Check Out Some Tight Ends Who Could Be Bears Fits in the 2021 NFL Draft

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Check Out Some Tight Ends Who Could Be Bears Fits in the 2021 NFL Draft

Chicago Bears

The 2021 NFL Draft is fast approaching. And it’s a big one for GM Ryan Pace, who enters the final year of the extension he signed in 2018. The same can be said for Head Coach Matt Nagy, the NFL Coach of the Year for his efforts in 2018, who aims to fix an offense that has been spinning its wheels since the start of 2019. Starting today, we’re looking at some of the best prospects at various positions leading up to the Draft in search of fits for the Bears’ needs.

Previous: Quarterback, Offensive Line, Wide receivers, Defensive backs

Today: Tight ends

Need: Not as high as you’d think, especially when considering one of their top returning options is entering his age 35 season and is largely a one-dimensional player at this stage of his career. But not as low as you’d want it to be on the needs list, especially when considering the team used its first of two second-round draft picks in 2020 on the first tight end off the board.

Currently on the Roster (2020 PFF Grade):

Jimmy Graham (64.5), Cole Kmet (57.7), J.P. Holtz (46.4), Darion Clark (N/A), Jesper Horsted (N/A)

BN’s Composite Ranking

Ranking prospects is difficult, in part, because no one publication has the same set of fundamentals or preferences. In an attempt to work through that noise, we’re using a composite ranking based on opinions from PFF, ESPN, The Draft Network, and Pro Football Network and adapting them to a points scale. The best of the top-10 prospects gets 10 points, the 10th ranked prospect gets 1, and prospects outside the top-10 get 0. From there, the prospects are ranked by total points.

Here’s how the tight ends stack up (points in parenthesis):

1.   Kyle Pitts, Florida (40)
2.   Pat Freiermuth, Penn State (36)
3.   Tommy Tremble, Notre Dame (29)
4.   Brevin Jordan, Miami (Fla.) (28)
5.   Hunter Long, Boston College (27)
6.   Tre’ McKitty, Georgia (13)
7.   Kenny Yeboah, Ole Miss (11)
8.   Noah Gray, Duke (8)
9.   Zach Davidson, Central Missouri (7)
10.   Briley Moore, Kansas State (5)
10.   John Bates, Boise State (5)
10.   Kylen Granson, SMU (5)

Best of the rest: Quintin Morris (Bowling Green), Ben Mason (Michigan), Nick Eubanks (Michigan)

Team Fit

The Bears entered training camp in 2020 with nine tight ends. And while we don’t figure to see that much competition when camp kicks off this summer, this group could still use some fresh blood with some upside.

Cole Kmet and Jimmy Graham (at least, for now) returning should make for a solid base to work from. But the Bears could still cut Graham and create $7 million in cap space. It’s a real possibility the Bears do that at some point this offseason, especially as a way to fit the team’s draft class under the cap. And if that’s how the cookie must crumble, then it would be wise for Chicago to be in the market to draft a tight end in the later rounds.

Most Likely to be Available When Bears Are on the Clock:

There isn’t a tight end worth drafting at No. 20. And I don’t imagine the Bears trading up to take Florida’s Kyle Pitts. So, as an alternative, I find myself digging into potential late-round values who could be on Chicago’s radar.

The Bears should be looking for the type of tight end who can be more like a “U” to Cole Kmet’s “Y” on the TE position scale.

For instance, Zach Davidson (Central Missouri) piques my interest. Davidson played collegiately at Division II, which will scare off some (not to mention anyone who has a bad taste in their mouth after the Adam Shaheen experience). But you can’t teach size (6-7, 245) or athleticism. Using a later-round selection on Davidson wouldn’t be the worst idea if building depth and rolling the dice on upside is how the Bears decide on addressing the position in the draft. Davidson could be an oversized slot receiver, which would make him a nice tandem partner for Kmet.

Same can be said about players such as Kenny Yeboah (Ole Miss), Noah Gray (Duke), and Tre’ McKitty (Georgia). Nothing wrong with unearthing a potential TE3 type in the late rounds of the draft. It sure beats paying free agent bucks to put one at the back of the roster.

Bears Connections…

Tight end contacts have been few and far between for the Bears this offseason, but this one stands out:

Between Leonard Floyd, Roquan Smith, Javon Wims, and Riley Ridley, we know Ryan Pace has a thing for Georgia products. So we can’t ignore Tre’ McKitty meeting with the Bears during the Senior Bowl.

If I Had to Pick One:

In a fever dream, the GMs who don’t take a quarterback get scared off by taking a tight end high in the first round. The result is Florida’s Kyle Pitts falling to the Bears at No. 20. And while drafting a tight end with your first pick in consecutive years would be sub-optimal in most cases, this wouldn’t be one of them. Pitts is a unicorn. At 6-6 and 245 pounds, Pitts looks like a tight end. But with soft hands, ball-skills, speed, and route-running ability, Pitts plays like a wide receiver. Watching his SEC tape, guy looks like Calvin Johnson, in that he is bigger, faster, stronger, and better than everyone else. Too big to be covered by corners and safeties. Too fast for linebackers. He is a nightmare for opposing defenses. But because NFL general managers are smartening up, Pitts is a bonafide top-10 pick. Which means he’s too far out of the Bears’ grasp.

(Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)


Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.