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Tommy Tremble has the potential to be the NFL’s next superstar tight end

The Panthers drafted Tommy Tremble in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft, and he has the chance to be one of the draft’s biggest steals.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 05 Bowling Green at Notre Dame Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Panthers drafted Notre Dame tight end Tommy Tremble with the No. 83 pick (third round) in the 2021 NFL Draft, and upon his selection the first name that popped up in most fans’ minds was 49ers tight end George Kittle.

The two players have eerily similar profiles in that they both came out of college lacking production, but were known for being solid blockers. I’ve gathered both players’ college stats in the table below, and as you can see they were limited in their opportunities and production in college.

Tommy Tremble vs George Kittle: College stats

Player Games Rec Yards Avg TD
Player Games Rec Yards Avg TD
George Kittle 19 42 604 14.4 10
Tommy Tremble 19 35 401 11.5 4

Note: I left out Kittle’s first two years where he only appeared in six games and caught 6 passes for 133 yards with 0 touchdowns. Doing this also allows us to compare what each player did in the 19 games where they saw the most playing time.

Based on the chart above it appears that both guys are capable of making plays at tight end if they’re given the chance to do so, and in Kittle’s case (264 receptions, 3,479 yards and 14 touchdowns in his first four years) that appears to be true.

Both guys are also solid athletes and have a similar Relative Athletic Score (RAS), as you can see in the table below.

Tommy Tremble vs George Kittle: Athletic profiles

Player All-time RAS Height Weight Arm Hand 40-yd Bench Broad jump Vertical
Player All-time RAS Height Weight Arm Hand 40-yd Bench Broad jump Vertical
George Kittle 9.57 6-4 250 33.125 9.25 4.52 18 132 35.0
Tommy Tremble 8.91 6-3 233 31.875 9.25 4.60 20 122 36.5

Numbers are great, but numbers aren’t the only way to see how these two players stack up against each other. Let’s see what scouts think about the strengths and weaknesses of each player.

Tommy Tremble (by Lance Zierlein):

Strengths

-Feisty play demeanor suits his love of contact.
-Activated as blocker from a variety of formations.
-Uses athletic talent to gain positioning after initial strike.
-Accelerates and crashes into targets as lead blocker.
-Smooth block-to-block transition to open the edge for outside run.
-Blocking talent opens up play-action opportunities.
-Athletic ability and speed stand out as pass catcher.
-Bursts off the snap and races into route.
-Basketball movement for easy route adjustments in traffic.
-Can separate on second- and third-level routes.
-Vast improvement from 2019 with contested catches.
-Talent and athleticism for some pass protection asks.

Weaknesses

-Just 35 career catches for 401 yards.
-Gives away short routes with altered initial speed.
-Needs quicker sink and open versus short zone.
-Double catches and drops are a concern.
-Had more drops than touchdowns at Notre Dame.
-Still learning to fit up block with proper platform and pad level.
-Needs quiet, efficient hands at the point of attack.

George Kittle (by Lance Zierlein):

Strengths

-Has broad shoulders and waist with a durable frame.
-Plays in pro-style attack and approaches blocking like an offensive lineman.
-Comes off the ball with good pad level and strikes with leverage and hands inside opponent’s frame.
-Blocks with good technique and has footwork to get to reach blocks and combos.
-Hands are confident and sure with just one drop against 48 catches.
-Able to make sudden body adjustments to poorly thrown balls.
-Flashes vertical speed to become a seam worker.
-Physical runner after the catch with more wiggle than you would expect.

Weaknesses

-Patterns are inconsistent and he rarely tilts defenders at the top of his routes.
-Could generate better separation with improved route leverage.
-Route breaks can be too easy to decipher.
-Plays fast but seems to be missing separation burst coming out of his breaks.
-Needs to work back to the ball harder in space.
-Allows defenders a pathway to the throw rather than sealing them out of the passing lane.
-Has tendency to keep weight too far forward as run blocker creating opportunity for defender to pull him off-balance.

And to hammer the point home that Tremble has the potential to be the next George Kittle, why don’t we throw in a video too, just for the fun of it?

As you can see, there are a lot of similar traits between these two players. It doesn’t mean that Tommy Tremble is absolutely going to be George Kittle 2.0, but he has similar athletic traits — and lack of college production that made him fall in the draft — that Kittle had when he was drafted in 2017.

Kittle was able to transition to one of the most dynamic weapons at the tight end position when he jumped to the NFL, and the potential is there for Tremble to do the same thing if he can capitalize on the opportunities he receives in Carolina. The Panthers managed to grab Tremble in the third round (two rounds higher than Kittle was drafted), and he could end up being one of the steals of this year’s draft class if he’s given an opportunity to shine.