The NFL draft is approaching and the various mocks have popped up on the internet. While Kansas City Chiefs GM Brett Veach is focused on the NFL’s upcoming free agency period, he’s also preparing for the 2021 NFL draft and talked to the media at the beginning of the week. The team is getting to know all of the players in virtual pre-draft meetings to put together a preliminary draft board.
In recent history in the NFL, we learned it is important to have a good tight end. This year, we saw Travis Kelce and Rob Gronkowski in the Super Bowl, last year Kelce and George Kittle. The tight ends are important players who are strong, can contribute as blockers, and can be used as key receivers in difficult situations.
After last year’s draft class featured zero first-round picks, this year’s class is hoped to be a little bit stronger.
Since Demetrius Harris left the Chiefs, the team has not found a real number two tight end to support Travis Kelce. Coming into the 2020 season, Ricky Seals-Jones had only six offensive snaps during the regular season, Nick Keizer, an undrafted free agent, has seen the most playing time as the second tight end with 302 offensive snaps. On those snaps, he has piled up a total of six receptions for 63 yards. The other tight end with playing time is Deon Yelder who has been on the field with the offense for 194 snaps in 2020 and seven receptions for 36 yards.
Even if it is not a priority, it is now time to find a future efficient replacement to Travis Kelce, although he has still many good years in the tank. Being as efficient as Kelce will be hard but after Tony Gonzalez and Kelce, Kansas City should find the new jewel to continue this legacy.
There are a few players that could fit the Chiefs system. Let’s review them.
Kyle Pitts (Florida) and Pat Freiermuth (Penn State) are certainly the two main players at the position this year.
Very athletic, Pitts is a great receiving target but he needs to improve his blocking. On the other side, with his size and speed, at 6’5″, 259 pounds, Freiermuth has all the needed skills to be a do-it-all tight end, but some wonder if he can reach his full potential in the NFL. He has shown quickness when breaking off the top of his routes to find separation and he has great hands at the catch point. His ability to always come down with the ball despite taking hits at the catch point is a strong point in his favor. His physicality and toughness enables him to gain yards after the catch too.
Entering the 2020 season, Pat Freiermuth was the top tight end 2021 prospect for most analysts. The emergence of Kyle Pitts has downgraded him to option number two. However, if Pitts lands inside the top 15 (he should), it removes Pitts de facto for the Kansas City Chiefs, who have their first pick at number 31.
Therefore, Freiermuth could be a good player the Chiefs could choose to grab later in the rounds.
Another tight end prospect, Brevin Jordan (Miami) has earned some interest from general manager Brett Veach.
Jordan plays like a more compact, tough wide receiver and excels at different types of short passes. However, he does not have the “usual tight end stature”, he’s smaller than most tight ends at only 6’3, 245 lbs. Still, Jordan had 38 catches for 576 yards and 7 touchdowns last season in only 8 games for Miami.
And he could be an option for Kansas City on Day 2 of the 2021 NFL Draft. His mix of speed, lateral agility, size, and physicality makes Jordan very athletic for most linebackers to cover.
His competitive toughness and motivation can be seen when he works hard for additional yards after the catch, but he is always working towards blocking for ball carriers.
The Chiefs staff love speed and athleticism, and Jordan fits the description, which could give Andy Reid a good solution for the screen game.
Maybe the tight end room is not the priority during the draft this year as Brett Veach mentioned cornerbacks and offensive linemen in his interview on Monday, but a good number two tight end could complement nicely the hugely talented Travis Kelce.