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Ranking The Tight Ends in The 2021 NFL Draft

NCAA Football: SEC Championship-Alabama at Florida Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL draft is right around the corner and you can’t turn around without bumping into a big board or a mock draft. The excitement around the NFL is palpable, and no more evident than within the Jets fanbase. It’s our opportunity to get better. Over the coming weeks I’ll be looking to release my personal positional rankings for certain groups. I haven’t done this for a while, and it’s based purely on what I see with a small sprinkling of scheme fit for the Jets.

1) Kyle Pitts

I don’t think this will surprise anyone, Kyle Pitts is an absolute stud. He finished 2020 with 12 touchdowns and showed a knack for gaining separation against some of the best corners in college football. He has the catch radius of a tight end with the athleticism and sink of a wide receiver, he’s going to be a matchup nightmare for defensive coordinators for the next 10 years. Lets not forget that Pitts is just 20 years old and will get bigger and stronger in an NFL weight program, he made strides with his run-blocking in 2020 but you’re not drafting him for that, you’re drafting him to be a difference maker and that’s exactly what you’re going to get.

2) Pat Freiermuth

Freiermuth is the clear #2 tight end in this draft for me. At 6’5 and 260lb’s he has the prototypical size you’d look for. He finished with just 1 TD in 2020 compared to 7 in 2019 and 8 in 2020. Pat is another player that doesn’t struggle to separate and even if he doesn’t gain that gap he wins 66% of contested catches. He’s a big bodied TE who imposes his will in both the pass and run game, he’s not the fastest TE in the class but he’s forced 12 missed tackles on 66 catches, usually by just running through people.

3) Tommy Tremble

Tremble is an interesting one as he’ll likely see a lot of time at FB as a move blocker, he is elite in terms of his run blocking, probably the best run blocker in college football. He is basically a younger version of Kyle Juszczyk, and while he wasn’t used extensively in the passing game at Notre Dame, largely thanks to the emergence of rookie Michael Mayer, he has safe hands and wins 80% of contested catches. He has speed, he has explosion, he just needs to land in the right system, the Jets would make a lot of sense.

4) Brevin Jordan

Jordan is a player who does most of his damage after the catch, which is why he’d work well in a spread horizontal system that we could see with the Jets. Jordan had his most productive season in Miami in 2020, catching 38 passes for 576 yards and 7 touchdowns. If you want to get the best out of Jordan you run him across on drag routes and let him go to work. He had 9.3 yards after the catch per reception which is an elite number, he won’t beat people deep and he only comes down with 25% of his contested catches, so he needs to be used correctly to get the best out of him. Jets are an ideal landing spot.

5) Hunter Long

Hunter Long has your ideal tight end skills in terms of his catching ability, he’s quicker than you’d think and he plays with good intelligence, knowing when to work back to the QB or sit down in zones. He’s not going to blow you away with his athleticism, but he will give 100% on every snap, whether that’s catching the football or blocking on the outside. He’s a productive college TE that projects well to the next level, he had 685 yards and 5 touchdowns in 2020.

6) Briley Moore

I didn’t know a thing about Moore before he transferred to Kansas State for 2020, he spent the majority of his college career at Northern Iowa. I have Moore here for two reasons, he started to scratch the surface of his receiving ability in 2020 bring in 22 passes for 228 yards and three touchdowns, and he’s one of the best run-blockers at the position. He enjoyed an excellent pro-day where he tested in the 91st percentile on the bench and the 91st percentile on the vertical. He has untapped potential, but the speed and explosiveness to get separation at any level.

7) Kylen Granson

I have Granson here because I see him more as a wide receiver than a tight end. He had excellent production at SMU, but the majority of his work came in the slot. For me he can work in a H-back role, but he’ll get blown away the majority of the time in the run game. He offers excellent YAC ability but his catch radius is small and he looks to have maxed out his frame in college. He’s a guy that could absolutely do wonders in the NFL or never make a team, I have him in the 6th round.

8) John Bates

Bates has improved every year in college and he’s gone from a tweener at 229 to having ideal size for the position at 6’6 and 260lb’s. He may have had only 12 catches in 2020, but that was through game plan and QB play, as he didn’t drop a single pass this year after it was a small problem historically and was open on more plays where the QB didn’t look his way. He’s an excellent in-line blocker and he has the athleticism to block on the move as well. Bates is a shot in the dark here, I like his measurables but he had very little production in college. I wouldn’t take him before the 6th, but he’s an interesting guy to watch.

9) Tre’ McKitty

Tre is likely never going to be a reliable TE1, but he does have some upside after showing an ability to block in-line and break tackles in the Georgia offense. He had previously spent his career at Florida State where he enjoyed a solid 2018 season. he shows good form catching the ball away from his body, but doesn’t have the speed to challenge down the field.

10) Pro Wells

Wells had a disappointing pro day where he tested in the lower percentiles for the position. I was expecting him to put up some better numbers as he’s shown some good ability off the line at TCU. Hasn’t done a lot in-line as a blocker or receiver and was mostly used out of the slot, but he is a contested catch machine bringing down 9 of 14 in his career.

Notable mentions: Noah Gray, Tony Poljan, Ben Mason, Kenny Yeboah, Matt Bushman and Zach Davison. I haven’t included Jacob Harris in here as I see him as a receiver project rather than a tight end one.