Under the Radar NFL Draft Targets: Tight End (2021 NFL Draft)
After one of the weaker tight end classes in recent memory in 2020, we have an exciting class with multiple future Pro Bowlers. Kyle Pitts headlines the class as one of the top tight end prospects in recent memory. Brevin Jordan and Pat Freiermuth closely follow as exciting Day 1 talents. The picture gets a little more cloudy after that with multiple prospects vying to be the first tight end selected after the big three. There are a number of talented prospects that usually get discussed for that spot, but there are two tight ends who seem to be flying under the radar.
Tape watched: Senior Bowl, Senior Bowl week, Missouri, (2019), (2019)
Georgia tight end Tre’ McKitty, a grad transfer from Florida State, has been one of the fastest risers of the offseason. He impressed throughout Senior Bowl week and may have pushed himself into the late Day 2 conversation. With little ahead of him outside of the big three, McKitty could appeal to teams not willing to spend premium draft capital on Kyle Pitts, Brevin Jordan, or Pat Freiermuth.
Due to limited college production, McKitty is more of a project than someone who can be expected to contribute heavily in his first couple of seasons. His ability as a receiver and as a blocker should help him see snaps, but he may have to work his way into a meaningful role. Testing pending, McKitty could eventually develop into a starter for teams that run 12 personnel as their base package or that prefer their starter to spend the bulk of their snaps in line. While he was heavily underutilized at Georgia, he had some impressive moments for Florida State.
I'll be watching for Georgia TE Tre' McKitty tomorrow in the Senior Bowl. Apparently had a solid week of practice and made an impression. Man has some skill with huge hands, athleticism, body control and good YAC ability. #Devy All The Time. pic.twitter.com/OtoWHoKkOA
— Brandon Lejeune (@DevyDeepDive) January 30, 2021
McKitty does have move tight end potential as he was highly regarded as a receiving tight end coming out of high school. He has the hands, route-running ability, and body control to become an excellent target in the short and intermediate areas of the field, and has already displayed his ability both downfield and in the red zone. He will likely prove to be a weapon after the catch due to his size and strength and could shine if he lands in the right offense. There is a lot to get excited about with McKitty, but landing spot could make-or-break his success during his first contract.
Tape watched: Clemson, Alabama, Pittsburgh
Tommy Tremble is another exciting tight end prospect who had limited college production. He had the misfortune of playing behind two exceptionally talented tight ends in 2019 second round pick Cole Kmet and 2023 potential first round pick Michael Mayer. Tremble was the starter in name in 2020, but Mayer saw the bulk of the snaps in single tight end sets. He managed just 35 receptions for 401 receiving yards and four touchdowns in college, making him more of an upside project pick than someone teams will feel comfortable handing a starting job to immediately. Does being stuck behind two of the better tight end prospects of the last decade mean that Tremble is not talented? Hardly.
Tremble is an underrated athlete who ran a 4.63 40 coming out of high school (at the Opening regionals). To put that in perspective that would be a top-10 time recorded since 2018. This, plus his exceptional and large (11″) hands combined with his ‘wide receiver like’ body control suggest that Tremble could become a vertical threat at the next level. Tremble is more of a traits guy than a production prospect at this point, but he has all of the tools to become an impact receiving threat in the right situation.
Notre Dame Junior TE Tommy Tremble is a player.
The accolades are normally reserved for his teammate Michael Mayer, but Tremble is a versatile option who should test as one of the more athletic TEs in his class – either 2021 or 2022.
In 2022, he could be the 1st TE taken. pic.twitter.com/kK83rRkYuP
— Felix H. Sharpe II (@sharpereview) December 29, 2020
The most exciting thing about Tremble is his blocking skills. Notre Dame knows how to find big-bodied athletes who can block, and Tremble is no exception. He is going to see snaps very early due to his plus ability in pass protection and his excellent run blocking. Tremble operated as the lead blocker in several packages, including out of the backfield as a fullback. His blocking prowess makes him a potential Day 2 selection for run-heavy teams looking for a developmental tight end who is capable of making an immediate contribution as a blocker. Outside of the big three, there may be no tight end with more upside than Tommy Tremble.
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