Welcome to the next in the series of positional deep dives into the top talents entering the 2021 NFL Draft. Today, Rich takes a look at the Tight End position, fast becoming one of the most critical positions on an NFL roster. From a fantasy football perspective, the Tight End position is shallow and some of these guys could redress the balance moving forward.
Let’s see which Tight Ends NFL franchises may target in the First Round of the 2021 NFL Draft. 2020 was a draft lacking in top end talent at the Tight End position but this may have some of the best start power at the position in the last ten years.
Kyle Pitts, Florida
Production: 36 receptions, 641 yards, 11TDs (7 games)
The hype surrounding Kyle Pitts is real. He may be the most hyped college TE of the last 10 years. He is an absolute physical freak, a wide receiver in a tight end’s body. In 2019 Pitts didn’t qualify for the John Mackey Award, given to the nation’s top TE, as he didn’t contribute enough in the blocking game. During the offseason, he dedicated himself to blocking and is now more of a complete prospect. He is a willing and able blocker, but is never going to be a true dual-threat TE because of how much he contributes in the passing game. Good news for your fantasy team!
Pitts is a natural receiver who uses his huge frame to outmuscle and out position defenders to ensure he comes down with the ball. His athleticism is off the charts and he will show out at this year’s combine. One small criticism is on his route running, which can be slightly lazy and not as sharp as it could be. This is because he relies on his frame to create separation. If Pitts can improve his route running, he may be the complete receiving tight end in the NFL.
Pat Freiermuth, Penn State
Production: 23 receptions, 310 yards, 1 TD (4 games)
In a normal year, Freiermuth would be talked about as the leading TE prospect. He has everything you could want from a dual-threat TE. He is a strong and willing blocker, both inline and on pulls/traps.
Freiermuth is a flexible piece in the passing game: able to line up outside and win one on one vs line-backers and corners, or release inline in more traditional sets. He is an impressive, fluid athlete but just lacks the truly elite athleticism. In terms of route running, he is good but not explosive out of his cuts, and tends to win based on the scheme, or utilising his size. He does possess strong subtleties to his route running when releasing, including an excellent block and release that will be a strong asset at the next level.
He hasn’t (and won’t) receive the hype of other TE prospects in this class but Freiermuth is a pro-ready player who will contribute at the next level immediately.
Brevin Jordan, Miami
Production: 30 receptions, 480 yards, 5 TDs (7 games)
A fantastic athlete, Jordan projects more as a move TE at the next level. He possesses elite athleticism and can cause problems down the seam, or separated out wide. Where Jordan excels is with the ball in his hands. He has excellent instincts for space and uses this with his elite athleticism to pile up yards after the catch. In 2019 Jordan averaged 9.3 yards after the catch per reception. As a blocker Jordan is willing but really lacks technique and ability. He will likely be utilised almost exclusively as a receiver in the Pros.
Whilst being a fantastic athlete, Jordan does not use this in his route running. Instead, he relies on being schemed into open space, where his ability after the catch takes over. If Jordan is going to make the most of his abilities at the next level, he will need to refine his technique as he can’t just rely on his athleticism in the NFL. The upside for Jordan is clear, but he is going to take some work and refinement to get there.
Other names to look out for:
Charlie Kolar, Iowa State
Hunter Long, Boston College
Nick Eubanks, Michigan
Jake Ferguson, Wisconsin
The @5yardcollege team hopes to have more positional breakdowns with you in the coming weeks. By the time April comes around, you’ll have a clear idea of who you want your team to go out and get on Day One of the 2021 NFL Draft. As a fantasy team owner, your big board will be set for those rookie drafts as well.
Saturdays are for rushing, too!