014398Richard Rodgers585108
2011243Kyle Rudolph534939
2013385Jordan Reed504650
2018398Jordan Akins364182
2011369Rob Housler454170
2014399Crockett Gillmore334124
2019250Irv Smith Jr.303655
2015368Clive Walford333593
2019252Drew Sample403491
2014238Austin Seferian-Jenkins213384
2017244Gerald Everett333203
2019396Dawson Knox242883
20173100Jonnu Smith202583
2014365C.J. Fiedorowicz171671
2015392Jeff Heuerman91410
2016394Nick Vannett 121241
2019375Jace Sternberger121141
2013247Gavin Escobar91054
2015385Tyler Kroft10920
2012378Michael Egnew7690
2017245Adam Shaheen5481
2019386Kahale Warring3350
2014252Troy Niklas4332
2013255Vance McDonald2300
2012364Dwayne Allen1201
2010393Tony Moeaki000
2014249Jace Amaro000
2015255Maxx Williams000
2019369Josh Oliver000

As for the departing Saints, Cook turns 34 next month. He'll find a job, if he's so inclined, but probably won't be brought in anywhere as a certain starter. The Seahawks love to block young player development by signing old tight ends, so maybe that will happen. Hill is 31 and was never featured in New Orleans; maybe he gets a roster spot somewhere. Maybe not.

--Andy Richardson

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