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A case for signing MyCole Pruitt now

Tennessee Titans v Houston Texans Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Jonnu Smith, Anthony Firkser, Geoff Swaim, MyCole Pruitt. Who? Those were the four leading tight ends for the Tennessee Titans last year. Smith and Firkser are probably familiar names to many fans, and Swaim may be known by WFT fans from his days in Dallas. Pruitt wasn’t a name I was familiar with before the last tight end I was pining for was taken off the free agency board:

In a panic, I went to Overthecap.com to see who else was left at the position. With Henry, Smith, and Everett all gone, there’s not much left. Jacob Hollister? Eh. Trey Burton? Meh. Scrolling down the list, I focused on guys who got a decent number of snaps last year. Luke Stocker? No. Richard Rodgers? Been there, done that. MyCole Pruitt? Who is this guy?

Who is MyCole Pruitt?

His stats certainly aren’t going to blow you away: 32 receptions, 342 yards, and 4 TDs over a 6 year career. Then I went to Twitter and saw the tweet below. Who cares where 4th string tight ends sign? I mean, the Titans had some nice depth, but still, it seemed odd:

Then I dug a bit more. Earlier this year, “Music City Miracles,” the Titans’ SBNation blog profiled all the players who might leave after the season. These excerpts are from that piece:

He signed with the Titans in 2018 and hasn’t looked back since. He’s an underrated member of this high scoring offense. He plays an unheralded role. Pruitt does the dirty work and rarely gets credit for it. He’s an underrated pass catcher that often takes advantage of the opportunities he gets in this area, but where Pruitt really shines is in the run game where he’s often used as a sixth offensive linemen.

Pruitt was a free agent last offseason as well, and returned on a one-year deal. Prior to re-signing with the Titans, Derrick Henry ran into his Pruitt’s agent at a public event. Henry told him, and I quote, “Make sure Pruitt is back in Tennessee. I can’t do what I do without him.”

Lead blocker for the back-to-back NFL rushing leader? Hello! How could the Titans let this guy get away?

The Titans should bring Pruitt back on another short term, team friendly deal. It won’t cost much to bring him back, and you know you’re going to get great effort and competitive football out of him.

Now we’re talking! In the comments section, several Tennessee fans were more interested in seeing Pruitt come back than Smith.

Next, I checked out 2020 PFF grades for some of the remaining tight ends on the board:

Jacob Hollister - 62.4

Kyle Rudolph - 66.5

Trey Burton - 66.7

MyCole Pruitt - 72.1

Not bad at all!

Conclusion

I’ve written in the past about how nearly all successful tight ends end up requiring at least a couple of years of seasoning in the NFL to become effective. At nearly 29, Pruitt has had plenty of time for seasoning, and may well have a couple of good years left. In Scott Turner’s offense, Pruitt could be used as a full-back, or primarily in a blocking tight end role, but his hands are also good enough that he can be a receiving threat.

Do I think he’s the long term answer at TE2 for the team? Probably not, but given that we’re unlikely to get any immediate tight end relief in the draft this year, I think we do need to get Logan Thomas and our running backs some additional help. At a $2-3M/year on a 1 or 2 year deal, Pruitt could end up being just the guy.

After the article was originally published, we received this great, additional intel in the comments from Vikings’ fan, cka2nd:

We drafted Pruitt in the 5th round in 2015, the same year we signed Taylor Heinicke, and he had 10 catches for 89 yards and three first downs as a rookie, but then the damned Bears poached him off of our practice squad the next year. Scott Turner was on the coaching staff at the time, and I imagine Heinicke and Pruitt worked directly with each other in practice and on the scout team.

Pruitt was a very prolific pass catcher for the Southern Illinois Salukis, and was a two-time first-team FCS All-American (2013 and 2014, while Heinicke was so honored for 2011 and 2012). He caught 81 passes for 861 yards and 13 TD’s as a senior, including 10 catches for 136 yards against Division 1 Purdue. Ahead of the 2015 draft, NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein worried that “the tape shows an alarming inconsistency of effort and competitive fire” and that Pruitt ”Doesn’t show consistent competitive toughness as a goal-line blocker and gears down in his routes if he doesn’t anticipate getting the ball,” but those concerns seem to have been completely addressed for the good over the last six years.

Poll

Would you be interested in the WFT pursuing Pruitt?

This poll is closed

  • 59%
    Yes, let’s do it.
    (773 votes)
  • 33%
    Seems fine.
    (433 votes)
  • 7%
    No thanks.
    (97 votes)
1303 votes total Vote Now