Florida’s Kyle Pitts is the best tight end in the 2021 NFL Draft. This isn’t a hot take. Pitts is one of the best tight end prospects we’ve ever seen. This isn’t hyperbole. 31 teams won’t be leaving the draft with Pitts, though. As a result, the focus is naturally beginning to shift to the next tier of TEs.
Pro Football Network Chief Draft Analyst Tony Pauline currently has 43 tight ends ranked on his big board. When asked by Pro Football Network’s Chief NFL analyst Trey Wingo about the prospects behind Pitts, though, he was less than complimentary, stating: “it kind of falls off a cliff after that.”
You can watch Pauline discuss this in the clip above. Be sure to join PFN Chief NFL Analyst Trey Wingo and Chief Draft Analyst Tony Pauline every week on Draft Insiders as they break down all you need to know heading into the 2021 NFL Draft. Subscribe to our PFN YouTube Channel and hit the notifications icon so you can tune in live every Wednesday at 9 PM ET.
Who will be TE2?
Pauline has three tight ends with Day 2 grades on his big board. After Pitts, Pauline believes that tight end selected second in the 2021 NFL Draft will be one of those players. “Maybe Pat Freiermuth from Penn State in the mid-part of Round 2. Tommy Tremble from Notre Dame is moving up draft boards, but he’s a third-round pick. Brevin Jordan of Miami of Florida — again, (he’s a) really good athlete with high upside, but he’s a third-round pick.”
On Freiermuth, Pauline wrote in his scouting report, “Freiermuth was a consistent tight end for Penn State the past three seasons and has an NFL-ready game. He must improve his strength as a blocker and may never be a great downfield threat at the position, but Freiermuth is reliable in all aspects of his position.” Freiermuth is currently 64th on Pauline’s big board.
Tommy Tremble, who is currently the 81st-ranked prospect on Pauline’s big board, has shown a lot of potential in his college career. Pauline noted: “Tremble displayed flashes of being a complete tight end last season, dominating as a blocker and coming up with big plays as a pass catcher. He’s a tough, athletic, and grind-it-out tight end, with a large upside, but he may need time before he’s truly ready to be a starter at the next level.”
Brevin Jordan rounds out Pauline’s second tier. The Miami tight end is currently ranked 89th on Pauline’s big board. Pauline believes, “Jordan is an athletic pass-catching tight end who holds his own as a blocker and has shown consistent development in his game. Well-versed in all areas of the position, Jordan should only get better with time and can develop into a No. 1 tight end at the next level.”
Why is it a disappointing 2021 NFL Draft class for tight ends?
Pauline picked out two reasons why there aren’t as many high-level tight end prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft.
“I think two things happened that really hurt the tight end class this year. Number one — players who scouts before the season thought were middle-round picks (such as) Noah Gray of Duke, Nick Eubanks of Michigan, Tony Poljan of Virginia by way of Central Michigan — these guys were given middle-round grades. But they really didn’t play up to expectations. Their games fell, and now they’re going to be late-rounders or maybe even free agents.
The other thing that happened is that there were a surprising number of underclassmen prospects who decided to bypass the draft and go back to school: Jalen Wydermyer of Texas A&M, who would have been a top-45 pick, Jake Ferguson of Wisconsin, Cade Otton of Washington, Charlie Kolar of Iowa State. These are all guys who, had they entered this year’s draft, would have fit into that third or fourth-round area. They would have been guys who would have started off as TE2s but are potential starting tight ends down the road in the NFL. They’re all going back to school, which really dissipated and drained the talent pool at that position.”
How high could Kyle Pitts be taken?
The first three picks of the 2021 NFL Draft look as if they’re going to be quarterbacks. Consequently, the new narrative is that “the draft starts at pick four.” The Atlanta Falcons currently hold that pick. With a new coaching staff, a new general manager, and an aging quarterback, they continue to be linked to a QB. There’s a growing belief that they could be interested in Pitts, though.
Furthermore, Wingo has continued to hear superlatives about Pitts:
“I was on a call with a lot of former NFL coaches, and GMs and Pitts was raved about. I get it – historically, taking a tight end that high in the draft has not panned out. We’re not talking about guys in the past. We’re talking about a guy who couldn’t run a straight line and still blazed his (40-yard dash) time. You saw the numbers he put up. He’s a wide receiver in a tight end’s body.”
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