The "Triple Take" team, the Steelers Radio Network trio of Matt Williamson, Dale Lolley and Mike Prisuta, provides updates on their breakdown of the top tight end prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft. If you want to hear the audio version of "The Triple Take" click here.
The opinions of these Steelers Radio Network personalities do not reflect the views of the Steelers organization.
Matt's Second Take on the TE position ...
Who's stock has risen and why?
Nick Eubanks, Michigan (6-5, 256 lbs.) - Eubanks is a really interesting prospect. He moves like an H Back type with the ability to get downfield in the passing game but has the size to align inline. Eubanks' strong hands and long arms show up when blocking and grabbing the football out of the air, but he does need to refine his route running skills. The quarterback play at Michigan didn't help Eubanks' cause in terms of production and he wasn't used detached from the formation as much as his skill set would indicate. At Michigan's Pro Day, Eubanks posted strong agility drill tests and ran under a 4.6 in the forty-yard dash. He sets up to have a better professional career than he did at the college level.
Who's emerged and why?
Tommy Tremble, Notre Dame (6-4, 248 lbs.) - As of this writing, Notre Dame's Pro Day has yet to take place. But after watching more film on Tremble, expect him to perform well in that environment. The reason he is picked here is that Tremble is a player you want on your team and not someone you want to play against. And the best is yet to come for Tremble, who was often playing behind a very talented younger tight end at Notre Dame. He's tough, competitive and highly explosive for someone his size. Tremble will contribute in many different ways in the NFL.
Other Notes: Tony Poljan from Virginia is a guy to keep an eye on and a bit of a throwback at this position. Tight ends his size (6' 7" 265) aren't as in vogue as they once were. But there is still something to be said for throwing to a huge target that boxes out his defender and running behind someone like Poljan who can compete with the NFL's edge defenders. Poljan runs pretty well for his size, but also could even tack on more weight and already plays the game with passion and toughness. Poljan is also a former quarterback that knows what his quarterback wants and how quarterbacks see the field.
Matt's First Take on the TE position ...
#5 - Kylen Granson, SMU (6-1 1/2, 243 lbs.) - Obviously very short for the position, Granson is thickly built though. He is a very unique prospect overall and can line up all over the formation. Granson is truly a combination of tight end, slot receiver and H back with some running back and wide receiver even mixed in. He is a movable chess piece but will have to go to an offense that understands how to utilize Granson's wide array of skills. He was a very productive receiver at the college level and has a nose for the end zone, but he won't be for everyone.
#4 - Hunter Long, Boston College (6-5, 253 lbs.) - Long is a tough guy that blocks well inline or on the move. But that sells his speed and athletic ability short. Long can threaten a defense and has been very productive as a focal point of Boston College's offense, seeing a ton of targets and usage. He is excellent in tight quarters in contested catch situations and does a very good job of shielding defenders with his body. While he does run well, Long is not an overly sudden mover and probably doesn't have a real high ceiling at the next level, but he is reliable and might adjust quicker to the league than others on this list.
#3 - Brevin Jordan, Miami (6-3, 235 lbs.) - Jordan is small for the position, but he is also very young and likely to add some quality weight and strength going forward. Still, by no means is Jordan a big factor as a people moving blocker and Miami didn't ask much of him as a blocker overall. His value is as a pass catcher without question. Even though Jordan is very young, he has been Miami's most important receiving option for three straight seasons. Jordan really stands out after the catch where he runs away from tacklers and shows creativity with the ball in his hands as well as sharp cutting ability. Because of his size, Jordan doesn't have the catching radius as others on this list and doesn't consistently snatch the ball away from his frame.
#2 - Pat Freiermuth, Penn State (6-5, 259 lbs.) - Freiermuth has traditional inline tight end traits with ideal size for the position. He is a quality blocker, but an excellent receiver. He was very productive at a very young age at Penn State and kept getting better and better during his college career. Freiermuth is a very powerful and physical player. That shows up in the run game without question, but also after the catch where he has inflicted a lot of punishment to linebackers and defensive backs. He was Penn State's feature receiver. Freiermuth runs well but isn't an elite speed guy. He is a real handful to deal with down in and down out.
#1 - Kyle Pitts, Florida (6-6, 239 lbs.) - This is a rare prospect with just an abundance of mismatch traits for the NFL. He aligns all over the formation including incline and in the slot, which is probably where Pitts does his most damage. Pitts even often aligns as a traditional X receiver and routinely beats man coverage from top cornerbacks. He can sink his hips and explode out his breaks like a wide receiver. Pitts is a total nightmare in the red zone and has a remarkable ability to stretch the field at his size. He has a huge catching radius and can really go up and get the football at its highest point. Pitts also has big soft, yet strong, hands to pluck the ball away from his frame and on the run. Is Pitts a killer as a blocker? No, but who cares.
Dale's Second Take on the TE position ...
