2021 Pre-Draft Rookie Best Fits – Tight Ends

Updated: April 21st 2021

This will be the third installment of our Rookie Best Fit series with a focus on the often forgotten tight end position. If you are looking for Best Fits for either Quarterback or Running Backs you can find those in the corresponding links.

Most years, because of RSO’s short window to capitalize on rookie contract values over their veteran counterparts, tight end is either pushed down in the rankings or just ignored altogether. There are cases of talents pushing their way into the late first round but often fail to live up to expectations when compared to those around them.

This year there is one player, Kyle Pitts, who is so well known and considered so unanimous that people forget that there are other options even available in 2021. Pitts is likely to go top 10 in the NFL draft and likely between 1.03 and 1.07 in most rookie drafts regardless of the landing spot. Remember to temper expectations though as even the best tight ends often take a year or two to develop before turning into George Kittle or Travis Kelce.

The other options are more rooted in normal tight end projects and would be better served to wait till at least the third round of rookie draft unless in a tight end premium league. With that, let us look at some of the prospects most likely to be drafted in rookie drafts for 2021.

Pat Freiermuth – Penn State

DLF Ranking – 19th (24th SF)

NFL Draft – 2nd Round

Best Fit – 2.38, Cincinnati Bengals /2.39, Carolina Panthers

If the Bengals do the responsible thing at 1.05 and draft Penei Sewell, missing out on Kyle Pitts, they may be rewarded with the opportunity to still draft Pat Freiermuth aka “Baby Gronk” out of Penn State. Freiermuth is easily one of the more polished blockers in this tight end class and would be perfect for both weak side blocking for Joe Mixon in the running game as well as providing another pass catcher for Joe Burrow over the middle. If the Bengals do not take him at 38 the Panthers should immediately turn in their card for all the same reasons one spot behind them.

Brevin Jordan – Miami (Florida)

DLF – 26th (27th SF)

NFL Draft – 3rd/4th Round

Best Fit – 3.85, Tennessee Titans

Another example of the team not having the right capital to acquire a player as I think Brevin Jordan would do excellent in Kliff Kingsbury’s spread offense where his slimmer frame as a slot tight end would do better for his value than being wasted as a part-time blocker. However, unless a trade down from the second round leaves them with mid-range capital we have to look elsewhere. The Titans just lost Jonnu Smith and while Anthony Frikser did okay as a receiver last season, Jordan would do much better to replace Smith alongside A.J. Brown and Josh Reynolds as the primary catching tight end in Tennessee.

Hunter Long – Boston College

DLF – 43rd (50th SF)

NFL Draft – 2nd/3rd Round

Best Fit – 2.54, Indianapolis Colts /2.61, Buffalo Bills

Watching Hunter Long gives off Zach Ertz vibes so why not pair him up with the coach and quarterback that made Zach Ertz, Frank Reich and Carson Wentz, in Indy. While there are several tight ends in Indianapolis right now there should be opportunities for a rookie like Long to come in and contribute in 2021 and continue to develop into a top tight end by 2022 or 2023. If the Colts do not take him, the Buffalo Bills could sweep in later in the second and fill one of the few holes they have at offense. One thing that usually makes a great fantasy tight end is a great quarterback and being linked to Josh Allen would do nothing but help Long’s case to be the TE2 in this class.

Kyle Pitts – Florida

DLF – 6th (8th SF)

NFL Draft – Top 10 Selection

Best Fit – 1.08, Carolina Panthers

Kyle Pitts is one of those rare talents where even though he plays a less valuable position in terms of draft value he likely is still going in the top 10 if not top 5 of the draft because of how overwhelming the gap between him and the next tight end option would be. If a run on quarterbacks goes early and he was to fall to 1.08 for Carolina, his chances of becoming a top 3 tight end right away would be oozing with potential. With Head Coach Matt Rhule and Offensive Coach Joe Brady able to scheme around talents like Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, and then Kyle Pitts it would easily create one of the most dynamic offenses in the league to start day two of the draft.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews