2021 NFL Draft – TE Preview

1a and 1b

Pat Freiermuth – Penn State, JR

We have Freiermuth ranked as TE1, but by the slimmest margin for any position in this draft class. Both Freiermuth and Kyle Pitts make an extremely strong case to be taken in the top 10 picks. Freiermuth, who also goes by the nickname “Baby Gronk”, is the best combo tight end in the class and one of the best run blocking tight ends to ever play college football. He plays with elite toughness and poise, but also is polished and possesses an extremely high football IQ. Through 2 seasons he is already the school leader in touchdown receptions by a tight end (15), which were evenly dispersed in each year. Penn State has lined him up all over the field, even split out as a WR. His route running is crisp, his hands are soft, and his feet are quick…traits that are rare for a college tight end. To point out any flaws as a college tight end would be reckless.

Kyle Pitts – Florida, JR

Pitts is truly an enigma at TE for the Gators. The consensus #1 TE in this class is certainly the flashier option, however, doesn’t have the production Freiermuth has. Although he is also versatile, it is in a much different way. Freiermuth is versatile in a way like George Kittle where Pitts is more of a Darren Waller comparison. Pitts can spread all over the field and is a true receiving tight end. He can fit in the slot or can come off the line…regardless where he starts, he is nearly impossible to guard. He is an extremely smart route runner who has a knack of finding space in zone coverage. He has an extremely high motor, especially as a blocker, but is not as gifted blocking as he is receiving. Pitts would be an awesome option for a pass heavy offense like the Saints or Rams. Through just four games Pitts has scored 7 touchdowns, which has put him in contention for being the first TE off the board in 2021.

Shadowed by Greatness

Brevin Jordan Miami, JR

Outside the top 2 studs, Jordan finds himself in an interesting place. He would probably rank as the top prospect in most classes, however, is overshadowed by two of the best prospects we have ever seen. He is extremely gifted with amazing size and speed and hits the seam extra hard for a tight end. He has been a matchup nightmare at Miami. His production has been weak, but he has typically found himself in horrible situations as Miami has had trouble finding a QB. This season he has made that his case as he has recorded 3 TDs through 4 games with the best QB Miami has had in years, D’eriq King. Jordan certainly has the raw skillset to be taken in the top 2 rounds.

Charlie Kolar Iowa State, JR

Kolar is another great receiving tight end in this class, and with his 6’6” 260 lb frame he had a huge 2019 season and finished with 51 receptions for 697 yards and 7 touchdowns. He became Iowa State’s first AP All-American since 1996. He is a weaker blocker than most, but his ball skills and route running abilities are what separates him from the rest of the class. Just like Jordan, he should be selected in the first 2 rounds.  

Other Options

Hunter Long – Boston College, Nick Eubanks – Michigan, Luke Farrell – Ohio State

This class is rather top heavy and there really is not much top 64 talent outside of the four mentioned above, however, there are plenty of “projects” that could become NFL starters. Tight end is one of the slowest positions in terms of development in the NFL, so typically a few names will fall through the cracks. Teams who are looking to avoid paying a premium can take a shot of a developmental TE like Long, Eubanks or Farrell.

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