2021 NFL draft: Top tight ends

©The San Diego Union-Tribune

Kyle Pitts of the Florida Gators celebrates a touchdown against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on November 9, 2019 in Gainesville, Florida. - Sam Greenwood/Getty Images North America/TNS

Welcome to draft season! This is the fourth of 11 positional breakdowns leading up to the NFL draft (April 29-May 1). Here are my top 10 tight ends:


1. Kyle Pitts (Jr., Florida, 6-foot-5, 245 pounds)

Pitts beats man coverage consistently, even when isolated against cornerbacks. He has rare athleticism for a player his size and can turn bad throws into receptions. He's a competitive blocker, but that's not why he's on the field. Some describe him as a unicorn, but I prefer cheat code. Projected: Top 10

2. Pat Freiermuth (Jr., Penn St., 6-5, 251)

Freiermuth didn't quite live up to the "Baby Gronk" moniker but he's capable of imposing his will as a receiver and blocker. Projected: 2nd round

3. Brevin Jordan (Jr., Miami, 6-2, 247)

Jordan looks like a jumbo running back after the catch. He has 21 broken tackles on 105 career receptions and 63.3% of his 1,358 career receiving yards came post-catch. The effort is there as a blocker, but the strength and technique needs work. Projected: 2nd to 4th round

4. Tommy Tremble (So., Notre Dame, 6-3, 241)

Tremble is a heat-seeking missile as a blocker in the run game. He had below-average production as a receiver, but he features legit speed and enough explosiveness to develop into a weapon in the pass game as well. Projected: 2nd to 4th round

5. Hunter Long (Jr., Boston College, 6-5, 254)

Long is a versatile blocker with reliable hands and classic tight end ball skills. He's capable of becoming a quarterback's best friend in the red zone. Projected: 2nd to 4th round

6. Kenny Yeboah (Sr., Ole Miss, 6-3, 250)

Yeboah has good vertical speed for the position with plus ball skills — he was second in the FBS among tight ends with 270 yards after the catch in 2020.

His technique and strength as a blocker is lacking. Projected: 4th to 6th round

7. John Bates (Sr., Boise St., 6-5, 250)

Bates is an impressive all-around athlete (he won state titles in Oregon for the 110-meter hurdles and javelin). His reliable hands are effective against zone coverage, but he's not really a threat after the catch. He's a true asset as a blocker and on special teams. Projected: 6th or 7th round

8. Tony Poljan (Sr., Virginia, 6-6, 251)

Poljan features the ideal size and strength for inline blocking. The former dual-threat quarterback is still new to the position, but he's showcased the body control and catch radius to threaten the seam. Projected: 4th to 7th round

9. Tre' McKitty (Sr., Georgia, 6-4, 246)

McKitty has strong hands with the power and toughness to be an effective blocker. He was underutilized as a receiver throughout his collegiate career at Florida State and in his one season in Athens. Projected: 5th or 6th round

10. Jacob Harris (Sr., UCF, 6-5, 219)

Harris is a former soccer player who didn't catch a pass in a game (at any level) until his junior season of college. He's an explosive athlete who is medium-rare raw, but he has a knack for making catches over defenders. His special teams skills (10 career tackles) will buy him some time as he develops. Projected: 5th to 7th round

BONUS. Ben Mason (Sr., Michigan, 6-2, 246)

Mason is athletic enough to contribute on offense as a hybrid fullback/H-back, but it's his impact on special teams (14 career tackles) and his presence in the locker room that will help him make a NFL roster. Projected: 5th to 7th round