Rookie Tight Ends: Ideal Landing Spots
by Alan Seslowsky – Twitter: @Alanseslowsky
The 2021 NFL draft is going to be historic when we look at the storylines and narratives of the tight end position. A tight end may get drafted the highest in NFL history. Rookie tight ends are usually a bad bet in fantasy football. They take time to develop, and it can be three seasons before we find out if our pre-draft evaluations were accurate. Below are the optimal landing spots (that are realistic) for the top three TE prospects.
TE Kyle Pitts, Bengals (Pick 5)
Many credible mock drafts have Kyle Pitts going to Atlanta at pick four. If that happens, Pitts will be the highest drafted TE ever in the Super Bowl era. RosterWatch is excited about Kyle Pitts no matter where he lands, but Cincinnati represents a slightly higher ceiling for fantasy. Should Pitts go to Atlanta, he would be no higher than third in the projected target share behind Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. Matt Ryan is also past his peak, compared to Bengals QB, Joe Burrow who has not peaked yet. If Pitts lands in Cincinnati, he is arguably in line to lead the team in targets right out of the gate. The dynasty market is high on second-year WR Tee Higgins for good reason. Pitts at pick five would give him richer draft capital than Tee Higgins. Higgins does have a year of NFL experience in his favor but only played nine games with Joe Burrow. The career arc of Joe Burrow is clearly in a better place than that of Matt Ryan. We don’t suspect Pitts gets past Miami at pick six, so when choosing the best landing spot for fantasy football purposes, Cincinnati looks ideal.
TE Pat Freiermuth, Jaguars (Pick 25 or 33)
Pat Freiermuth would likely be considered the TE1 in most draft classes. He happens to be entering the NFL draft when an all-time prospect (Kyle Pitts) is coming out. He likely would have been drafted ahead of Cole Kmet if he was in the 2020 draft class.
Almost no mainstream sports media attention has been focused on Freiermuth. Freiermuth is a clean prospect with modern day TE abilities. At 6’5″ and 255 lbs, he profiles as a top-tier athlete who can do it all. The Jaguars would be an optimal landing spot for a few reasons. They are going to have a modern day coach in Urban Meyer. An elite QB prospect, Trevor Lawrence, and most importantly the Jaguars will have an opportunity for a rookie TE to come in and dominate snaps. Jacksonville is in a position to draft Freiermuth, with either pick 25 or more likely pick 33.
TE Brevin Jordan, Steelers (Pick 55)
Jordan put himself on the map in 2019 as one of the best tight ends in college football. He was a Mackey Award finalist, an award given to the most outstanding tight end in college football. At 6’3″ and 245 lbs Jordan is “undersized” by prototypical positional standards. An interesting comp for Jordan is Eric Ebron. This comp led us to think about the possibility of Brevin Jordan getting drafted to Pittsburgh in the middle of the second round. Incumbent starter Eric Ebon restructured his contract to stay with the team, but after 2021 has only “voidable years,” remaining. Essentially making Ebron expendable. Brevin Jordan is unlikely to be useful for fantasy in 2021. He would be an easy plug-and-play in 2022, assuming the Eric Ebron role. There are other uncertainties surrounding the Steelers, mainly the future of Ben Roethlisberger, but the clear fit and potential opportunity in 2022 makes The Steelers an ideal landing spot for Brevin Jordan.