JACKSONVILLE – It's Kyle Pitts and everyone else.
That's the consensus among analysts discussing tight ends in the 2021 NFL Draft, with Pitts considered the class' best prospect at the position – and one of the class' top prospects overall.
"There's some depth at tight end into that sixth-round area," ESPN Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said. "The depth is pretty good, but the elite guys – outside of Kyle Pitts … that's the only one."
Pitts, who played collegiately at the University of Florida, is widely considered the draft's top prospect outside the quarterback position. And analysts believe he compares favorably with the top quarterbacks, too.
"You can make a strong case he's the best player in the draft," NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said.
Said NFL Media and Jaguars Media analyst Bucky Brooks: "Kyle Pitts is the guy everybody will talk about … big-time playmaker, difference-maker, a match-up nightmare."
The next tier of tight ends includes Pat Freiermuth of Penn State, Brevin Jordan of Miami and Hunter Long of Boston College.
"There are a lot of talented pass-catchers at tight end," Brooks said. "Maybe not as many complete tight ends who can do everything in terms of blocking and running routes, but they're guys who you can plug and play and put in specific roles."
HANDICAPPING THE JAGUARS
This was a position of major intrigue for Jaguars observers entering the offseason, and the intrigue has done nothing but build entering the draft. The team long has needed to upgrade a position that is among the most difficult to find in the NFL. While the team signed unrestricted free agent Chris Manhertz from the Carolina Panthers in mid-March as a blocking tight end, and while they re-signed receiving tight end James O'Shaughnessy, Head Coach Urban Meyer shortly after those signings said the team is not done addressing receiving tight end. While many fans have speculated about the Jaguars trading for Pitts, that likely would mean moving from No. 25 in Round 1 into at least the top six or seven selections. That likely would be prohibitively expensive – and could cost a future first-round selection or multiple current and future Day 2 selections. The Jaguars seem extremely likely to select the position with one of their five selections in the Top 65 – possibly at No. 33 or No. 45 in Round 2. Whether they deem a tight end such as Freiermuth – widely considered the draft's top tight end after Pitts – worthy of No. 25 overall will be a major topic in the final two weeks leading to the draft.
PROJECTED FIRST-ROUND TIGHT ENDS
Kyle Pitts, Florida; Pat Freiermuth, Penn State.
BROOKS BREAKS DOWN THE CLASS
The 2021 draft features numerous dynamic pass catchers and playmakers at tight end. Pitts is the crown jewel of the class as an ultra-athletic pass catcher with NBA power forward-like size and ballerina-like moves. The Florida standout is arguably the best player in the draft and few tight end prospects over the past decade can rival his talent and potential. Freiermuth is a classic "Y" tight end with a polished all-around game that makes him a hot commodity in league circles. He is a rock-solid blocker in the running game with impressive skills as a pass-catcher, particularly as a third-down or red-zone option. Long is a big-bodied playmaker with soft hands and precise route-running skills. He is a natural "Y" but could play as a "FLEX" in some systems. Jordan and Georgia's Tre' McKitty are athletic pass catchers with the speed and athleticism to thrive as mismatch players in creative schemes.
Tommy Tremble, Notre Dame. The rugged Notre Dame product is an aggressive blocker with a nasty disposition and physical game. Tremble uproots defenders at the line of scrimmage while also flashing sneaky pass-catching skills on the perimeter. He is an ideal H-Back with a well-rounded game that could enable him to evolve into a valuable offensive weapon as a pro.
Kyle Pitts, Florida. The 6-foot-6, 245-pounder is a unicorn at the position as a pass-catching specialist with extraordinary physical tools. Pitts is a matchup nightmare on the perimeter as a jumbo wide receiver playing as a tight end in a spread offense. He creates problems for opponents with his athleticism and versatility, and few defensive coordinators will have an answer for dealing with his unique talents at the next level. Pitts is a rare find at the position with the gold jacket-like qualities evaluators covet in Top 5 prospects.
POSITION RANKING: 8 of 10.
CHANCES JAGUARS TAKE A TIGHT END IN ROUND 1
Fifty-fifty, perhaps depending on how they feel about Freiermuth's value at No. 25.
TEs ON THE JAGUARS ROSTER
Chris Manhertz, James O'Shaughnessy, Tyler Davis, Ben Ellefson.