Breakdowns

Top 15 Tight End Prospects for the 2021 NFL Draft

Florida’s Kyle Pitts is the only tight end projected to be a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, but there are plenty of other prospects that could hear their names called in later rounds. Here are the 33rd Team’s top 15 tight end prospects:

 

1. Kyle Pitts, Florida, 6-6, 246

Pitts projects as an early first-round pick with the only limitation being positional value within the first round. If a team is comfortable drafting a TE in the top 10, Pitts is the type of weapon that teams would hope for. He is an athletic freak at the position and is going to be a mismatch against defenders the moment he steps onto an NFL field. Pitts projects to play the role of a big WR that gets flexed out with some moderate usage attached to the line early on in his career. With added size and work on blocking, Pitts should be capable of improving his blocking and will be able to be used in more obvious run downs/in-line blocking situations.

  • Best Game – @Ole Miss (9/26/2020)

  • Worst Game – @Texas A&M (10/10/2020)

  • Best Trait – Catch radius

  • Key Stats – Mackey Award winner, All-time leader in TE receiving yards at UF

  • Starts/Games – 20/32

  • Pro Comparison – Darren Waller

 

2. Hunter Long, Boston College, 6-5, 254

Long is an athletic, big-bodied TE that can be worked into nearly any system in the NFL. He is good enough right now to be a starter, but he would thrive in a TE2 setting to learn from and grow under a more developed, veteran player (like Dallas Goedert has done in Philadelphia). He is an impressive athlete for his size and shows high effort on blocks, making him arguably the most well-rounded tight end in the class.

  • Best Game – @Virginia (12/5/2020)

  • Worst Game – Louisville (11/28/2020)

  • Best Trait – Athleticism

  • Key Stats – Led all NCAA tight ends in receiving yards (685) and receptions (57) in 2020

  • Starts/Games – 22/36

  • Pro Comparison – Cam Brate

 

3. Brevin Jordan, Miami, 6-3, 245

Brevin Jordan is average to slightly above average in most physical categories, but can contribute to an NFL team as someone who can find soft spots in the defense’s coverage on short to moderate crossing routes. Can be used in versatile formations and put in motion to find better matchups against the defense. He provides more value to teams by showing good effort in blocking, and that value will lead to him being an early-to mid-round selection.

  • Best Game – North Carolina (12/12/2020)

  • Worst Game – @Virginia Tech (11/14/2020)

  • Best Trait – Versatility

  • Key Stats – Led all NCAA Tight Ends in yards after contact (160)

  • Starts/Games – 29/30

  • Pro Comparison – Jonnu Smith

 

4. Pat Freiermuth, Penn State, 6-40, 260

Played in a pro-style offense that utilized him in a multitude of ways. Used in a Travis Kelce-type role, he attached to the line, flexed out to receiver, and was put in motion to gain leverage on defenders. Freiermuth projects to fill a similar role at the next level, but doesn’t display the toughness and aggressiveness that is required to excel in that type of role. Questionable top speed, but quick feet and quickness out of his breaks allows him to create space and get open. Can be an immediate contributor and a spot-starter based on his ability and understanding of pro-style offensive concepts

  • Best Game – @Nebraska (11/14/2020)

  • Worst Game – Ohio State (10/31/2020)

  • Best Trait – footwork

  • Key Stats – Owns the PSU career record for TDs by a TE (16) and caught a pass in 29 straight games, a PSU record for tight ends

  • Starts/Games – 26/30

  • Pro Comparison – Eric Ebron

 

5. Tommy Tremble, Notre Dame, 6-4, 248

Long, slender frame with strong hands allows him to play more like a receiver than a TE. Smooth route-running, speed, and quickness allow him to easily create separation against defenders. Shows toughness after the catch and fights for extra yards after contact. Might have the best footwork of any TE in this class. Quality effort and technique in run blocking rounds out his game and makes him an impressive prospect.

