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TE James Mitchell, DET (1 Viewer)


Rookie TE James Mitchell ready to step up for Detroit Lions
ALLEN PARK -- You’re up, James Mitchell.

The Detroit Lions have a void to fill after the T.J. Hockenson trade, and while Brock Wright is expected to step into the starting role, no one’s playing time is expected to spike more than the rookie fifth-round pick. Mitchell hasn’t played more than six snaps in a game, and just 21 for the season.

Now he’s TE2, and ready for the challenge.

“I do feel ready,” he said in front of his locker after practice on Wednesday. “I think they’ve done a good job preparing me. I haven’t got over six snaps in a game, but I’ve been repping a lot in practice and just building that trust and that confidence in myself. I’m ready.”
Mitchell was a three-year starter at Virginia Tech who averaged 18.0 yards per catch for his career, and once looked like he might become one the top pass-catching tight ends in his draft class. But he blew out his ACL in the second game of his final season with the Hokies, which sent his stock tumbling. He finished his career with 52 catches for 938 yards and seven touchdowns.

But this regime has shown it’s not scared of gambling on high-upside players with injuries, and selected Mitchell with the 177th pick in the draft.

“His upside is tremendous,” assistant general manager Ray Agnew said. “What stood out about him is the route running and the ability to catch the ball in college. And he was a much better blocker than you’d think in college. Lot of college guys are not great blockers, but he was pretty good, and before the injury, he was playing really well. So the upside was what stood out to me, the ability to catch the ball and run after the catch also.”

Mitchell did not participate in the Lions’ offseason program, but returned in time to participate in training camp. He was brought along slowly, and did not even dress for the first three weeks of the season. But as the knee improved, so has his work in practice. He’s played in each of the last four games, just made his first catch last week against Miami -- and now his playing time is about to explode after Hockenson was dealt to Minnesota.

“I feel really good,” Mitchell said. “Obviously, like you said, physically, they were taking their time with me. I didn’t play, or I didn’t dress, our the first three games. But I think after that, after that fourth week, I really started to see a change in my body physically, with the knee. I felt better, I felt fresher, felt more explosive. And then mentally during that time, I was doing my best to not fall behind, even though I wasn’t playing, just, you know, stay locked in, still say ahead on the offense even though I wasn’t out there on the field.”

The Athletic's Colton Pouncy writes that the Lions will "get a good look" at TE James Mitchell with T.J. Hockenson gone.​

Brock Wright, Detroit's other main tight end on the roster, was concussed last week, while the rookie fifth-rounder was only recently brought back after tearing his ACL at Virginia Tech last fall. Mitchell caught his first pass last week and could get some more looks in Week 9, though Amon-Ra St. Brown figures to be the early beneficiary of the Hockenson trade.
SOURCE: The Athletic
Nov 1, 2022, 5:11 PM ET

Lions selected Virginia Tech TE James Mitchell with the No. 177 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.​

Mitchell (6'4/249) broke out as a junior with a 26-435-4 receiving line that was good for 24% of Virginia Tech's receiving yards and 40% of their receiving touchdowns. He remained a focal point in 2021 before tearing his ACL just two games into the season. Mithcell was impressively efficient as a receiver with a career 2.01 yards per route run, and in his breakout 2020, he was used to stretch the seam with an 11.5 aDOT. Mitchell's lack of athletic testing makes his receiving profile difficult to project to the NFL level, but he has upside to operate as a productive move-TE when fully healthy. He could take a full redshirt year behind T.J. Hockenson in 2022 but should allow the Lions to use more 2TE sets once back to full speed.
Apr 30, 2022, 3:37 PM ET
Colton Pouncy

Campbell on rookie TE James Mitchell getting more snaps without T.J. Hockenson: "We think he's gonna be ready for that."

12:10 PM · Nov 2, 2022·Twitter Web App

Dude is strictly a stash if you have the room, monitor if you don't at this point. But pay attention to not only snaps but, more importantly, alignment (slot, boundary). Too early to say he'll get those high value opportunities. If he does, then it gets interesting. 10 game tryout.
I'm planting my flag on him and would highly recommend putting him on your dynasty rosters ASAP if you need or put any value in the TE spot.

