Welcome to Volume Five of “The Draft Spies”. This week, we will tremble while taking a detailed look at Notre Dame tight end Tommy Tremble. We will discuss why he is an ideal player for the Bills to select in the upcoming NFL draft. (Do note that the team has already met with Tremble this off-season, meaning they are interested in him.) There has been much uncertainty in Buffalo’s tight end room over the past couple of years. Can Tommy Tremble be the answer?
Note For Readers: From this point forward, until the draft, Spy articles will focus on offensive prospects that the Bills have interviewed/met with virtually.
SPY 1: WHO is the prospect?
Tommy Tremble was born and raised in Norcross, Georgia, a small city located about 20 minutes northeast of Atlanta. Tremble played his first three years of interscholastic football at Johns Creek High School in Atlanta before transferring to The Wesleyan School, a private institution, his senior year. While there aren’t many stats available from his high school days, his work ethic and character have been well documented. According to Patrick Engel (BlueAndGold.com), Tremble has never been one to crave the spotlight. He was content to be one of 11 on the field. That team-first mentality, as well as his athletic potential, may have been the reason he received 25 offers from Division I schools as a three-star recruit (per 247 Sports and Rivals). The 6’4”, 225-pound tight end wound up committing to Notre Dame.
SPY 2: WHERE did he come from?
Tremble, who bulked up to 248 pounds, served primarily as the number two/blocking tight end in Brian Kelly’s offense and was deployed both on the line (hand in the dirt/out in the slot) and off the line (at tight end, receiver, and fullback). To this end, Tremble showed promise both as a blocker and receiver. In 19 games with the Fighting Irish, he recorded 35 receptions, 401 yards, and four touchdowns. In 2020, he earned All-ACC Honorable Mentions.
SPY 3: WHAT are his attributes?
The number one physical attribute that comes to mind when one mentions Tommy Tremble is his athleticism. This comes in a few notable forms: body control, explosiveness, and speed. The following image shows a few traits which are extremely desirable, proof of a high-motor player that can use his skills in an efficient, tactical manner while plays are in motion.
Firstly, look at Tremble’s body position. He’s contorted to catch an off-axis pass, with the upper body pivoted towards the catch point. Once the catch is made, Tremble shows the ability to quickly transition into YAC (yards-after-catch) mode. His eyes and head are already in the process of coming off the catch and onto the field itself. Being on one leg during the catch shows that Tremble is well-versed in catching on the run. In these types of situations, Tremble is hard to take down and can be an explosive YAC threat, especially on the boundary, in play-action, and in the red zone. His frame also makes him an effective 50/50 ball catcher in tight spots.
Additionally, Tremble can use his large frame to set up blocks on the outside, on screens, and other boundary target plays near the line of scrimmage. However, Tremble’s ability to play on the line with his hand in the dirt is highly limited. (Therefore, it would not be ideal to simply employ him in the same manner as Lee Smith.) With that said, Tremble can do well blocking on runs that are not inside power gashes. (He earned an 83.7 run-blocking grade from PFF last season, the highest in the nation.)
Kyle Crabbs (The Draft Network) implied that Tremble can be a developmental tight end in the NFL. In this regard, it is reasonable to assert that (based on player experience) Tremble is more pro-ready than Dawson Knox was when he joined the NFL.
According to NBC Sports, Tremble posted a 68% catch rate in 2020. While this may seem to be well below what would be considered “good,” the matter must be put into context. Much like NFL teams, NCAA football teams had little prep and practice time due to COVID restrictions. Moreover, Tremble had QB Ian Book throwing him passes, a notoriously inconsistent and troublesome passer.
WTD Analysis: Notre Dame vs. Clemson (November 2020)
As you may know, the WTD (“What the Dickens”) Analysis is designed to evaluate an individual player’s performance on each and every play. Positive scores (+0.1 to +1) indicate good execution of an assignment, while negative scores (-0.1 to -1) connote poor execution. A score of “0” means that the execution of the play was neither good nor bad or that the player was not significantly involved in the play. (Note: Players can record a positive WTD score on negative plays, and vice versa.)
