The Detroit Lions have added to their tight end room with their first pick on Saturday, selecting Virginia Tech tight end James Mitchell with their compensatory pick in the fifth round (No. 177).
Mitchell had a couple of really nice seasons in 2019 and 2020 for the Hokies, recording 361 and 435 receiving yards, respectively, while averaging better than 16.7 yards per reception in each of those two seasons. He played both inline and in the slot at Virginia Tech, so there's some versatility to his game. He's also got a basketball background, which translates to the football field when watching him play.
"I would say I'm just a very versatile player," Mitchell said Saturday. "At Virginia Tech I was used all over the field. I became a better blocker as the years went on, but I pride myself with being able to play all over the field."
Mitchell played in only two games this past season after suffering a torn ACL in September. He told reporters after the pick he's cleared to return to the football field in June with no restrictions.
He was a three-year starter and team captain in 2021. He has a big frame (6-4, 249) and a big catch radius. Over 70 percent of his college receptions went for either a first down or touchdown.
View photos of Detroit Lions first-round picks Aidan Hutchinson & Jameson Williams arriving in Detroit and touring the Allen Park practice facility.
If not for the knee injury, Mitchell would likely have been selected before 177. He could give the Lions a nice No. 2 option at tight end next to T.J. Hockenson.
"Being able to learn from a coach like (Dan Campbell), a guy that played the position and knows what it's about, and T.J. there too," Mitchell said. "I'm just excited to be in that environment and learn and soak it all in. I know they will continue to help me develop as a player and get me to where I want to be."