2023 NFL Draft

2023 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Penn State WR Mitchell Tinsley

From now until the 2023 NFL Draft, we hope to scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top-10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections, and priority undrafted free agents. Today, we’ll be profiling Penn State WR Mitchell Tinsley.


NFLPA Bowl Participant
Shrine Bowl Participant
NFL Combine


Player Ht/Wt Hand Size Arm Length Wingspan
Mitchell Tinsley 6000/199 10″ 32 3/8″ 75 5/8″
40-Yard Dash 10-Yard Dash Short Shuttle 3-Cone
4.60 1.57 4.21 6.70
Broad Jump Vertical Bench Press
10′ 0″ 35 1/2″ 14


— Solid footwork off the snap, creates leverage for himself to begin his route
— Good sense of where the soft spot in the zone is
— Good catch radius and hands above his body
— Runs well with the ball in his hands, generates yards after catch with good angles and some physicality to finish plays— Good change of direction at the top of his routes, able to accelerate and decelerate quickly
— Solid contributor at three programs at all different levels of college football


— Lacks a defining trait with just adequate overall athleticism and top-end speed
— Route tree could use some development
— Very few reps in the slot, played mostly outside on the left side of the offense
— Doesn’t adjust to the ball in the air well
— Mentality and physicality as a blocker are missing
— Multiple drops when the ball was thrown low
— Inconsistent effort when he isn’t play side or the first read


— 23 years old, will be 24 in September
— Played just one year of football in high school at Lee’s Summit High School in Missouri
— Also lettered in basketball and track and field as a long jumper
— Rated a three-star JUCO prospect after two years of play at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas
— Played at Western Kentucky for his junior and senior seasons, playing with quarterback Bailey Zappe
— Named second-team All-Conference USA selection in 2021 (1,402 receiving yards, 14 TDs, 87 receptions)
— Used extra year of Covid eligibility at Penn State (577 receiving yards, 5 TDs, 51 receptions), playing with Sean Clifford as his quarterback
— Contributed to a Rose Bowl Victory over Utah with 6 receptions for 49 yards and a touchdown
— Late addition to the Shrine Bowl after a good showing in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl


Tinsley is at his best against zone coverage where he has a good feel for the soft spot and how to get open. In the first play of this clip, he sees the middle of the field open up and slows his speed to sit where his quarterback can see him. He secures the catch despite a hard hit. The second play, he shows off his change of direction with a quick hitch. Again, he senses the off coverage and abuses it for an easy gain. The third and final play of the clip, he demonstrates a little wiggle in his route with a subtle double move to gain leverage. The quarterback didn’t throw his way, but he did well positioning himself to give his quarterback a chance deep. He doesn’t have blazing speed, so he finds his way open with vision and crafty footwork.

In this next clip, Tinsley puts it all together with a hitch route to get open, turning away from the defender and gaining a bunch of yards after catch. With the ball in his hands, his ability to vary his speed and his vision as a ball carrier generated an explosive play for his team, made more impressive considering the competition.

While he typically has good hands, especially when the ball is thrown high, Tinsley is susceptible to drops when it’s thrown low and he has to flip his hands. He is also slow to adjust to the ball in the air, and it prevents him from having a chance at the deep ball at times.

Tinsley doesn’t add much as a blocker out on the perimeter. He does not try to block or deliver the hit; he is more of a “get in the way” kind of blocker. The first play of this clip, Tinsley finds himself as the lead blocker. Instead of confidently making the block, he breaks his feet down further clogging up the running lane for the ball carrier. On the second play of the clip, he doesn’t transition well from running a route into blocking downfield. The mentality as a blocker isn’t there for him. This also brings into question his value as a special teamer where he would have to contribute to make any roster.


Tinsley had an interesting path in his football career, being a one-year high school player. He didn’t get recruited and spent a lot of time trying to climb the ranks of college football, eventually ending up with Penn State, which ended up the No. 7 team in the nation in 2022. His perseverance and belief in himself is admirable, and that will endear him in the eyes of some evaluators.

Tinsley doesn’t have a defining trait but is fast enough and physical enough to compete for a roster spot in the NFL. His hands are good, other than when he has to adjust to an off-target throw or when he has to flip his hands for a low pass. One of the big questions for him will be his fit as a special teamer early in his career. His athleticism and his struggles as a blocker would suggest special teams aren’t a great fit.

Given his lack of experience playing in the slot and the projected lack of special-teams value, the Steelers are unlikely to look his way, unless it’s as a priority free agent after the draft.

Projection: Late Day 3/PFA

Depot Draft Grade: 6.2 – End of Roster / Practice Squad

Games Watched: vs Indiana (2021), vs Ohio State (2022), at Michigan (2022)

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