|Time Stamp (Video)||Player Action||Play Result||WTD Score|
|6:55||Ran route; not targeted||8 yard reception (Defensive holding)||0|
|13:47||Ran route; not targeted||Sack||0|
|14:26||Lined up in slot; did nothing on play||4 yard run||0|
|17:07||Easy catch-and-go on flat route||8 yard reception||+0.6|
|17:49||2x-lead block on DE, whiffs on LB block||1 yard run||-0.2|
|18:26||Ran route; not targeted||6 yard run||0|
|19:14||2x-team block on DE||3 yard run||+0.2|
|27:15||Ran route; not targeted||6 yard run||0|
|28:34||2x-teamed 2 LBs as FB||5 yard run||+0.3|
|29:17||Blocked S||1 yard run||+0.2|
|30:07||Lined up in slot, ran intermediate slant; easy catch in traffic||14 yard reception||+0.7|
|30:46||Ran route; not targeted||14 yard reception||0|
|31:41||Blocked DE as FB||3 yard run||+0.3|
|32:13||Solid block on LB||15 yard run||+0.6|
|32:37||Decent block on LB||1 yard run||+0.4|
|33:19||Lined up in slot, ran route; not targeted (could’ve done more to get separation)||Incomplete pass||-0.3|
|35:01||Lined up in slot, ran route; not targeted||Incomplete pass||0|
|47:41||Ran flat route; not targeted||Sack||0|
|58:03||Initial block on DE||0 yard run (Illegal block in back; not Tremble)||+0.1|
|1:00:50||Lined up in slot; took 3 to 4 steps to turn at top of hitch route; caught pass||10 yard reception||+0.4|
|1:12:25||Lined up in slot; ran hitch route (slightly pushed off); not targeted||4 yard run||0|
|1:25:06||Lined up as FB; didn’t make good block||-3 yard run||-0.5|
|1:38:58||Lined up in slot; ran route; not targeted||45 yard reception||0|
|1:42:03||Ran route; not targeted||3 yard reception||0|
|1:47:24||Lined up as FB; solid block on DE||7 yard run||+0.6|
|1:47:53||Lined up as WR; was in position for potential block||2 yard run (fumble lost)||+0.4|
|1:51:55||LB shed block after solid initial effort||-1 yard run||-0.1|
|1:52:31||Ran route; not targeted||Incomplete pass||0|
|1:53:15||Lined up in slot; ran intermediate crossing route, drew S away from underneath TE; not targeted||29 yard reception||+0.2|
|1:54:10||Missed lead block on WR reverse||-4 yard run||-0.7|
|2:02:21||Lined up in slot; ran out route; not targeted||Incomplete pass||0|
|2:03:07||Ran stop-and-go route; was open; pass off target||Incomplete pass||+0.4|
|2:04:45||Lined up at WR; ran streak route; not targeted||Incomplete pass||0|
|2:20:58||Lined up at WR; ran route; not targeted; attempted block at end||13 yard reception||+0.2|
|2:24:51||Lined up in slot; ran route; not targeted||3 yard reception||0|
|2:25:20||Lined up in slot; ran drag route; not targeted||Incomplete pass||0|
|2:57:06||Ran route; not targeted||5 yard reception||0|
|2:57:48||Solid 2x-team block on LB||3 yard TD run||+0.5|
|3:05:33||Solid block on LB||-5 yard run||+0.6|
|3:06:58||Lined up in slot; ran intermediate crossing route (wide open); not targeted||10-yard reception||+0.5|
|3:07:46||Decent block on LB||0 yard run||+0.3|
|3:08:51||Solid block on S in 2nd-level||3 yard TD run||+0.7|
Even with a limited role in the Notre Dame offense, Tremble is an effective and consistent contributor. When he was in action against Clemson, he had a net positive effect on offensive play. He showed solid blocking and sure hands in the open field. However, he also seemed unsure how to handle running certain routes and the scramble drill. These observations are consistent throughout his entire collegiate career.
SPY 4: WHEN should he be drafted?
It is most accurate to predict that Tremble is drafted in the middle rounds of the draft. The official BF estimate puts him in the fifth round. Coincidentally, the Buffalo Bills have two fifth-round picks in the upcoming draft. Again, the Bills have met with Tremble, indicating a level of interest in the player. The main reason why Tremble doesn’t have a higher draft ranking is his lack of production as a passing threat. However, many great tight ends have found themselves in such a position, historically. It would be rather surprising to see Tremble drop to the bottom rounds of the draft, but stranger things have happened.
SPY 5: WHY Tremble is a fit for Buffalo’s offense?
In his end-of-season press conference, Brandon Beane said the Bills needed to add more athletic playmakers to the tight end position. While Tremble may not be the most polished receiving threat, he brings athleticism and versatility that would be useful in Brian Daboll’s offense. (Imagine Tremble and Dawson Knox as Buffalo’s Gronk and Hernandez.) Additionally, even though he’s not a complete replacement for Lee Smith, Tremble can be a blocking tight end on the majority of run plays, play actions, and run-pass options. (Daboll has commonly employed extra offensive linemen in short-yardage/goal-line situations, so Tremble would not have to fully replace Smith.) He would be a cheap, multi-faceted option for Buffalo both in the short and long-term; something that is necessary for their current contention window.
DARK HORSE BONUS POINT: Prospect Fun Facts
- Tommy comes from a long line of football players as his father, two uncles, and maternal grandfather all played at the collegiate level. Additionally, his father, Greg Tremble, was a backup safety on the 1995 Super Bowl Champion Dallas Cowboys.
- According to Mike Berardino (Indianapolis Star), Georgia Bulldogs Head Coach Kirby Smart is a close family friend of the Trembles. (It must have been awkward when Tommy chose to attend Notre Dame over Georgia.)
- According to Carter Karels (South Bend Tribune), Tommy’s lifelong best friend, Eric Habelow, has Down Syndrome. The two have vehemently and constantly supported one another on their journeys through life. (We’re sure that Sean McDermott would like that the two wrestled constantly!)
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