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Drew Painter Scouting Report | James Madison TE | 2023 NFL Draft

Drew Painter is a 6-foot-4, 247 Tight End prospect from James Madison University.
Drew Painter is a 6-foot-4, 247 Tight End prospect from James Madison University.

Player Bio

Drew Painter is a 6-foot-4, 247 Tight End prospect from James Madison University.

Painter began his football career at Hershey High School in his hometown of Hershey, PA. He played all four seasons at the varsity level, starting on both sides of the ball throughout his time at Hershey.

As a junior, Painter collected 34 receptions, 414 yards, and two touchdowns while also tallying 5.5 sacks at Defensive End. He earned Second Team All-Mid-Penn Keystone Conference for his performance on the season and began garnering attention from Division I college coaches.

Painter received scholarship offers from Youngstown State, Army, William & Mary, Towson, Richmond, James Madison, UCF, Colgate, Robert Morris, Fordham, Buffalo, Elon, and New Hampshire before his senior season. Two weeks before the start of the season, Painter committed to James Madison and stuck with his commitment throughout the fall. Unfortunately, Painter missed most of his senior season with a foot injury but still signed with James Madison during the early signing period in December 2017.

Painter arrived at James Madison in 2018 and contributed immediately on defense and special teams. He appeared in 13 games, tallying two tackles, one interception, and one pass deflection.

As a sophomore in 2019, Painter transitioned from defensive end to tight end during spring camp and played in all 16 games for James Madison in a 14-2 campaign. Painter recorded four receptions, 57 yards, and one touchdown, which came on an 11-yard reception in the second round of the FCS playoffs against New Hampshire. The Dukes fell short of claiming their third FCS national championship in program history, losing to North Dakota State in the finals.

James Madison had its 2020 season canceled due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, forcing the Dukes to play a five-game season in the Spring of 2021. Painter started in all five regular season games, helping James Madison finish the regular season with a 5-0 record. The Dukes qualified for the FCS playoffs for the sixth-straight season and advanced to the Semifinals before getting eliminated by Sam Houston State. Painter appeared in seven of eight games for the Dukes, serving primarily as a blocking tight end and posting two receptions and 22 yards.

Painter earned an additional year of eligibility from the 2020 season cancellation, making him a redshirt junior during the 2021 season. He appeared in 12 of 14 games, collecting four receptions for 57 yards in James Madison’s final season at the FCS level. The Dukes accumulated a 12-2 record, reached the FCS playoffs for the seventh year in a row, and were defeated by North Dakota State once again. Still, the Dukes finished the season ranked third in the final FCS rankings and set themselves up for a successful first season in the FBS in 2022.

Painter returned to James Madison for his final collegiate season in 2022 and had the best statistical season of his career. Painter started in all 11 games during an 8-3 campaign, which saw the Dukes finish with the best overall record in the Sun Belt in their first season at the FBS level. Painter tallied 19 receptions, 221 yards, and two touchdowns, earning Honorable Mention All-Sun Belt honors for the first time.

Painter was a top academic student-athlete throughout his time at James Madison. He was named to the JMU Athletic Director’s Scholar-Athlete list NINE times, won the JMU Highest GPA Award twice, and earned membership to the National Football Foundation Hampshire Honor Society after the 2022 season.

Overall, Painter made 59 appearances (19 starts) for the Dukes and recorded 29 receptions, 357 yards, and three touchdowns over five seasons at James Madison.

Scouting Report

Drew Painter is a primary blocking tight end with proficient toughness and play strength to sustain/finish blocks. He also possesses quality ball skills and above-average route-running ability to become a decent contributor in the passing game at the next level.

At 6-foot-4, 247 pounds, Painter has ideal size for the tight end position. He boasts a well-developed, athletic build, long arms, and a sturdy lower half. Painter boasts intriguing athletic upside and functional mobility given his size; He ran a 4.82 40-yard dash and 4.4 shuttle while recording a 35-inch vertical at James Madison’s Pro Day in March

Painter is an effective, tireless in-line blocker from multiple alignments. Whether he is attached to the line of scrimmage in unbalanced formations, lined up in the backfield as a lead-blocking fullback, or carrying out a wham block as an H-back, he takes pride in doing the dirty work to spring explosive plays. He displays his passion for football on every snap and enjoys driving his opponents into the ground to set a physical tone.

Although his college stats appear underwhelming, Painter is a dependable pass-catcher with soft hands, an adequate route tree, and the ability to compete at the highest point for contested catches. He is a better short-range receiver than a vertical threat but can sneak behind defenses to create big plays on play-action passes designed to get tight ends in open space. Given his functional athleticism, Painter is a smooth & physical runner with the ball in his hands. He absorbs contact well to bounce off tackles and fight for extra yardage to move the chains.

Painter is not the quickest or most sudden tight end in the class, which creates inconsistencies in his ability to create separation against man coverage. However, his strong hands and physical playstyle enable him to box out defenders to come up with the ball amidst tight coverage.

Painter is a multi-dimensional tight end who can only impact the game in more ways than one. He contributed on special teams for several years at James Madison and even spent time at defensive end during his freshman season, proving that he will do whatever is necessary to help his team succeed.

Painter’s versatility, special teams acumen, experience, and football intelligence should help him garner attention from multiple NFL organizations needing depth at the tight end position. Whether he is drafted or not, expect Painter to compete for an NFL roster spot or practice squad spot in training camp. 

Draft Projection

Early 7th-Priority Undrafted Free Agent


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