I had mentioned in the Hockenson thread and this situation was giving me the same vibes I got for James Robinson when Fournette was released and I'll explain what I'm talking about.

Before Fournette was cut they put him on the block, got no offers and just cut him. When they did they said it was purely a football decision and most people, me included, thought that was BS. I know I was thinking that Lenny was being disruptive in some way. Well I started to gather some info that made me think the Jags might actually be telling the truth that it was a football decision. When Lenny got cut I was seeing Armstead and Ozibago shoot up draft boards into the 9-14 round range while Robinson went undrafted. I got to thinking if the Jags were truly being forthright about it being a football decision that Armstead and Ozibago were on the team the previous year so it was doubtful they were the reason. By process of elimination that left me with James Robinson so I started drafting him in last few rounds of all my drafts. A few days later I came across a response from a Jags beat writer which say they liked Robinson a great deal and then I jumped up drafting him a few rounds higher.

So how does that relate to Mitchell?

Obviously were it's different is they got trade comp for Hockenson. There is also the matter of Hockenson's pay but they had him locked up through end of 2023 so I don't think that had a lot to do with it.

Yesterday I posted in the Hockenson thread that Campbell said he something along the lines of this trade made the team better in the future and present. That was dismissed as coach speak. Holmes later said the same thing so I guess that's now coach and GM speak to some. I don't think it's either because it's not the normal thing teams say. They normally will just say they appreciate what the player they traded provided, say it helps them for the future and will often say they things such as it has nothing to do with their record and they have players ready to step up. That's all normal coach speak. You don't often hear a team trade a player away, not get a player back and conclude they are now better in the present. That's highly unusual especially when the player is not a bad egg.

So getting back to Mitchell and his talent. Don't let the 5th round pedigree scare you off. I don't think any position has provided more mid to late fantasy and real life good players like TE, even more then RB. Secondly he was only a 5th because he tore his ACL and a few people I put a lot of stock in who used to work in the league felt he'd have been a third round pick if healthy. I don't know how good he is at blocking but he's a very talented receiver.

He'll have a learning curve of course as it's a difficult position to grasp but in my TE premium leagues people were spending $200+_ on LIkely last night and this is redraft. If Andrews was totally out of the picture I can't imaging what his value would be in dynasty leagues, especially TE premium. The Lions offense is not as TE friendly but I really think this is your chance to get the next LIkely type of player but one without one of the best TE's in the league locked up on the roster for the next few years and if you don't wait to long you can get in before his price jumps.
James Mitchell caught 2-of-2 targets for eight yards and a touchdown in the Lions' Week 9 win over the Packers.

The fifth-round rookie entered Week 9 with only one target all season. The bigger role was made possible by T.J. Hockenson's trade to Minnesota. Mitchell's score was a three-yarder where the defense simply lost track of him. Although it stands to reason Mitchell will see more work down the stretch as the Lions go into evaluation mode, it's hard to believe he will become a top-20 option at tight end.

Detroit TE snaps WK 9:
  • Brock Wright 47
  • Shane Zylstra 14
  • James Mitchell 11
The 3rd and 4th string TEs both scored short TDs (1 yard and 3 yards.) That said, the rookie Mitchell ran a nice crossing to get himself open. Clean release from the Edge and then the ILB at the second level, got leverage on the safety when he made his route cut.

nothing amazing but did a nice job here
This guy is off of everyone's radar, but is a good deep roster add if you want a TE with good upside. Mitchell and LaPorta could be !A and 1B at the TE position for the Lions.
LaPorta played early (16 snaps.) All the guys they’re already comfortable with had 18 or less snaps (i.e., Wright had 12.) Mitchell played 34 and looked good.

LaPorta played only 3 snaps at WR, hoping we might see him in the slot or on the boundary v Jax. Mitchell looks like he’s developing into a decent in-line but with limited upside IMO. Left him to pass pro on a few plays, and that’s probably his role.

Lions were middle of the pack (14th) running 12 personnel last year. I’m hoping LaPorta starts dominating the snaps and routes run with a healthy dose of alignment variety. Mitchell is a bit player in my view, needs an injury to be relevant.

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