Watch: Detroit Lions tight end James Mitchell’s college highlights

Football has changed a lot over the years. Like, a whole lot. It was not long ago — think early 2000s— that in order to be a good NFL team, you likely had a featured running back that you gave the ball to 25+ times per game. You likely had a big, bruising, inline tight end (looking at you, Dan Campbell) on your roster, who was almost always more of a blocker than a pass catcher. It was close to the “four yards and a cloud of dust” brand of football that our parents watched for years.

Now, with defenses utilizing lighter boxes and coaches opting for speed and skill over size, things have changed in a hurry. Having one functional tight end isn’t going to cut it anymore. Especially if you’re a team like the Detroit Lions, who use a lot of personnel packages that feature multiple tight ends on the field at once.

Tight ends these days need to be able to do it all. They need to be able to block in the run game, protect the passer when asked, split out wide or in the slot as a receiver, and everything in between. There is a reason there is such a learning curve associated with young tight ends entering the NFL.

Take it from current Lions’ tight end TJ Hockenson, who has had his share of bumps and bruises during his time as a professional. And when he was lost to a hand injury late in 2021, it left the Lions shorthanded on offense.

General manager Brad Holmes surely took note of this, using pick 177 on tight end James Mitchell out of Virginia Tech to add depth to the room.

Let’s take a look at some of Mitchell’s highlights from his time in Blacksburg by starting off with a video the Lions put together.

Compilations / Highlights

Quick Clips / Breakdowns

Interviews

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