Air Force Football 2021 Offseason Preview: Tight End

Air Force Football 2021 Offseason Preview: Tight End

Air Force

Air Force Football 2021 Offseason Preview: Tight End

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Tight End is a High Ceiling Position Group


Can Kyle Patterson be an All-Conference Player?


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We are continuing to work through our offseason previews of the Falcon’s position groups as we head into the summer. The defensive side of the ball is in the books, as we previously looked at linebackers, the secondary and defensive line.

Most recently, we kicked off our previews on offense, with the offensive line. Today we land in coach Jonathan Himebauch’s tight end room. In the Air Force offense, the tight end is an extension of the offensive line, the ability to effectively block is paramount to what they want to do on offense. Thankfully, the Falcon’s don’t just return an experienced blocker at the position, but a very real threat in the pass game in Kyle Patterson.

Rhett Harms is the only real experience they are losing at the position from last year. While he was a solid depth contributor, Harms snaps should be replaceable with the current cast. Lets take a look at what Air Force’s tight end situation will look like this year.

BONAFIDE

It’s not hyperbole to say the best player to ever line up at tight end for Air Force is on the 2021 roster, in Kyle Patterson. While this is not a position that typically gets a lot of attention by way of offensive production, it is a spot where the Falcons have had some talented players. The mere fact that former Falcon, Garrett Griffin is presently in the NFL is a pretty good indication.

Griffin had a great career with Air Force, but he never led the team in catches, yards or touchdowns. Some of that could be attributed to some prolific receivers being at the Academy in his tenure, but still, the fact that as a sophomore, Kyle Patterson led Air Force in yards, catches and touchdowns cannot be ignored.

The once coveted recruit averaged 17 yards per catch in last years shortened season. His 12 catches for 205 yards and two touchdowns in five games played, all led the team. These might not seem like eye-popping statistics, but when you think about how often Air Force runs the ball, it’s a very deceptive. Speaking of running, Patterson is also formidable as a blocker with a 6” 6′ 245 pound frame. He looks the part, and he plays the part.

Similar to recent Air Force grad Kadin Remsberg, this is another player who in a more conventional offense could produce big time numbers. Instead, expect Patterson to punish defenders down after down, only to rip out their heart when he finally releases on a route.

EXPERIENCED

Beyond the aforementioned Patterson, there is not a wealth of in game experience in this position group. Air Force rarely features multiple tight end sets, so there hasn’t been a great need to lean on many guys. Dalton King, however, is senior this year, and has some game experience.

It’s not always about on field product when looking at experience, but having guys in the room who have prepared, traveled on the road and can help acclimate younger players provides great benefit. Look for Dalton King to be in the rotation to spell Patterson as needed, or in the unfortunate event their tight end depth is tested for injury.

WILDCARDS

One of the more interesting prospects from the 2018 class is Chris Kane. He was a pretty well regarded 3-star commit, who after spending a year at the Prep school finds himself as junior in 2021. Despite being one of the most highly rated recruits, Kane has yet to carve a niche for himself on the Falcons roster. That window of opportunity has gotten much tighter with Patterson as a fellow classmen.

Perhaps he puts it all together though, and the talent shows up on the field, and we can revisit that statement earlier, about not leveraging many multiple tight end sets? Don’t turn the chapter on Kane just yet.

Another name to become familiar with would be Caden Blum. As a freshman, he got a jersey last year which is worth note of itself. Also in that prototypical tight end frame, he should hold up well in the blocking game. Expect to see Blum for years to come, and with each year that passes, his role to expand.

2020 vs. 2021 PROJECTED

I don’t think its fair to propose someone like Kyle Patterson as an All-Conference talent, and then say their position group is “sneaky good”. However, because of the frequency that tight ends are fielding passes at Air Force, I’ll softly imply it.

The position group here will be stronger in 2021 for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which is just another year of development for last year’s leading pass catcher. I also think that we could see a bolstering of the depth because of a player like Chris Kane, Dalton King or Caden Blum even taking another step forward.

Maybe we are watching the next iteration of NFL talent in an Air Force tight end? I’m sure Garrett Griffin would welcome the company, but the Falcons have a few more years of Mountain West Battles and Commander-in-Chief Wars first!

BONUS

Speaking of former Falcon tight end, Garrett Griffin, he was recently featured on the History of Air Force Football page. You can check out Griffin’s interview here as they recently caught up with him. Be sure to keep up with the great work being done there, which includes interviews and features on various Falcon greats throughout the years. You can also follow them on Twitter @historyfalcon .

Its been a busy summer for Air Force fanatic, Rick Baum of the History of Air Force page. Rick was also recently interviewed in the Sports Gambling Podcast preview of Air Force. You can take a listen at what they expect from the Falcons on the podcast here.

And of course, once you have consumed all the Air Force material you can get your hands on, you can start scouting the competition in the Mountain West Conference on our Podcasts Page here at the Mountain West Wire.

 

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