Hunter Long 2021 NFL Draft Profile

Hunter Long declared early for the 2021 NFL Draft and the Boston College tight end is among the top five players at his position.
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Long started all 11 of BC’s games during the 2020 season. During the 2020 season, Long received 89 targets and recorded 57 catches (three drops, 64%). He earned 685 yards and caught five touchdowns. He was the most targeted tight end in college football this season, even more than projected top-ten pick Kyle Pitts. According to Pro Football Focus, Long finished as the 13th-highest-graded tight end in college football (minimum 10 targets) with an Offensive grade of 83.3 (83.2 Receiving, 79.0 Drops, 70.6 Run Blocking, 54.9 Pass Blocking).

Before Boston College, Long attended the prestigious boarding school Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts, even though he hails from New Hampshire. He earned a high-two/low-three star recruiting ranking, despite being a top-ten player in Massachusetts. Long received offers from mostly FCS schools in the Northeast but committed to Boston College, his only Power-Five offer.

Long took a redshirt year as a true freshman in 2017. Since then, he has played in every game for the Eagles over the last three seasons. He served as a backup to current Buffalo Bills’ tight end Tommy Sweeney and only caught four passes for 103 yards and one touchdown. In 2019, Long assumed the starting tight end position. Despite being mainly used as a blocker in BC’s run-heavy offense, Long led the team in receiving yards with 509 yards on 28 catches with two touchdowns, earning Third-Team All-ACC honors.

After Jeff Hafley replaced Steven Adazzio, Long exploded onto the scene in 2020, becoming a featured weapon in BC’s new vertically oriented passing game. He led the team in receptions and finished second in receiving yards and touchdowns. Long earned First-Team All-ACC honors and some Second and Third-Team All-American honors; he also finished as a semifinalist for the John Mackey Award. Long elected to capitalize on his excellent season and declared early for the 2021 NFL Draft.

In the NFL, Long projects as a TE2 that can work his way into a starting role later in his career. Long does everything quite well but might not be elite in any one area. His most unique trait is probably that he was used more like an NFL tight end in BC’s pro-style offenses, which asked him to block as an in-line tight end, a rarity in college football today. He might not be comfortable aligning out wide as an X receiver like Travis Kelce. However, Long can be an extremely effective short and intermediate option, as he knows how to get open and can cover ground quickly; he is also a more than adequate blocker.

Measurements and Pro Day

Boston College listed Hunter Long at 6’5″ and 253 pounds. At the Senior Bowl, Long measured in at 6 feet and 5 1/8 inches (6051) and 254 pounds. He had 9 6/8″ hands and 33 6/8″ arms, along with an 83″ wingspan. At Boston College’s pro day, Long ran the 40-yard dash in 4.63 and 4.69 seconds. He ran the short shuttle in 4.42 seconds and the three-cone drill in 7.41 seconds. Finally, Long leapt 10 feet and 2 inches (122″) in the broad jump and 32.5″ in the vertical. Based on these measurements and numbers, Long earned a Relative Athletic Score of 8.59 out of 10, ranking 132nd out of 927 tight ends from 1987 through 2021 and eighth in the draft class at his position.

Scouting Report

Positives

· Comfortable aligning and releasing from three-point stances as attached tight end and from the slot in a two-point stance

· Very consistent hands, catching with good extension and secures ball quickly; good in contested catch situations and very comfortable catching the ball away from his body and in traffic.

· Solid route runner: fluid in and out of his breaks, understands how to use his leverage and manipulate zones to get open

· Surprisingly good long speed after the catch, with long frame allowing him to eat up chunks of field quickly; physical after the catch to run through contact and fight to pick up extra yards.

· Solid blocker, better on run plays, sealing the edge well against defensive linemen and can get outside or climb against linebackers and defensive backs; good timing and placement as run blocker and keeps feet moving to drive defender

· Lots of experience on special teams, both as a protector for field goals and extra points and as a gunner on kicks.

Negatives

· Not elite in any one area; not overwhelming in terms of size, strength, speed, or athleticism

· Could stand to improve his release technique, especially when aligned as a wide receiver

· Does not make multiple defenders miss in the open field after the catch

· Needs to improve pass blocking strength and technique; rarely used in this role but struggled slightly with hand placement/timing and maintaining his anchor.

NFL Comparison

Hunter Henry (Los Angeles Chargers 2016 – 2020, New England Patriots 2021 – Present)