When it comes to the tight end position in 2019, the Los Angeles Rams know who they’re top two guys are – Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee. However, it’s behind them that raises questions. The Rams signed three undrafted free agents this past offseason, hoping one can step up and turn into the teams third tight end or at the very least a developmental prospect for when Tyler Higbee’s contract ends at the end of the season.
One of those tight ends that the Rams signed was Missouri’s, Kendall Blanton. Will he defeat the odds and make the team’s final roster?
Blanton was a former basketball player in high school where he also became one of the nation’s top tight end prospects. After red-shirting in 2014 in his first season in Columbia, Missouri, Blaton primarily played on special teams.
Slowly, he became more integrated into the Tiger offense. He averaged 10.1 yards per catch as a red-shirt sophomore, scoring twice in two starts and then recorded six catches for 138 yards the following season. A sprained knee slowed him down in his final year with the Tigers, but he still managed a career-high 22 catches for 177 yards.
Blanton has the prototypical size of a tight end with high potential at 6’6; however, very rarely does he use that size to his advantage. He is your typical, “looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane” situations. With the ability to line in-line or as a full back and block, he isn’t a great blocker, and he tends to get pushed around as a receiver.
If he can utilize his physical traits and become a threat on offense, his experience on special teams will give him a huge advantage in making the final roster.
With the assumption that the Rams will keep Everett and Higbee on the final roster with Johnny Mundt as a third possibility, that leaves Blanton, Romello Booker, and Keenan Brown to battle for the potential fourth and final spot.
Blanton doesn’t bring the receiving threat that Brown does, and while he has the size, he’s not the pass-catcher or the blocker that Booker is. Blanton may be the third guy in this conversation before camp, but he’ll have plenty of opportunities to work his way up.
Three Plays on Tape
This catch by Kendall Blanton… ? pic.twitter.com/O09xLMyU0y
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) December 31, 2018
This is another excellent grab by Blanton and goes to show just how much of a receiving threat in the red zone that he can be. The safety smothers the Mizzou tight end but still manages to make the catch.
Good play in coverage here from @UCLAFootball S Adarius Pickett. Took on the much bigger TE Kendall Blanton: pic.twitter.com/zGx37MwGj2
— The Draft Network (@DraftNetworkLLC) January 15, 2019
This play during senior bowl practices displays precisely the weaknesses as discussed above. When a player has the size of Blanton, this is a catch that has to be made. It’s a good play by Adarius Pickett, but Blanton has the size and strength and needs to make this play.
Day 3, athletic, raw TEs with a high ceiling? Missouri TE Kendall Blanton will give you that. He’s a natural athlete and receiver who could stand to work on his blocking, but the flashes are wow. I think he can really prove to be the “diamond” of this TE class. #DraftTwitter pic.twitter.com/QYEwu3hmMJ
— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) December 31, 2018
Once again, Blanton’s athleticism’s is perfectly on display here. He makes the catch and turns upfield. He’s then able to hurdle the fully standing defensive back. Not many players in the NFL can do that.
Can Blanton make a significant enough impact in camp to make the final roster?
Making the roster is going to be an uphill battle for Blanton as the Rams brought in three very talented undrafted free agents to compete. However, there is a reason that he found the top-10 in some draft analysts tight ends pre-draft.
He’s incredibly talented with the prototypical size and his 22 bench press reps at the combine were second among tight ends. If he can use his size to his advantage, he has the potential to develop into a very good second tight end.
2019 Outlook and Role
Unlike Brown, Blanton has special teams experience. If he can find a place on special teams, he’ll have an excellent chance at making the roster. If he makes the roster, special teams seem like the most likely role.
Chances of Making Final Roster
Blanton was seen as a day-three or priority free agent in this past year’s draft. While he has the prototypical size and measurables, he has yet to put it together to become a dominant passing threat and blocker.
If Blanton can make an impact on special teams while contributing on offense during the preseason, he’ll have a pretty good chance at making the roster over Brown and Booker.