Top five NFL prospects at TE, regardless of class
Over the next two weeks, Rivals national analysts Mike Farrell and Adam Gorney will break down the top five pro prospects at each position regardless of class. Today, we look at tight ends.
1. Kyle Pitts
Recruiting: The four-star prospect narrowed his list to Florida, Georgia and Virginia Tech before his senior season. After the Bulldogs landed a pledge from John FitzPatrick at tight end, it looked like they were out and a few days later, Pitts committed to the Gators.
Performance: Pitts leads the Gators in receptions and receiving yards with 39 and 469, respectively, and he also has four receiving touchdowns. Only receiver Freddie Swain has more touchdowns with five.
Comparison: Arik Gilbert (2020)
Farrell’s take: Pitts is a super athletic tight end with good hands who can stretch the field. He could even play wide receiver for the Gators or at least be put outside at times, and that's exactly what Gilbert brings to the table. Gilbert is much more athletic and polished at the same stage and has more upside while Pitts was a bit raw out of high school but developed well at Florida. Pitts isn't draft eligible yet but when he is, he could be the first tight end off the board.
2. Pat Freiermuth
Recruiting: Freiermuth’s recruitment and commitment were pretty cut and dry. The four-star landed his Penn State offer after working out at its summer camp and then on an unofficial visit, he decided to commit to the Nittany Lions before his junior season.
Performance: Freiermuth had a phenomenal freshman season and he’s backing that up again as a sophomore as the four-star has 51 catches for 659 yards and 15 touchdowns so far in his career.
Comparison: Theo Johnson (2020)
Farrell’s take: Freiermuth is a tough one to compare because he was so big in high school but Johnson has similar size and can catch the ball. He's not as physical as Freiermuth was in high school but he's arguably a better pass catcher.
3. Cole Kmet
Recruiting: Even though his father, Frank, played at Purdue, Kmet narrowed his list to Notre Dame and Ohio State. He took visits to both South Bend and Columbus and then midway through his junior season, Kmet committed to the Irish.
Performance: Kmet is second on the Irish with 27 catches for 318 yards and he leads the team with five receiving touchdowns. He had no touchdown catches in his first two years at Notre Dame but has dramatically stepped it up this season.
Comparison: Michael Maye (2020)
Farrell’s take: Kmet is an impressive tight end and had the most upside of anyone on this list. Maye is special in that regard as well and we could look back and realize he was the best pure tight end in the 2020 class.
4. C.J. O'Grady
Recruiting: From Fayetteville, O’Grady committed to Arkansas in the summer before his senior season over Oklahoma, Texas, Ole Miss and others. His junior year was his first playing tight end after switching over from quarterback.
Performance: Despite only playing in seven games, O’Grady leads the team with 33 catches for 372 yards and three touchdowns. However, it was announced earlier this week that O’Grady is no longer with the team after serving a suspension in the Razorbacks’ game against Mississippi State last weekend.
Comparison: Jalin Conyers (2020)
Farrell’s take: O'Grady has good size and he's very athletic with sneaky speed. Conyers is thinner at the same stage but has a similar skill set and should be a great addition to a loaded Oklahoma offense.
5. Albert Okwuegbunam
Recruiting: On his third visit to Missouri, Okwuegbunam decided to make his commitment in the fall of his senior season. Syracuse, Nebraska, West Virginia, Indiana and Michigan State were some of the other schools involved in his recruitment.
Performance: The former three-star prospect has had an outstanding college career at Missouri where he has 90 receptions for 1,131 yards and 23 touchdowns now in his third season. He had 11 TD catches in his freshman season.
Comparison: Jake Briningstool (2021)
Farrell’s take: Okwuegbunam was a tall but skinny prospect out of high school who lined up more as a wide receiver than a tight end but projected to play the latter. Bringingstool has a lot of filling out to do and will bigger by the time he hits college. But his athleticism is similar. Okwuegbunam is considered by many to be the top tight end for the draft next year.