2021 NFL Draft Rookie TE Landing Spots (Fantasy Football)
Tight ends typically take a few years to emerge as fantasy producers, but Kyle Pitts highlights this TE class as one of the best prospects ever at the position. This TE class is dominated by Pitts and Pat Freiermuth, but nine other TEs were drafted between picks 83 and 168(including three straight by AFC South teams). There isn’t a lot to be excited about from the TEs drafted after Freiermuth, but there are some players worth keeping tabs on as they develop in the NFL.
To get a deeper look at the 2021 rookie class, make sure to check out our 2021 Rookie Player Profiles.
Kyle Pitts – Atlanta Falcons
Round 1, Pick 4 overall
Kyle Pitts is easily one of the best TE prospects to ever enter the NFL. The Florida product laid waste to SEC competition with a combination of size and speed that will continue to make him a matchup nightmare in the NFL. Matt Ryan and the Falcons now have an embarrassment of riches with Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Kyle Pitts running roughshod over defensive secondaries. Most TEs take a few years before becoming fantasy-relevant, but the draft capital ATL used to draft Pitts means he’ll be plugged into the offense immediately and we can bank on 625+ pass attempts from Ryan. As if we needed any other reason to get hyped about Pitts, ATL declined Hayden Hurst‘s fifth-year option meaning he’ll be a free agent following this season.
2021 Competition: Hayden Hurst
Pat Freiermuth – Pittsburgh Steelers
Round 2, Pick 55 overall
With Kyle Pitts taking up most of the attention, some really solid TEs were distant second thoughts including Pat Freiermuth. Freiermuth is another TE with great size and athleticism. He’s also very well-rounded as a blocker and receiver meaning he can be used all over the field and should work himself into a high percentage of snaps early in his career. PIT still has Eric Ebron, but his contract makes him expendable following this season.
2021 Competition: Eric Ebron, Zach Gentry
Hunter Long – Miami Dolphins
Round 3, Pick 81 overall
What little passing game Boston College had was dominated by Hunter Long with a 23.3% target share. He’s not the most athletic receiver and he’s weak as a blocker, but he does have good hands. This was a curious pick by MIA who have athletic phenom Mike Gesicki entering his third NFL season. Long probably won’t be fantasy relevant early in his career.
2021 Competition: Mike Gesicki, Durham Smythe, Adam Shaheen
Tommy Tremble – Carolina Panthers
Round 3, Pick 83 overall
Notre Dame TEs – a tale as old as time. Despite being on the smaller size at just shy of 6’4″ and 241 lbs., Tremble was used mostly as a blocker. He has good speed with a 4.59 second 40-yard-dash at his pro day, but drops were an issue and he only produced 35 receptions his last two years with Notre Dame. Tremble offers CAR value as a blocker who can be used in several positions, but he’s buried on the depth chart and needs to develop more as a receiving threat before offering fantasy value. Even if/when that happens, CAR’s WR corps and the presence of Christian McCaffrey will make getting significant offensive touches nearly impossible in the near future.
2021 Competition: Dan Arnold, Ian Thomas
Tre’ McKitty – Los Angeles Chargers
Round 3, Pick 97 overall
Tre’ Mckitty spent 3 years with Florida State before transferring to Georgia for his senior season. McKitty fits LAC’s need for a TE that can be an in-line blocker with both Jared Cook and Donald Parham better as receiving threats. His role as a blocker should get him on the field early, but he won’t be a reliable fantasy asset in the near term. He did show some promise as a receiver with over 20 receptions in each of his last two seasons at Florida State so he will be a TE to monitor over the next few years.
2021 Competition: Jared Cook, Donald Parham
John Bates – Washington Football Team
Round 4, Pick 124 overall
At 6’5″ at 250 lbs., Bates has good size for the NFL and posted an agility score that ranked in the 89th percentile, but that’s where the good stops. He struggles as a blocker and never achieved anything higher than a 7.5% target share in his four years at Boise State. It’s tough to project him for much value in fantasy, but the WAS depth chart is very sparse behind Logan Thomas.
2021 Competition: Logan Thomas, Marcus Baugh
Kylen Granson – Indianapolis Colts
Round 4, Pick 127 overall
Kylen Granson is on the shorter side coming in under 6’2″, but still weighed in at 241. He offers plus athleticism that shows up in routes and is capable of generating yards after the catch. He’ll need to develop as a blocker to see his snap percentage increase, but he achieved a double-digit target share at both Rice and SMU going on to accumulate 14 receiving TDs over his last 22 games. Granson slides in behind a couple of veterans on the depth chart, but Jack Doyle has had trouble staying on the field and Mo Alie-Cox hasn’t done much outside of a few splash plays. This is a good landing spot for Granson and he may be worth a late flier in rookie drafts.
2021 Competition: Jack Doyle, Mo Alie-Cox
Luke Farrell – Jacksonville Jaguars
Round 5, Pick 145 overall
The Ohio State product wasn’t used much in the passing game with only 12 receptions over his last 10 games and never drew a sizable target share. Farrell does have great size measuring 6’6″ and 251 lbs. and did score well in agility drills at his pro day, but he will probably be used almost exclusively in blocking duties and lacks upside with a 40-yard-dash time over 4.8 seconds.
2021 Competition: Chris Manhertz, James O’Shaughnessy, Tyler Davis
Brevin Jordan – Houston Texans
Round 5, Pick 147 overall
Brevin Jordan found consistent usage at “The U” with a double-digit target share in all three years there. Injuries made him miss time in both 2019 and 2020, but he still managed to post over 1,000 yards receiving over his final 17 games. Despite the success as a receiver, his speed is only adequate with a 4.68 second 40-yard-dash at his pro day and his blocking will be a work in progress. Although Jordan will be competing in a full TE room, this is still a good landing spot with no incumbent TE able to lockdown primary TE duties.
2021 Competition: Jordan Akins, Pharaoh Brown, Ryan Izzo, Kahale Warring
Noah Gray – Kansas City Chiefs
Round 5, Pick 162 overall
You have to pay attention when KC drafts a TE. Noah Gray stands at 6’3″ and 240 lbs. and scored in the 65th or better percentile in speed, agility, and burst at his pro day. Although his 8.8 yards per reception at Duke leaves a lot to be desired, he led Duke with 51 receptions and a 19% target share in 2019. He tailed off with only 29 receptions this past season, but still earned an 11.5% target share. Gray obviously isn’t challenging Travis Kelce‘s spot atop the depth chart, but it’s still worth monitoring depth players on a Patrick Mahomes-led offense.
2021 Competition: Travis Kelce, Nick Keizer
Zach Davidson – Minnesota Vikings
Round 5, Pick 168 overall
Zach Davidson is one of the most interesting prospects entering the draft. He was a punter averaging over 40 yards per punt in the three years between 2017 and 2019 at Central Missouri. His school didn’t play in 2020 due to COVID, which is a shame because in 2019 he racked up 15 TDs and 894 yards as a TE with only 12 starts. He also averaged an astounding 22.4 yards per reception albeit against very very weak competition. His 4.60 40-yard-dash, 37.5″ vertical jump, and good agility at 6’7″ and 245 lbs. make the freakish athlete a low probability development project. He’ll still be fun to root for as a TE…or punter.
2021 Competition: Irv Smith Jr., Tyler Conklin