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Film Room: Kylen Granson brings a new dynamic to the tight end room

Granson’s potential in this offense is huge

NCAA Football: Tulane at Southern Methodist Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts waited until the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft to finally address the offense, as they selected tight end Kylen Granson out of SMU. Granson was one of the more productive tight ends in this draft class, totaling 78 catches for 1,257 yards and 14 touchdowns receiving over his final two collegiate seasons. The undersized tight end followed up his career with an impressive offseason, where he showcased his talent at the Senior Bowl and put up very good numbers at his Pro Day.

In today’s film room, we will look at the many facets of Granson’s game and talk about why he is a perfect fit for Frank Reich’s offense.

Kylen Granson vs Tulsa (2020)

Stats: 2 receptions for 24 yards and a touchdown

Analysis: While this wasn’t a statistically dominant game for Granson by any means, he does flash his ability as a receiver on his touchdown reception. He gets great depth on the play and pulls away from the defender for the easy touchdown reception. He had another opportunity for a big play on a stacked formation rub route that was simply missed by the quarterback. On another note, I did notice that his blocking was not very good, to say the least. This isn’t a major concern considering he will be the “Y tight end” that splits out as a receiver but this is an area that he needs to improve in.

Kylen Granson vs ECU (2019)

Stats: 7 receptions for 138 yards and 3 touchdowns

Analysis: This was the game that sold me on Granson in the pre-draft process and why he was my TE6 in this class. Absolutely dominant performance where he showcased everything you hope to see out of a move tight end. He wins at all three levels of the field in this game and showcases the ability to catch in traffic and create after the catch. What stood out the most to me is how polished he is as a route runner. He knows how to separate using his body (stair-step technique is great in these clips), his hands, and his feet. He is a complete route runner for a player his size which is huge for the role he is going to play in this offense.

Kylen Granson vs Memphis (2019)

Stats: 4 receptions for 77 yards and 2 touchdowns

Analysis: Another strong game from Granson in this one and one that showcases how hard it is to grade college pass-catchers off of raw stats. The run after catch ability is evident on the first touchdown as the play-call is a designed leak-out screen to a tight end. How many tight ends would get a designed call like this in the red zone? After that, his raw stats are hurt by the fact that his quarterback missed him on two vertical shots. An NFL-level quarterback hits both of those throws with ease. He finishes this one up with an outstanding catch down the sideline in traffic for another touchdown.

Kylen Granson vs Houston (2019)

Stats: 6 receptions for 76 yards and 1 touchdown

Analysis: I loved watching this game for Granson because the first two clips showcased two very common Colts’ play designs. The first one is a play-action leak out from the sniffer tight end position, which is a position the Colts use quite a bit and a nice easy completion the Colts like to draw up. The second one is a go-to red zone play in the speed out. Granson doesn’t score on the play but he makes a nice catch in traffic and nearly gets in. The other play to highlight is his run after catch ability in the third and fourth clips. He runs over a safety and creates extra yardage, something that the Colts’ tight ends simply haven’t done under Reich up to this point.

Kylen Granson vs Temple (2019)

Stats: 3 receptions for 50 yards and 1 touchdown

Analysis: Fairly quiet game in the box score for Granson in this one but I did want to highlight the first two clips in this one. The first clip is a really good one as he finds the soft spot in the zone on the intermediate hook route. He then showcases that run after catch ability and gets upfield for an extra 5-6 yards on the play. The other clip is one where he is blocking and clears the edge in the run game. I still think he needs a lot of work in run blocking but this was the best game I saw from him in this regard.

Kylen Granson vs FAU, Texas State, and Navy (2019)

Stats: 9 receptions for 181 yards and 1 touchdown

Analysis: I mixed a couple of games together for this final clip because they all showcased a similar aspect of his game. SMU did a great job over the past two seasons at freeing up Granson down the field on leak-outs and such. While it’s hard to write that off as a positive in his game, it does showcase what he can do when schemed open. Frank Reich is a great offensive mind who understands how to scheme open his play-makers and this ability should pair really well with Granson’s game.

Final Thoughts

Kylen Granson was one of my favorite picks by the Colts in the 2021 NFL Draft. While he is far from a complete player, he fits a niche role that the Colts needed perfectly and his skillset should mesh well with Frank Reich and this offense.

Granson is a skilled receiving tight end who understands the intricacies of route running. He excels at using his body to create separation and is a play-maker after the catch. He showcased strong hands in traffic in college as well and that should translate well to the NFL. In a niche role as a move tight end, he should have a productive and efficient rookie year.

He fell to the fourth round partly due to his size, which is certainly below average for the position. He did have a few concentration drops on film as well and could stand to give more effort and energy as a blocker. Outside of size, these are fairly easy fixes that the coaches can iron out.

Overall, I am a big fan of the player and the fit for this Colts’ team. Granson may take a bit to fully acclimate to the NFL game (most rookie tight ends are unproductive) but I envision a long and fairly successful career for him in this offense.