Who's stock has risen and why?
Pat Feiermuth, Penn State (6-5, 259 lbs.) - To be clear, Freiermuth has always been the No. 2 tight end in this class and he still is. He also didn't lift or run at the Nittany Lions' pro day last week. But he did do on-field workouts. That in itself was a positive sign given the fact his 2020 season ended early because of a back surgery. That might have scared some teams away, but the fact he's able to get back onto the field this early is a plus.
Who's emerged and why?
Tommy Tremble, Notre Dame (6-4, 248 lbs.) - Tremble has largely been the No. 2 tight end at Notre Dame, but he's a very willing blocker and really does so well on the move. While many teams are looking for bulked up wide receivers at the position, Tremble is more of a throwback, which will have value to some teams.
Other Notes: Iowa State's Dylan Soehner is offensive tackle sized at 6-foot-7, 272 pounds. But he ran a very respectable 4.78-second 40-yard dash at the Cyclones' pro day. Soehner needs some polish, but he's worth keeping an eye on. … Georgia's Trey McKitty didn't work out at the school's pro day, but he had 11-inch hands, which is outstanding and should come in handy catching the football. … One of the things about top prospect Kyle Pitts that some other receiving tight ends could learn from is his willingness to block. He gives good effort in that department, even when he fails to stay engaged.
Dale's First Take on the TE position ...
#5 - Kenny Yeboah, Mississippi (6-6, 244 lbs.) - Yeboah began his career at Temple before transferring to Ole Miss in 2020. He made the most of that one season in the SEC, however, catching a career-high 27 passes for 524 yards and six touchdowns. Yeboah is good working down the seam and is an excellent red zone target. Caught 11 touchdown passes on just 46 receptions in the last two seasons. Was at his best against Alabama in 2020, catching seven passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns. He's also a willing blocker who should continue to get better as his body fills out.
#4 - Brevin Jordan, Miami (6-3, 235 lbs.) - Jordan is undersized, but fits what many teams are looking for in today's NFL. His game is reminiscent of the Giants' Evan Engram. Jordan's game is in his receiving skills. He's a weapon that can be used in a number of ways and is really good after the catch as his 15.2 yards per catch average in 2020 on 38 receptions would suggest. Not a great blocker due to his size limitations, but he's more than willing to mix it up.
#3 - Hunter Long, Boston College (6-5, 253 lbs.) - A nice sized combo tight end who was featured heavily in Boston College's offense, Long had 89 targets in 2020, 22 more than the next closest tight end in college football last season. He finished with 58 catches for 685 yards and five touchdowns. Long is an old-school tight end who can both block sufficiently and be a threat in the passing game. That skillset won't be for everyone, but teams who are looking for more than just a receiver will like Long.
#2 - Pat Freiermuth, Penn State (6-5, 259 lbs.) - Has the size to be a matchup issue and is very good in the passing game. He wasn't asked to block at lot at Penn State, but he projects to continue to develop in that area. In the meantime, he's a matchup issue because of his size and agility down the field. Should immediately be a red zone threat. Played in just four games in 2020 – catching 23 passes – because of an undisclosed injury that required surgery, so he'll have to check out medically.
#1 - Kyle Pitts, Florida (6-6, 239 lbs.) - Pitts is the kind of weapon that any team in the league could use. His size makes him a matchup issue for defensive backs. His speed makes him tough on linebackers. And he catches the ball like a wide receiver. Pitts also isn't afraid to get his uniform dirty as a blocker. Pitts had 12 touchdowns on just 43 catches in 2020. He might be the best tight end prospect to come into the league in several years and should continue to get better as he matures. Could be a top-10 pick, which is a rarity for the position.
Mike's Second Take on the TE position ...
Who's stock has risen and why?
Matt Bushman, BYU (6-4, 239 lbs.) - Bushman got a chance to re-introduce himself to the army of evaluators that showed up to see quarterback Zach Wilson throw at BYU's Pro Day, and to re-establish himself as healthy. Bushman opted to return to BYU rather than enter last year's draft and then suffered a torn ACL a week before the 2020 season.
"I showed I'm ready," he told KSL Sports. "My biggest strength is my catching ability. I have some of the best hands in this (tight end) class."
Bushman missed Wilson's breakout season at quarterback in 2020 but caught 47 passes for 688 yards and four touchdowns in 2019. Bushman's three-year totals at BYU include 125 catches, 1,719 receiving yards and nine scores. He established a reputation in those three seasons for great hands and an ability to break tackles.
Draft analyst Dane Brugler of The Athletic was among those who lamented the injury that cost Bushman his 2020 campaign, and tweeted "Bushman was one of the few promising prospects" in what Brugler considered a "lackluster" tight end class.
Bushman is an older prospect at 25 (having completed a Mormon Mission), but he's flexed out and played inline. He's been a playmaker, has shown potential as a blocker and could be a promising find on Day 3.
