Rookie Report Card: Adam Trautman, Austin Mack and Jake Luton

Dan Meylor

Each week throughout the season, I’ll cover at least two rookies in the Rookie Report Card and try to always include the biggest performers from that particular week. On top of reviewing my expectations for each player coming into the league and how well he’s lived up to those expectations at the NFL level to this point, I’ll grade the player in three categories. Those categories are performance to date, rookie season potential and long term upside.

The series continues with a look at three rookies, Adam Trautman, Austin Mack and Jake Luton.

Adam Trautman, TE NO

Week Nine Stats: Three receptions, 39 yards, one touchdown (three targets)

One of the most productive college tight end prospects over the last handful of seasons, Adam Trautman entered the draft process as an ideal dynasty rookie draft target according to many. Big (6’-5”, 255 pounds) and athletic, he profiled as a seam stretcher in the middle of the field and a solid red-zone threat.

In his final season at Dayton, Trautman hauled in 70 passes for 916 yards and 14 touchdowns. He dominated a lower level of competition, showing a knack for gaining separation in his route running, excellent leaping ability and body control to reel in off-target throws and the concentration to make catches in heavy traffic.

While there were some who questioned whether Trautman’s strengths would translate to the NFL and wondered if his average 40-yard dash at the combine (4.80 seconds) was an indicator of a solid player that looked really good at a small school, many of us saw his time in college as the tip of the iceberg when it comes to his upside.

Being selected by New Orleans in the third round as the third tight end taken in the draft was an ideal landing spot for Trautman. While some would say having Jared Cook cemented ahead of him on the depth chart was a negative, the truth is Trautman is still a relatively raw prospect that needs to hone his craft and learning under Cook – another athletic field stretcher – and playing in Sean Payton’s offense which is known for using tight ends regularly is a perfect place for the developmental playmaker at the position.

On Sunday night, Trautman had his best game as a rookie, catching three passes for 39 yards and a touchdown. While none of the catches he made showed the athleticism and high-pointing ability that made him a great late-round target in dynasty rookie drafts, it was nice to see him incorporated into the offense which could be a sign of things to come.

Although he shouldn’t be in anybody’s starting lineups just yet, Trautman should be seen as a long-term tight end prospect with the upside to be a mid-TE1. I see him as a similar player to Dallas Goedert when he was halfway through his rookie season. He’s a small school tight end prospect in a good offense who simply needs to gradually improve before getting a full-time role to become very fantasy relevant.

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Austin Mack, WR NYG

Week Nine Stats: Four receptions, 72 yards (five target)

As a fan of Big Ten football I remember Austin Mack from his days with Ohio State and to be honest, there wasn’t anything I ever saw from him in his time with the Buckeyes that made me think I’d ever be writing a Rookie Report Card about him but here we are.

Consistently overshadowed by more talented receivers like Parris Campbell, KJ Hill and Chris Olave, he never caught more than 27 passes in a season despite arriving at Ohio State as a highly-touted prospect with good size (6’-1”, 208 pounds) and a reputation as a good route runner with the ability to make difficult catches.

Mack was undrafted but signed with the Giants as a free agent and made the team but wasn’t active for the team’s first five games and wasn’t part of New York’s offensive game plan until week nine against Washington. Catching four balls on Sunday, Mack got his opportunity on offense because Golden Tate was suspended and he made the most of it.

A majority of Mack’s production came on an out-and-up route early in the game where he got behind a blown coverage for a 50-yard play down the right sideline. Outside of that play, he hauled in three more passes for 22 yards on underneath routes.

While Mack wouldn’t be the first undrafted receiver who disappointed in college only to make an impact on Sundays, it’s very unlikely he carves out a regular role in any offense. With Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram and Tate all ahead of him for targets, both his short and long-term upside for dynasty is limited. While he’s being added in deep dynasty leagues this week, it’s doubtful he ever cracks even the worst dynasty team’s starting lineup.

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Jake Luton, QB JAC

Week Nine Stats: 26/38 passing, 304 yards, one touchdown, one interceptions, one carry, 13 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown

Jake Luton was an unknown to many dynasty players before last week when he was named as the starting quarterback for the Jaguars but despite being a sixth-round NFL draft pick, he had a very solid college career at Oregon State.

Known for his conservative decision making at Oregon State, Luton threw just three interceptions in 358 attempts as a senior but averaged only 7.6 yards per attempt and completed just 36% of his passes under pressure.

Since there wasn’t a preseason and information out of training camps was limited due to COVID-19, the dynasty community was slow to learn about Luton’s upside. Although there were subtle indications that the team liked him such as Mike Glennon’s release and whispers from the Jags’ coaching staff that Luton looked good in training camp, it wasn’t until it was announced that Gardner Minshew wasn’t available for week nine that most dynasty managers in deep superflex formats began adding Luton. For their efforts, those managers had to be thrilled with what Luton displayed in his first start against the Texans Sunday.

Completing 68% of his passes for 304 yards and a touchdown while adding a rushing score, Luton finished as a top-15 quarterback in most scoring formats in week nine. Confident in the pocket, he delivered the ball on time and despite his conservative reputation pushed the ball down the field multiple times to DJ Chark and feathered in passes between linebackers and safeties to Tyler Eifert.

Overall, Luton couldn’t have been more impressive in his debut. Despite that, however, it should be noted that the Texans defense is one of the worst in the league and he’ll go to Green Bay and take on Pittsburgh at home in the next couple weeks and both defenses are top-ten against fantasy quarterbacks so expecting even QB2 numbers in the short term is probably asking too much.

Furthermore, as a long-term prospect, Luton is a long shot as well. With the Jaguars currently 1-7 at the halfway point of the season, they are on pace to earn the second overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft which is expected to be flush with quarterback talent. Even if Luton helps the team win games in the second half of the year, it’s unlikely they could pass on a potential franchise signal-caller in the top-five next April.

At this point, it’s advisable for dynasty managers in super-flex and 2QB leagues who added Luton to trade him for as much as they can possibly get. While he may have some bright spots in the next couple of months, his long-term upside is no doubt capped. Getting anything of use in return for the short-term starter in Jacksonville should be seen as a win.

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dan meylor