If you’ve followed any of the 2021 NFL Draft coverage, then you know the love affair seemingly everyone has with Florida tight end Kyle Pitts. A potential top-five pick, Pitts is really the only tight end getting any attention. While there’s no doubt he’s the star of this year’s TE class, there are several other players at this position worthy of attention.
Tight end is always a difficult position for the average fan to assess. Not only do you have to weigh blocking vs. pass-catching, but you also have to account for the fact many college teams don’t feature TEs in their offenses. That leaves us focusing solely on pro day measurements or even single highlights when trying to evaluate many of these players.
We’ll do our best to cut through the noise and break down Sporting News’ top-10 TEs for the 2021 NFL Draft.
MORE NFL DRAFT: Complete 7-round mock | Top 100 big board
NFL Draft 2021 tight end rankings
1. Kyle Pitts, Florida
Pitts had a very good sophomore season (54 catches, 649 yards, five TDs), but he was an absolute monster as junior, catching 43 passes for 770 yards and 12 TDs in just eight games. He continued his dominance during his pro day, when he measured in at almost 6-6, 245 pounds and ran a 4.44 40-yard dash. Clearly, Pitts is a unique offensive weapon in the vein of Travis Kelce or George Kittle, and while he doesn’t have the blocking prowess of the latter, it might not matter. Pitts is going to be a top-10 pick — possibly top five — and likely star from Day 1.
2. Pat Freiermuth, Penn State
Freiermuth was a TD machine his first two years at Penn State, scoring eight times as a freshman and seven times as a sophomore, but a shoulder injury limited him to just four games and one score last year. The 6-5, 251-pound TE is known a solid blocker and reliable pass-catcher, and while he doesn’t have blazing speed (reportedly a 40 time in the 4.72 range), he should still be able to get open at a reasonable clip in the NFL. He figures to be a second-round pick, but the upside is there for him to outperform his draft position.
3. Brevin Jordan, Miami
Miami has a history of producing NFL tight ends, and Jordan seems to be next in line after a breakout 2020 that saw him catch 38 passes for 576 yards and seven TDs. His pro-day performance wasn’t overly impressive, as he measured in at under 6-3, 247 pounds and ran a 4.69 40-yard dash, but his versatility and blocking upside could still see him land in the second round. In time, he should develop into a solid all-around contributor.
4. Hunter Long, Boston College
Long was a big-play specialist in his first two seasons when he averaged 25.8 yards per catch (on just four receptions) and 18.2 yards per catch (28 catches), respectively. He became much more of a consistent target last year, when he caught 57 balls for 685 yards and five TDs. At just over 6-5, 254 pounds, Long has great size, and his 4.63 40-yard dash is decent enough, so if he can continue to develop his already solid blocking skills, Long could carve out a nice career. Expect him to go in the second or third round.
5. Tommy Tremble, Notre Dame
Tremble is more of a blocking TE, which you could probably tell from his 2020 stats (19 catches, 218 yards, no TDs), but after running a 4.59 40 during his pro day, there are some who believe Tremble has major upside in the NFL, be it as a traditional tight end or more of an H-back. The almost 6-4, 241 pounder has decent size and quickness and will be an intriguing third- or fourth-round prospect whose impact likely won’t be reflected in the box score.
6. Tre’ McKitty, Georgia
McKitty did little at Florida State (three seasons) and UGA (one season) in terms of stats (56 catches, 628 yards, three TDs in his 24 career games), but he was limited to just four games his senior year because of a knee injury. At a little over 6-4, 246 pounds, McKitty has good size, and with a 40 time in the 4.7-range, he has adequate speed. He’s a developmental prospect who will likely go in the mid-to-late rounds, but he has a chance to make an impact in a couple years.
7. Kenny Yeboah, Ole Miss
After four mostly nondescript seasons at Temple, Yeboah transferred to Ole Miss and broke out with 27 catches, 524 yards, and six TDs. That kind of big-play potential is sure to have scouts interested in the 6-4, 250-pound pass-catcher. His blocking still needs work, but Yeboah profiles as a mid-to-late-round prospect with a lot of upside.
8. Nick Eubanks, Michigan
Eubanks is another TE with little college production but plenty of physical tools. At 6-4, 245 pounds, Eubanks ran a 4.59 40 and showed decent blocking ability, so he’ll be another late-round project who could develop into a solid starter in the right situation.
9. Miller Forristall, Alabama
Yet another big, athletic TE who didn’t produce much (23 catches, 253 yards, TD last season), Forristall ran a 4.79 40-yard dash and measured in at 6-5, 241 pounds. He’s expected to be more of a blocking TE in the NFL, and he’ll likely be a late-round pick.
10. Quintin Morris, Bowling Green
A converted wide receiver, Morris measured in at just over 6-2, 251 pounds and ran a 4.58 40-yard dash. As you might imagine, blocking is an issue, but Morris is a great route runner with good hands, and he’s the type of player who could go at any point after Day 1 depending on which team thinks they can turn him into a matchup nightmare as a secondary tight end.