The Michigan native can run routes and catch — not to mention block.
But how does he match up with other NFL prospects?
That is the biggest question he hopes to answer this week when he is in Mobile, Ala., for the Senior Bowl.
“It’s an opportunity for guys like me and to go against that top competition, to line up against kids from Alabama, LSU, Ohio State, and really just prove that everything you did in college, like everything you did at the level you played at translates,” Trautman said. “Because I mean obviously the asterisk next to all my scouting reports is the kids I played and the competition compared to the kid from Alabama who played like 100 NFL prospects over the year, you know?
“So this is yeah this is absolutely huge for my evaluation and a huge opportunity for me to get in front of all the head coaches, GMs and coaching staffs show ‘em that I belong with those players.”
Scouts already know who Trautman is. He said representatives from every NFL team made their way to Dayton last fall to see him — 98 scouts in all — after word on him got out via a positive report from a workout he had for scouts from the Colts and Lions last spring.
Since graduating from UD with a degree in electrical engineering in December, he has spent most of his time preparing for the Senior Bowl at his agency, REP1 Sports, in Irvine, Calif.
There he has already gotten to work out with other draft hopefuls from major FBS conferences, and worked with former Bengals offensive line coach Paul Alexander, among others.
“It’s huge because for me obviously at the level I played at I could do things like multiple times in the same game, like the same technique, and it would still work,” Trautman said. “Now it’s setting guys up different ways because you’re gonna be doing one-on-ones with linebackers and safeties, like running routes different ways to keep them guessing, and then the run game it’s just being physical and finishing blocks.”
Trautman feels good about the skills he received from coaches at UD, and he figures to impress NFL personnel with his knowledge of the game and his position.
That leaves the big task for the week showing them how he has grown from an unrated quarterback recruit from Williamsburg, Mich., to a tight end who could be selected in an early or middle round of the NFL Draft.
“I was a late bloomer,” he said. “I was 175 pounds I think it was at the end of my junior year and by that time in the recruiting process, all the FBS schools have their guys (at quarterback) pretty much.”
He had bulked up to 215 pounds by his senior season but felt the remoteness of his hometown (near Traverse City in the northern part of Michigan’s southern peninsula) prevented him from getting more exposure to college coaches.
“I also had the same asterisk I have now, like the competition I played in northern Michigan was not very great obviously so they don’t really want to take a chance on that, and no one wants to go up there and really recruit,” he said.
“That’s the difference between NFL and college — colleges miss, NFL does not.”
Getting to the Senior Bowl became a goal of Trautman’s once he started getting attention from NFL scouts, and now that time has arrived.
“It just keeps you motivated to know that in this process you have one chance at everything,” Trautman said. “You get one chance to go to the Senior Bowl and prove that you can play with these guys. You can go and blow it up, and it’s like, ‘All right, yep this kid belongs,’ or you go and lay an egg and it’s like, ‘All right, maybe he can’t play with these guys’ and you’ll start to get question marks and all that kind of stuff.
“Obviously I’m confident enough in how I’ve been trained and coached and all the help and assistance I have out here that I’ll be very confident and prepared for anything they can throw at me.”
Trautman is one of eight tight ends who has accepted an invitation to the game, a group that also includes Charlie Taumoepeau of FCS Portland State.
The teams have three practices scheduled this week, and the game will be played at 2:30 p.m. Saturday on NFL Network.
After that, Trautman will return to California to continue working out for the draft with hopes of being invited to the annual NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis at the end of February.
The draft is set for April 23-25 in Las Vegas.