TE Jared Pinkney, Vanderbilt
The Atlanta Falcons have a new starting tight end with Austin Hooper hitting free agency and signing with the Cleveland Browns. After Hooper left, the Falcons then made a trade for Hayden Hurst in which they gave up a second and fifth-round pick in this past year’s draft. The Falcons did receive a fourth-rounder from Baltimore which was used to draft safety Jaylinn Hawkins.
The role behind Hurst will most likely be filled by second-year tight end Jaeden Graham who played in all sixteen games and caught nine passes for 149 yards and a score as a rookie. The third-string tight end spot is up for grabs with XFL player Khari Lee and three UDFA’s battling for the spot.
Lee has bounced from a few teams in the NFL, his last stint being with the Buffalo Bills in 2018 where he only appeared in two games. He has not found much success at the NFL level but for the DC Defenders in the XFL he made eight catches for 91 yards and two touchdowns. He only had one solid game and that was the opener and in the end, I think he will not make the Falcons roster.
Out of the three UDFA tight ends Atlanta signed, Pinkney has a legitimate shot as being the third-string guy. His junior season was solid after catching 50 passes for 774 yards and seven touchdowns, which put him as a top tight end candidate in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Pinkney elected to go back to Vanderbilt though for his senior season and had a disappointing season and combine which caused his stock to fall mightly.
He ended up undrafted to my surprise but I believe the Atlanta Falcons are getting a top tight end prospect and I expect him to excel in preseason and land on the Falcons 53-man roster.