  • Best Game – South Florida (9/19/2020)

  • Worst Game – @Pittsburgh (10/24/2020)

  • Best Trait – Route running

  • Key Stats – Averaged over 10 YPC in 2020 (11.5)

  • Starts/Games – 17/25

  • Pro Comparison – Noah Fant

 

6. Tony Poljan, Virginia, 6-7, 265

The biggest player at his position in this class, Poljan is an incredibly long and tall player that will no doubt blow away all average combine body measurements for tight ends. Played quarterback for Central Michigan in his first two years of college. Transitioned to tight end his junior year and transferred to UVA for his senior year. Shows good speed for his size when he strides out, but has to take intentionally short strides in some of the short-stemmed routes in the route tree. The drawback of being so big is that his long legs and high center of gravity make him easier to tackle. He appears clunky and lost at times when attempting to block and climb to the second level, but shows a willingness to block that coaches can work with.

  • Best Game – Abilene Christian (11/21/2020)

  • Worst Game – Louisville (11/14/2020)

  • Best Trait – Size

  • Key Stats – Left UVA with 6 career receiving TDs after only on year, 8th on the all time career TDs list for TEs

  • Starts/Games – 25/47

  • Pro Comparison – Kyle Rudolph

 

7. Tre McKitty, Georgia, 6-4, 247

McKitty is another talented player who is a victim of underutilization in his college offense. A good frame, physicality, and understanding of how to set defenders up before his break helps him create separation. His speed and quickness are concerning, making him very reminiscent of the prototypical 1990s TEs. Shows strength and effort in the run game. Not a great run-blocker, but adequate. McKitty has the biggest recorded hand size so far in this class and he puts them on full display as he regularly makes acrobatic one-handed catches when competing for the ball. He is hard to bring down after the catch and fights for extra yardage. Look for McKitty to come in as someone’s TE2 and work on developing his game.

  • Best Game – @South Carolina (11/28/2020)

  • Worst Game – Mississippi State (11/21/2020)

  • Best Trait – Hands

  • Key Stats – His best season came in 2018 with FSU, where he recorded 26 receptions for 256 yards and 2 touchdowns

  • Starts/Games – 26/42

  • Pro Comparison – T.J. Hockenson

 

8. John Bates, Boise State, 6-5, 254

Good build with thick lowers and long arms, still has room to add muscle on uppers. Good athlete for his size, shows quickness and evasiveness on run after the catch. Good technique and footwork in his blocking. Could fight for playing time sooner than most of the TEs in this class due to the well-rounded nature of his game.

  • Best Game – Utah State (10/22/2020)

  • Worst Game – Colorado State (11/12/2020)

  • Best Trait – Run after catch

  • Key Stats – Averaged 12.6 YPC in his career at BSU

  • Starts/Games – 28/46

  • Pro Comparison – Logan Thomas

 

9. Kenny Yeboah, Ole Miss, 6-3, 247

Yeboah will be introduced to an NFL offense and their passing concepts quickly, but the rest of the playbook will have to take some time. He projects to be a rotational player that can help a team create mismatches in the passing game, but his blocking is suspect and he shouldn’t be expected to hold his own against professional EDGE players until he develops more as a blocker.

  • Best Game – Alabama (10/10/2020)

  • Worst Game – Mississippi State (11/28/2020)

  • Best Trait – Speed

  • Key Stats – Finished 2nd in receptions (27) and receiving yards (524) for Ole Miss in 2020

  • Starts/Games – 19/46

  • Pro Comparison – Evan Engram

 

10. Matt Bushman, BYU, 6-5, 240

If Bushman can get back to his 2019 form, he might be the steal of this TE class. He boasts a solid frame with thick lowers without sacrificing any athletic ability. Bushman displays great body control and soft hands as a receiver while being a capable blocker in the run game. He shows great flexibility, balance, and run after the catch as he bounces off weak tacklers. Bushman is a very solid pro prospect that can step up into a producing role for a team if healthy and given the opportunity.

