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Cards See A Little Kittle in Cantrell?

Arizona State v Texas Tech Photo by John Weast/Getty Images

Take a good look at the Cardinals’ newest signee, TE Dylan Cantrell, 6-3, 240 of Texas Tech, the former 2018 6th round pick (#191) of the Los Angeles Chargers.

My notes:


  • He’s always open, even when it looks like he’s not, because he repeatedly uses his good frame and strong hands to win the vast majority of 50/50 balls.
  • Has above average ability to adjust to the football in the air.
  • Excellent blocker—-plays a tough, physical brand of football.
  • Uses his body to leverage and seal off the defender and turns his head back to the football at the precise time.
  • Has an uncanny ability to secure passes that he initially bobbles—-and is rock solid tucking the football away.
  • Runs a textbook “out” route—-if thrown on time, it’s unstoppable, particularly in the red zone.


  • Lacks top speed which limits his route tree, but he makes up for it by being physical and for having impressive short area quickness (6.56 3 cone).
  • Lacks ideal length for a TE and particularly for a receiver who thrives on jump balls, although his 38.5” vertical helps him compensate.
  • He will succeed if he has a coach and a QB who are willing to play to his strengths and are eager to throw to him on 50/50 balls, as Kliff Kingsbury, Patrick Mahomes and Davis Webb were at Texas Tech.

2018 NFL Combine results:

40: 4.59

225 reps: 18

VJ: 38 1/2”

BJ: 10’10”

3 Cone: 6.56

Pass routes and hands: clean

See for yourself:

Result: better athlete than one might think (the 38.5” vertical and 130” BJ shows his impressive explosion and is an indication of why he wins so many 50/50 balls), although his 4.59 40 likely cost him a 3rd round pick.

However, at his Pro Day on 3/23/18 Cantrell ran 4.4 and improved his vertical to 41”.

Pre-Draft 2018 Buzz: Peter Shrager sees Cantrell as the next Cooper Kupp:

Shrager knows how often Kliff Kingsbury raved about Dylan Cantrell at Texas Tech. Where Shrager went wrong was predicting that Cantrell was going to run a 4.4 40 at the Combine—-where he ran a 4.59 instead. However, Shrager wasn’t all wrong because, as noted, Cantrell did run a 4.4 at his Pro Day a month later.

The Combine numbers suggest that Dylan Cantrell is a similar athlete to Cooper Kupp—-in fact, all of the numbers happen to favor Cantrell as Kupp ran a 4.62 40, 31” VJ, 9’8” BJ and 6.75 3 cone.

So why didn't things work out for Cantrell with the Chargers?

This article explains it very well—-going to the IR with a shoulder injury after two good camps is one of the main reasons:

Cantrell’s Transition to TE: Cards See A Little Kittle in Cantrell?

Now that Dylan Cantrell is 6’3” 240—-take a look at how he compares physically (Combine numbers) with the 49ers’ All-Pro TE George Kittle:

Kittle: 6’4”, 4.52 40, 35” VJ, 132” BJ, 18 reps at 225, Iowa stats: 48/737/15.4/10-TDs

Cantrell: 6’3”, 4.59 40, 38.5” VJ, 130” BJ, 18 reps, Texas Tech stats: 158/1,873/11.9/18-TDs

The 49ers play George Kittle as a traditional TE and as a “flex” TE. I believe that Dylan Cantrell is already made to order for the Cardinals’ flex “Y” receiver in the K-Raid. The Cardinals have an excellent traditional TE in Maxx Williams. Larry Fitzgerald frequently plays the “Y”, as does Dan Arnold. So Cantrell now hops into the mix.

If Dylan Cantrell can prove that he can play both the traditional TE spot and the flex ‘Y”, man, think of how this could further diversify the K-Raid, particularly in Kingsbury’s use of the 10, 11 and 12 personnel. Cantrell proved to be a relentless blocker at Texas Tech, albeit from the slot and WR positions—-and he is a workout warrior—-per Shrager, he performs clean bench reps at 325.

Kudos to Sports Hot Rumors & Debates for this timely video—-seems that Peter Shrager, Seth Cox and I are not the only ones who are extremely intrigued and excited about the Cardinals’ signing Dylan Cantrell:

Cantrell will take some time to develop as a traditional TE—-but in the interim he can carve out a strong role for himself on special teams and in flex TE situations, particularly in the red zone, where he could also be employed as an H-Back/FB.

Boy oh boy the Cardinals just added another spectacular set of hands to the offense.