Other Notes: Stanford's Pro Day reminded one and all Scooter Harrington (6-5, 250 lbs.) is a Stanford tight end, which may yet prove significant. There were six of those on NFL rosters in 2020 (Austin Hooper, Cleveland; Dalton Schultz, Dallas; Kaden Smith, Levine Toilolo, New York Football Giants; Zach Ertz, Philadelphia; and Colby Parkinson, Seattle). Jeremiah projected Harrington as a priority free agent but added this caveat: "When you get a Stanford tight end you're gonna get somebody that's smart, that's tough, that's gonna have a good chance to make your football team." Stanford has had a tight end on an NFL opening-day roster for nine consecutive seasons. The 36 Stanford players on active rosters in 2020 were the most from a Pac 12 school (two better than Washington's 34) … Dylan Soehner (6-7, 272 lbs.) let reporters know after Iowa State's Pro Day he'd be just fine with continuing to play the blocking-tight end role in the NFL that he fulfilled in college. "If there's a job that's typically labeled as 'unfavorable' in the football world, then that's the kind of job for me," he said. "If the coach is like, 'Man, who do we have to do this?' That's always been my job." Soehner caught 18 passes for 205 yards in nine games in 2020 and 26 for 312 yards and one touchdown in 25 career games at Iowa State … Another player who didn't make much of a pass-catching splash last season was Georgia's Tre McKitty (6-4, 246 lbs.), but NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks remains big on McKitty's potential to do more of that in the NFL than he did in his one season at Georgia (six catches, 108 yards, one receiving TD) after transferring from Florida State. Brooks maintains McKitty has the ability to "create mismatches with his speed, his athleticism and quickness. This is a guy who has all the tools you look for at the position."
Mike's First Take on the TE position ...
#5 - Tre' McKitty, Georgia (6-4, 244 lbs.) - Speaking of untaped potential, McKitty caught 26 passes at Florida State in 2018, 23 for the Seminoles in 2019 and six last season after transferring to Georgia. His work during Senior Bowl practices suggested he's capable of a whole lot more. "Very under-used at Georgia," ESPN analyst Todd McShay assessed during Senior Bowl week broadcasts on ESPNU. "He's really talented. I think he's gonna be one of those players who has a better pro career in terms of production than he did in college." ESPN analyst Mike Tannenbaum cited McKitty's consistency in "catching the ball naturally" at the Senior Bowl. "He's really elevated his stock to be a three-down tight end in the NFL," Tannenbaum added. "It's rare nowadays. Tre' McKitty has the build to do that."
#4 - Brevin Jordan, Miami (6-3, 235 lbs.) - The tape displays Jordan's versatility. He lined up in-line, in the slot and even in the backfield at Miami. Seven touchdown receptions in eight games speaks to Jordan's productivity. And he has a reputation for being an enthusiastic blocker. A clip from the Florida State game features Jordan engaging a safety at the line of scrimmage on a sweep from the right hash and driving his opponent all the way to the sideline (Jordan had a size advantage in the matchup but it was impressive nonetheless).
#3 - Pat Freiermuth, Penn State (6-5, 259 lbs.) - He played just four games in 2020 (23 catches, 310 yards, one touchdown) before undergoing back surgery, so he's going to have to check out medically. But Freiermuth had eight receiving TDs as a freshman and seven as a sophomore, so he's produced when healthy. Draft analyst Dane Bruegler of The Athletic also cited "compete skills" that stood out in his evaluation of Freiermuth.
#2 - Hunter Long, Boston College (6-5, 253 lbs.) - Long is more solid than spectacular and more workmanlike than athletic, but he also may well be the second-most known commodity at the position in terms of what can be expected at the next level. "He has the size you want to play in-line but they'll also use him on the wing, split him out a little bit," NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah observed of Long's time at Boston College. "He's kind of a jack of all trades, master of none, just a good, solid, all-around player." Long has made contested catches and been compared with Kyle Rudolph. Long has also been called a "terrific ambassador on and off the field for our program," by BC head coach Jeff Hafley.
#1 - Kyle Pitts, Florida (6-6, 239 lbs.) - Pitts is to tight ends what Trevor Lawrence is to quarterbacks in this draft, the without-a-doubt No. 1 prospect at his position. The term "freak" absolutely applies. Pitts had a combined six TD receptions in his first two seasons with the Gators, then came back bigger and stronger and exploded for 12 as a junior in 2020. He caught 43 passes for 770 yards while in the process of amassing those 12 touchdown catches. His eight-catch, 170-yard, four-touchdown game against Mississippi included beating press coverage at the line of scrimmage, separating at the goal line and then going down to make a catch on a low-and-away ball at the pylon. The befuddled cornerback threw up his hands, suggesting a what-am-I-supposed-to-do-against-that level of frustration. Pitts also had seven receptions for 129 yards and a touchdown against Alabama.