  • Best Game – Boise State (10/19/2019)

  • Worst Game – Southern California (9/14/2019)

  • Best Trait – Body control

  • Key Stats – Did not play in 2020 due to injury, but led team in receiving yards in 2019 (688 yards)

  • Starts/Games – 27/39

  • Pro Comparison – Travis Kelce

 

11. Noah Gray, Duke, 6-3, 240

Gray’s frame is a major question mark, as he is built like a receiver that simply outgrew the position. With that said, his athleticism is by far his best asset. He is a real threat in the passing game with quickness off the line and above-average speed to separate from defenders. Length is an issue, with his arms being significantly shorter than the combine average. Still, his positives will be enough for a team to take a late-round flyer on him with the potential for him to become a weapon in the passing game.

  • Best Game – Virginia Tech (10/3/2020)

  • Worst Game – North Carolina (11/7/2020)

  • Best Trait – Athleticism

  • Key Stats – No. 1 on Duke’s all-time career receptions for TEs list

  • Starts/Games – 21/48

  • Pro Comparison – Jacob Hollister

 

12. Quintin Morris, Bowling Green, 6-2, 251

Short, stocky player with thick lowers. Has decent short speed and uses his height to create leverage while blocking. Despite size limitations, he shows versatility in where he can be used in an offense. Soft hands helped him become one of the most reliable targets on his team. Stiff player that struggles to turn and face the passer on out-breaking routes. Struggles to get off the line when being pressed, which is a major question mark for someone with his frame. Struggles to drive his feet after contact.

  • Best Game – @Akron (12/5/2020)

  • Worst Game – Kent State (11/10/2020)

  • Best Trait – Hands

  • Key Stats – Led BGSU in catches (20) and receiving yards (248) in 2020

  • Starts/Games – 28/40

  • Pro Comparison – Irv Smith

 

13. Kylen Granson, SMU, 6-2, 242

Built like a stocky slot receiver, isn’t built to play a standard TE role in the NFL. If teams can get creative and play him at H-back or FB, he can be a useful weapon for NFL teams. Played some FB for SMU, but not in the traditional downhill blocking sense. Can be utilized at FB if asked to lead-block on the outside edges or by running routes out of the backfield. An interesting athlete, but does not truly fill a traditional TE need. He’ll be drafted late as an offensive weapon-type player.

  • Best Game – @Temple (11/7/2020)

  • Worst Game – @Texas State (9/5/2020)

  • Best Trait – Athleticism

  • Key Stats – Led SMU with 5 TDs, made 1st team All-AAC

  • Starts/Games – 23/41

  • Pro Comparison – Trey Burton

 

14. Cary Angeline, N.C. State, 6-7, 250

One of the biggest players at his position in this draft, but doesn’t have the physicality that teams would hope for in a prospect of this size.Has decent straight-line speed but doesn’t show quickness or twitch in his routes. Soft hands and capable ball skills show, but getting open is going to be tough for him at the next level. Angeline becomes a target in the passing game almost exclusively on go routes and in the red zone. Poor vision, footwork and balance in his blocking makes him rely almost exclusively on his size to contain defenders.

  • Best Game – @Syracuse (11/28/2020)

  • Worst Game – @North Carolina (10/24/2020)

  • Best Trait – Size

  • Key Stats – Led NCSU in TD catches in 2020 with 5

  • Starts/Games – 8/23

  • Pro Comparison – Ryan Griffin

 

15. Luke Farrell, Ohio State, 6-6, 258

Farrell has elite size for a tight end, but nearly no production in his time at OSU. His production on tape is almost exclusively blocking, which he has proven to be a good enough blocker for the next level. While he does not appear to be an elite athlete from his limited tape, he shows the ability to get open and settle into the spaces in zone defense. His size and football intelligence will interest teams. His pro day will go a long way in deciding his draftability, because the lack of production will need an explanation to give him a draftable grade.

  • Best Game – Clemson (1/1/2021)

  • Worst Game – Indiana (11/21/2020)

  • Best Trait – Size

  • Key Stats – Most productive season came in 2018 with 20 receptions for 205 yards and 1 TD

  • Starts/Games – 24/36

  • Pro Comparison – Tyler Higbee

Scroll to the Top