2021 NFL Draft: Tight end watch list

Kyle Pitts NFL Draft
Nov 9, 2019; Gainesville, FL, USA;Florida Gators tight end Kyle Pitts (84) catches the ball in the end zone for a touchdown against the Vanderbilt Commodores during the second half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The 2021 NFL Draft will offer teams something that 2020’s draft class didn’t: first-round tight ends.

The Chicago Bears were the first team to select a tight end in the 2020 NFL Draft when they picked Notre Dame’s Cole Kmet with the 43rd overall pick (11th pick of the second round). No other tight ends were chosen until the third round when the New England Patriots selected UCLA’s Devin Asiasi with the 27th pick of the round. A total of four tight ends were picked in the third round, including Josiah Deguara (Green Bay Packers), Dalton Keene (Patriots), and Adam Trautman (New Orleans Saints).

Twelve tight ends in total were drafted in 2020. It was the fewest since 2016 when just 11 heard their names called.

The 2021 NFL draft will all but certainly top that number. In fact, there could be multiple tight ends picked in the first round.

Here are the top tight ends to watch heading into the 2020 college football season.

Florida Gators Offensive Preview - Rock M Nation

Kyle Pitts, Florida

Pitts is this year’s “wide receiver in a tight end’s body.” At 6-5, 239 pounds, Pitts has route-running traits and after-the-catch ability that’s rarely seen from tight end prospects with his physical profile.

Pitts ended 2019 with 54 catches, 649 yards and five touchdowns.

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Pat Freiermuth, PennState

The 6-5, 259-pound Freiermuth is a freight train in the open field. Good luck to defensive backs tasked with dragging him to the ground.

Freiermuth’s development from 2018 to 2019 has his arrow pointing up in what should be a breakout season for a player who’s already considered a first-round prospect. He ended 2019 with 43 catches, 507 yards and seven touchdowns. Freiermuth has 15 touchdowns over the last two years.

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Brevin Jordan, Miami

Jordan is a tad undersized at 6-3, 235 pounds, but in today’s NFL, he’ll fit perfectly as a joker/offensive weapon for teams looking to create mismatches against linebackers and safeties.

Jordan ended 2019 third on the Hurricanes in receptions (35) and second in yards (495) despite missing three games.

Other names to watch…

Jake Ferguson, Wisconsin

Luke Farrell, Ohio State

Matt Bushman, BYU

Bryan Perez

Bryan is the founder of Pro Football Draft. His work has been featured on The Draft Network, NBC Sports and USA Today. Former CFL scout.

Follow him on Twitter: @BryanPerezNFL