After the 2021 NFL Draft, the Los Angeles Rams all of a sudden have a very promising and very deep tight end room. This is despite allowing Gerald Everett to walk in free agency. The team drafted Brycen Hopkins in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft and took Jacob Harris in the fourth round this season. Johnny Mundt is also a veteran in the group.
That doesn’t even mention Tyler Higbee who could have more success with more opportunity as the most experienced tight end on the roster.
There are some question marks regarding Brycen Hopkins’ future role. Not many fans would have expected the team to take another tight end in the draft after selection Hopkins one year ago. However, that’s exactly what happened with the Rams drafted Harris.
Hopkins’ future is even more in question after Jacob Harris’ rise in OTA’s which has many fans excited about his potential.
The Search For a Backup Tight End
Hopkins and Harris are both young players with not a lot of experience for the Los Angeles Rams. After the departure of Everett, the Rams will be looking for that TE2 to play behind Higbee.
While Harris has shown off his athletic ability, fans still need to pump the brakes on the rookie. At the end of the day, he’s still a rookie tight end who’s transitioning to the NFL and switching positions. The athletic profile is there, but he still needs refining and was drafted in the fourth round for a reason.
Tight end is historically one of the most difficult positions to transition to from the college level. The Rams can certainly make things easier by lining Harris in the slot, but it will still take time. George Kittle only had 515 yards as a rookie. Harris has garnered some Darren Waller comparisons. Waller dealt with some substance abuse, but still didn’t break out until year four.
Hopkins on the other hand played in just three snaps last season and seems to be trending down. His future on the roster is certainly in question and he needs to show some significant development.
Expect the Unexpected
In all of this talk about the backup tight end position, there is one name that constantly gets left out. That player is Johnny Mundt. Mundt might not be the player that some fans expect or want to be the guy behind Higbee, but he is most likely the option that the Los Angeles Rams go with in that spot.
Like Malcolm Brown in years prior, the Rams clearly value Mundt as someone in their tight end room. So much so, that the Rams gave him a one-year contract in the offseason. With that said, he’s nearly a lock to make the final roster. The Rams wouldn’t have given him a contract if there were any chance of cutting him.
While the Rams have players like Jacob Harris and Brycen Hopkins, both players are very inexperienced. Both Harris and Hopkins are going to need at least another year to continue to develop. Mundt brings a veteran presence as a depth piece and is someone that Sean McVay can rely on.
What Johnny Mundt Brings to the Table
Johnny Mundt joined the Los Angeles Rams in 2017 as an undrafted free agent. Mundt spent time on the Rams’ practice squad, but has worked his way up to the active roster. For the past two seasons, Mundt has added a blocking skillset to the tight end room and now adds a much needed veteran presence.
Mundt joined the Rams from Oregon where he put together a decent career. He jumped onto the scene as a freshman. He played in all 13 games as a freshman and was the team’s sixth-leading receiver. Against Tennessee in his third career game, he caught five passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns.
Injuries derailed his momentum during his sophomore and junior seasons. However, he developed more as a blocker and threat in the red zone. During his senior year, he ranked second on the Ducks with four touchdown passes.
Mundt is definitely more of a blocking tight end, but we haven’t seen what he brings as a pass catcher. He averaged 17.6 yards per catch during his senior year at Oregon. Last season, he made an impressive catch and run against the Chicago Bears.
Johnny Mundt breaking tackles and picking up 34! #RamsHouse
— NFL (@NFL) October 27, 2020
Mundt might have the ability to be a threat in the passing game, and it’s just not something that fans have seen yet. He certainly more of a blocker and that’s where he specializes, but his potential as a receiver has been untapped.
What To Expect from Mundt in 2021
With his experience in the system and as the veteran of the group, Johnny Mundt should be seen as the primary backup option to Tyler Higbee. His usage has been sparse in the Los Angeles Rams offense and he’s typically been used as a blocker.
However, last season when Higbee missed the Week 7 game against the Bears, Mundt received more than 60% of the snaps on offense. Meanwhile, Brycen Hopkins got three total snaps. Guys like Harris and Hopkins could certainly rotate in, but Mundt will likely get the majority of the snaps there.
This will especially be the case if the Rams continue to run in 12 personnel. Last season, Johnny Mundt had a run blocking grade of 62.3 which was just behind Tyler Higbee’s 62.4 according to Pro Football Focus.
Higbee has improved in blocking, but both Harris and Hopkins are seen more as receiving threats. Hopkins struggled with consistency as a blocker at Purdue and Harris will be switching from wide receiver where he likely didn’t do a lot of in-line blocking.
It’ll be interesting to see if McVay goes back to using more 11 personnel or if the Rams utilize Mundt more in the passing game even in 12 personnel situations.
Mundt may not be the mist exciting tight end of the Rams roster or have the highest ceiling. However, his role as a blocking tight end won’t go overlooked and he could get more opportunity in the passing game.