How A.J. Barner fits with the Seattle Seahawks

With the 121st pick in the NFL draft, the Seattle Seahawks selected tight end A.J. Barner.

Barner transferred to Michigan from Indiana ahead of the 2023 season and recorded 22 receptions, 249 yards and one touchdown. Obviously, the stats don’t jump off the page when looking at Barner, but his effect is felt deeper than the numbers.

He was asked to play as Michigan’s second tight end last year behind potential future first-round pick Colston Loveland, which limited his ability to affect the passing game. Still, Loveland showcased the ideal skill set for an NFL in-line tight end. He does a great job blocking, can get his hands on people in space and is a solid receiving threat.

The modern NFL has been trending toward tight ends who fit the “mismatch” label, and that isn’t Barner. Instead, Seattle is getting a traditional grinder who can work out of two-tight end sets and contribute in the run game just as much as the passing game. The Seahawks already have a likely starting TE: Noah Fant. However, he is more of a receiver than a true Y.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Barner instantly come in as the better blocker and earn some snaps with his hand in the dirt. Seattle has a great running back duo of Kenneth Walker and Zach Charbonnet, so this pick could be an attempt from the Seahawks staff to establish the ability to run off-tackle with more success.

Last year, Seattle spent a fifth-round pick on Michigan center Olu Oluwatimi. Like Barner, Oluwatimi was a transfer who played with the Wolverines for just one season but is expected to start next season. It’s neat to see two former Wolverines who never played on the same team yet shared so many teammates and coaches end up on the same NFL roster.

Story originally appeared on Wolverines Wire