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Mitchell Tinsley’s Steadiness Counterbalances Agility Concerns Ahead Of 2023 NFL Draft

All the difference a year makes.

Wide receiver Mitchell Tinsley was with Penn State football for just one year, but he made his mark on the program. He was one of the team’s top pass catchers en route to its Rose Bowl victory, contributing 49 receiving yards and a touchdown in Pasadena. Now, Tinsley is getting ready for the NFL Draft.

Tinsley’s path to Power Five football wasn’t easy. Hailing from Lee’s Summit, Missouri, Tinsley went largely unnoticed by recruiters in his lone year of high school football. As a result, Tinsley enrolled at Hutchinson Community College and played JUCO football for two years.

Tinsley wasn’t a record-breaking player for Hutchinson, only catching 57 passes for 656 yards and four touchdowns across both seasons. However, he did well enough to earn a three-star ranking by 247 Sports and committed to Western Kentucky.

At Western Kentucky, Tinsley took some time to make an impact. In his first season, Tinsley caught 43 passes for 377 yards and four touchdowns, also logging reps on defense and special teams.

After that 2020 season, though, Tinsley took a massive leap with Western Kentucky. He recorded more than twice as many catches and more than three times as many yards and touchdowns, finishing the year with 87 catches, 1,402 yards, and 14 touchdowns.

In early December 2021, the receiver entered the transfer portal, eventually committing to Penn State on Christmas Eve.

With the Nittany Lions, Tinsley filled a hole in the wide receiver room left by first-round draft pick Jahan Dotson. The team’s newest wideout broke onto the scene quickly, catching a team-high seven passes for 84 yards and a touchdown in the season opener against Purdue.

Tinsley followed up the Purdue game with touchdown catches in three of his next four games.

In Penn State’s Rose Bowl showdown with Utah, Tinsley made one last big play for Penn State. His lone touchdown catch gave the Nittany Lions a 14-7 lead in the second quarter, as they went on to win 35-21.

Tinsley’s only season with Penn State was comparable to his first at Western Kentucky — he only finished the season with 51 catches for 577 yards and five touchdowns. It was a step down from his 2021 numbers with the Hilltoppers, but he arguably broke into a more competitive program all the same.

NFL Draft projections aren’t high on Tinsley right now. NFL analyst Lance Zierlein wrote that Tinsley “lacks top-end speed,” though, Zierlein noted that the wideout possessed “quality ball skills.”

Tinsley didn’t exactly help his case at February’s NFL Combine, either. His 40-yard dash time of 4.60 seconds wasn’t stunning, and some of the league’s more advanced stats ranked him as the 42nd-best wide receiver in the class, based upon combine performances.

Various mock drafts have Tinsley pinned as a late-round selection, but Tinsley may still have to wait until after the draft to find his professional home.

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About the Author

Joe Lister

Joe is a junior journalism major at Penn State and an associate editor at Onward State. He covers Penn State football and enjoys yelling on Twitter about Philadelphia/Penn State sports. If you want to find him, Joe's usually watching soccer with his shirt off or at the gym with his shirt on. Please send all positive affirmations and/or hate mail toward him on Twitter (iamjoelister) or via email ([email protected]).

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