NFL Draft

Top Tight Ends

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

There is debate at quarterback, running back, wide receiver and every defensive position on which NFL Draft prospect would be the top player at the position, but there is no question at tight end.

Florida’s Kyle Pitts is a special talent and will be an immediate weapon for the team that drafts him in the top 10.

After Pitts, there are three to four prospects who should be drafted on Day 2 followed by a handful of tight ends who will be targets in the mid to late rounds.

1.Kyle Pitts, Florida, 6-6, 246: On my draft board, Pitts is the second-best player in the 2021 NFL Draft and the rarest prospect after Trevor Lawrence.

Some scouts think Pitts could move to wide receiver and be a Calvin Johnson style player.

Pitts was dominant in 2020, showing superb speed, hands, leaping ability, route running, and dynamic mismatch potential for the NFL.

Every opponent was incapable of covering Pitts, including future first and second rounders in the Alabama and Georgia secondary. Some scouts say Pitts is the best receiving weapon in the draft and is a more dynamic mismatch than Chase, Smith and Waddle.

  1. Pat Freiermuth, Penn State, 6-5, 256: Freiermuth was solid in 2020 before going down with a season ending injury that required surgery.

Medicals will be extremely important for Freiermuth. As a receiver, Freiermuth has the potential to be a contributor to a team’s passing attack, but lacks separating speed and elite athleticism.

Freiermuth’s most distinctive positive trait is his physicality as a runner and blocker. NFL coaching will help him get a better technique and a more aggressive demeanor. Late round 2 – early round 3

  1. Brevin Jordan, Miami, 6-3, 244: Jordan is a smooth route runner with the quickness to separate.

He glides through the secondary and is able to use his athleticism with speed to get open.

Along with good route running, Jordan has very reliable hands that give him the ability to control the ball with his hands.

As a blocker, Jordan shows the willingness to block but he lacks size to take on NFL defensive ends and linebackers. Early round 3

  1. Hunter Long, Boston College, 6-5, 253: Long has good size and does an excellent job of winning contested catches.

He uses his build to shield off defenders with skilled body control and awareness to put himself in between the ball and coverage.

Long is a solid blocker but the skill set is not there for him to develop into an effective NFL blocker. He has the potential, but he needs to get stronger to pack more punch and sustain his blocks after point if contact. Late round 3 – early round 4.

  1. Tommy Tremble, Notre Dame, 6-4, 252: Tremble displays the competitiveness to be a bulldozer as a run blocker and ties up defenders in pass protection.

Although his production was lacking at Notre Dame, his tape is enough to get scouts excited.

Tremble was an underutilized receiver in college and therefore unrefined in route running.

He flashed the athleticism and body control to work pass underneath defenders and make himself a large target. He is projected to be a better pro than college player as he continues to develop. Round 4-5.

  1. Tre’ McKitty, Georgia, 6-5, 245:McKitty only made six receptions during the 2020 season with the Bulldogs. He had better receiving production in 2018 and 2019 when playing for Florida State.

McKitty is a good athlete with a nice burst of speed out of his breaks to create space from defenders early on and challenge defenses vertically.

Scouts are concerned with his blocking and non-existent production in 2020.

Other players to look out for: Quintin Morris, Bowling Green; Nick Eubanks Michigan; Kenny Yeboah, Ole Miss; Pro Wells, TCU; Tony Poljan, Virginia.

There is a clear delineation between the haves and the have nots at tight end in the NFL nowadays and this year’s draft is the same. There is Kyle Pitts and everyone else

New Dirty Birds

By: TJ Hartnett

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The NFL Draft is a magical time. It is both a beginning and an ending.

One door shuts on the college career of young and hungry hopefuls, while the door to their professional career opens wide.

It’s a time of hope for fans as well, as they look for their favorite team to draft the players that will turn them around or help them take the next step.

People will debate until they are blue in the face which college player should be drafted at what point in the draft, or who is the best fit for what team and who will be the player that falls the farthest. The point is everyone has an opinion about the NFL Draft and that includes Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, apparently.

Word is that Ryan sent a text message to the Falcons’ General Manager, Thomas Dimitroff, thanking him for drafting offensive linemen with both their first and their second picks in the Draft. That says something profound about how badly Ryan needed protection after season that saw him get hit third-most in the league and sacked eighth-most.

Those offensive linemen were Chris Lindstrom at 14 and Kaleb McGary, whom the Falcons traded up for to draft 31st overall.

Lindstrom is a guard from Boston College and McGary played right tackle at Washington, though he could also be moved to guard.

Lindstrom was not likely the 14th best player in the Draft, but the Falcons made a statement by drafting him and by trading their 2nd and 3rd round picks in order to get McGary in the first round. The O-line is going to be better this year come hell or high water.

Adding to the intrigue is the fact that the Falcons signed two offensive guards during the offseason in Jamon Brown and James Carpenter.

It seemed fairly likely that those two would be starting for Atlanta come September, but with these two draft picks it now seems like a competition for those positions will be on. These are choices that potentially improve the team by leaps and bounds.

After missing the 2nd and 3rd rounds, the Falcons picked up cornerback Kendall Sheffield from Ohio State. Sheffield’s game is his speed and will play an important role for the team, if his pectoral injury doesn’t plague him the way it plagued Desmond Trufant.

Dimitroff then took John Cominsky, a Defensive End from Charleston, for his second pick in the 4th round. He’s got size and versatility, and his presence could keep the likes of Vic Beasley, Jr. and Takk McKinley on their toes and motivated.

Round 5 saw the Falcons draft a running back from Pittsburgh by the name of Qadree Ollison. Ollison is a big dude and should be capable of brining power to the short-yardage game of the Falcons, serving as a nice compliment to Devonta Freeman.

Atlanta’s second pick of the 5th round was another corner: Jordan Miller – also of Washington. Their second at that position of the draft, Miller will add depth to the secondary and join another former Washing player in Trufant there.

For Round 6, the Falcons branched out and took a wide receiver: UL Monroe’s Marcus Green. Green isn’t going to supplant Julio Jones, but he may be counted upon to make both kickoff and punt returns. He has the potential to provide some explosive returns and provides competition with free agent signing Kenjon Barner for the role.