The weakest position represented in the 2020 NFL Draft was tight end. The caliber of player available at the position was poor, and that is me being nice. We didn’t see a tight end selected until the Chicago Bears took Notre Dame’s Cole Kmet in the middle of the second round with the 43rd selection. After that, we didn’t see another tight end come off the board until the New England Patriots selected UCLA’s Devin Asiasi with the 91st pick. In total, we saw 12 tight ends selected in the entire 2020 NFL Draft, which is a 25 percent decrease from the 16 tight ends selected in 2019. The good news is that the 2021 NFL Draft tight end class is absolutely loaded.
There are three players in the 2021 group that are equal or better talents than the above mentioned Kmet. The NFL is starved for talent at tight end, as the position’s stars are slowly fading. The most well-known tight end in the league is Rob Gronkowski, who recently came out of retirement and joined his buddy Tom Brady in Tampa Bay. Other than Gronkowski, Travis Kelce (Chiefs), Zach Ertz (Eagles), George Kittle (49ers) and Mark Andrews (Ravens) are the best the NFL has to offer. The 2021 tight end class offers sensational talent and will likely produce the next great player at the position.
2021 NFL Draft tight end class
Pat Freiermuth, Penn State (6’5″, 259 pounds)
NFL Comparison: Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The prize of the group is Penn State’s marvelous prospect Pat Freiermuth. Freiermuth busted onto the scene in 2019 with a highly productive season for the Nittany Lions. Also dubbed “Baby Gronk” in the draft community, Freiermuth hauled in 43 receptions for 507 yards and seven touchdowns.
Freiermuth is a strong-handed, reliable pass-catcher who possesses appealing size and jaw-dropping athleticism. His ability to create mismatches paired with the damage he can do in the red zone makes him a potential future superstar. When you watch tape on him, Freiermuth consistently showcases the ability to win the contested catch. What makes him even more appealing is his ability to block. He is among the best blocking players at the position, which increases his value in a modern-day NFL that is littered with game-changing pass-rushers. There is no doubt that Freiermuth is the early odds-on-favorite to win the 2020 John Mackey award.
Freiermuth is probably the most exciting tight end prospect we have seen since OJ Howard in 2017. In a high-scoring NFL, he offers the potential to be a touchdown machine, and because of this, he has the potential to be a top-15 selection in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Brevin Jordan, Miami (6’3″, 245 pounds)
NFL Comparison: Evan Engram, New York Giants
In 2017, Miami Hurricanes’ Brevin Jordan was the top high school tight end in America. He ultimately chose the “U” over the likes of Michigan and USC. In 2019, his production was quite pedestrian, as he hauled in 35 passes for 495 yards and two touchdowns. While these stats are far from impressive, we have to remember the poor quarterback play he was paired with, which directly impacted his production.
The Miami Hurricanes have been one of the most successful programs in all of college football when it comes to producing NFL tight ends. Over the years, they have produced quality players at the position such as Jeremy Shockey, Greg Olsen, Jimmy Graham, and David Njoku. Could the ultra-talented Brevin Jordan be the next good one?
Jordan possesses an enticing blend of size, speed, and athleticism. He has excellent receiving skills and can stretch the middle of the field. He has the look and athletic profile of the prototypical NFL tight end, so there is little doubt he will turn heads at the 2021 NFL Scouting Combine. One thing you consistently see when you watch tape on Jordan is his willingness to fight for the football. Like Freiermuth, Jordan offers additional value with his ability to block. Former Hurricanes’ offensive coordinator Greg Enos called Jordan “dominant” when the ball is in his hands.
When the dust settles, Jordan will be a surefire first-round selection in the 2021 NFL Draft. His long, athletic frame will allow him to create mismatches all over the field. General managers will fall in love with Jordan’s athletic profile and potential to flourish in a pass-heavy offense.
Kyle Pitts, Florida (6’6″, 239 pounds)
NFL Comparison: Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders
University of Florida tight end Kyle Pitts presents unmatched athleticism at the position. During the 2019 season, he was among the most productive tight ends in college football, hauling in 54 passes for 649 receiving yards and five touchdowns.
Out of all the top 2021 tight end prospects, Pitts plays with the best quarterback, as Florida quarterback Kyle Trask is an ascending prospect with Day 2 draft potential in his own right. When you watch game tape on Pitts, you will be reminded of Las Vegas Raiders’ tight end Darren Waller. Pitts utilizes his frame and length to box out defenders. He is uber fast and moves like a wide receiver, getting in and out of his breaks exceptionally well. The tougher the competition, the better Pitts played, with his best performance of 2019 coming against the national champion LSU Tigers.
Unlike Freiermuth and Jordan, however, Pitts won’t give much as a blocker, which hurts his draft stock a tad. When it comes to the 2021 NFL Draft, Kyle Pitts is a fringe first-round player. He will be a “move” tight end at the next level, utilizing his athleticism and ability to threaten the seam. If he makes it out of Day 1, it won’t be long on Day 2 before his name is called.
Other 2021 tight end prospects to monitor
- Charlie Kolar, Iowa State (6’6″, 252 pounds)
- Brant Kuithe, Utah (6’2″, 235 pounds)
- Kylen Granson, SMU (6’3″, 235 pounds)
- Briley Moore, Northern Iowa (6’4″, 249 pounds)
- Miller Forristall, Alabama (6”5″, 243 pounds)
- Nick Eubanks, Michigan (6’5″, 256 pounds)
- Matt Bushman, BYU (6’5″, 245 pounds)
- Jake Ferguson, Wisconsin (6’5″, 246 pounds)