There is zero questioning the top need on the Jacksonville Jaguars' roster today is quarterback, but there is also no questioning about the Jaguars' eventual solution at the position -- in 21 days, Trevor Lawrence will be their new quarterback.
But after quarterback, no need may be more prevalent than tight end. And unlike quarterback, there is no clear solution waiting at the end of April. The Jaguars are entering the draft with a massive hole on the depth chart and how they will fill it is truly anyone's guess.
"We have two different style of tight ends, one is a ‘Y,’ which is—on the line, basically an extension of your offensive line, a very good blocker, but also very functional in the pass game. We identified the guy, had him at the top of the list and that’s [Chris] Manhertz and we got him," Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer said after free agency.
"The next one is the ‘F’ and that’s the primary pass catcher, but also a functional blocker. We have not addressed that. [James] O'Shaughnessy—two years ago, O'Shaughnessy had a very good year, showed a lot of potential. Obviously, he had an ACL injury, he’s been in here training, I’ve gotten to know him, really enjoy being around him. So, we count on him, but we have not finalized that piece of the puzzle yet. But the ‘Y’ part–we all feel extremely strong about Manhertz.”
So if the Jaguars opt to use the draft to finalize that part of the offensive foundation, which players make sense at every turn of the draft?
Picks: No. 1, No. 25 (via Los Angeles Rams)
Florida TE Kyle Pitts: The clear-cut top tight end in this year's class, Kyle Pitts has a legit argument to make as the best non-quarterback prospect in this class. He is hands down the best tight end prospect I have studied since starting evaluating the NFL Draft in 2013; I am not sure it is particularly close either. His blend of size, speed, and upside as a blocker make him a rare impact player both out wide and in-line. The Jaguars have zero chance to draft him unless they trade up into the top-10, but he is gifted enough to warrant consideration for such a move.
You can view my entire assessment of Pitts' skill set and his fit with the Jaguars here.
Picks: No. 33, No. 45 (via Minnesota Vikings), No. 65
Penn State TE Pat Freiermuth: One of the most productive and balanced tight ends in this year's class, Penn State's Pat Freiermuth isn't a first-round prospect but he has a high floor and a considerably high ceiling due to his blend of pass-catching ability and size and strength. What he lacks for in dynamic athleticism he makes up for in blocking ability and soft hands, especially in the red zone. He may not bring a lot of speed to the offense, but he is a pro-ready tight end prospect.
You can view my entire assessment of Freiermuth's skill set and his fit with the Jaguars here.
Notre Dame TE Tommy Tremble: Tommy Tremble is a tough projection for Jaguars purposes. He is one of the most athletic tight ends in the draft, plays like a natural receiver, and is a legitimately top-tier blocker from several different alignments. With that said, he has minimal production as a receiver and the Jaguars ultimately need a tight end who can be a high-volume target. He is my No. 3 tight end in the draft but I am curious how high the Jaguars would be on his skill set.
You can view my entire assessment of Tremble's skill set and his fit with the Jaguars here.
Miami TE Brevin Jordan: Brevin Jordan has some of the best tape and production of any move tight end in this entire draft, but his pre-draft process has led to some questions about his projection. He has some clear weaknesses on tape but his overall straight line speed makes him a threat in the middle of the field. He hasn't tested well and may drop down some boards as a result, but he has a legitimate track record production as a pass-catcher that probably shouldn't be ignored. Still, his RAS of 4.52 raises some questions.
You can view my entire assessment of Jordan's skill set and his fit with the Jaguars here.
Boston College TE Hunter Long: While Hunter Long plays more so in the style of a traditional in-line tight end, there are a lot of reasons to think the Jaguars could see him as a solution to their tight end depth problems. He caught 85 passes for 1,194 yards (14.04 yards per catch) and seven touchdowns in the past two seasons so he has a track record of production as a pass-catcher. He also played for Urban Meyer's friend and former assistant Steve Addazio at Boston College, so Meyer can get the complete scoop on Long during the pre-draft process. Long also recorded an RAS of 8.59 according to Kent Lee Platte, so he is a plus-athlete as well.
Picks: No. 106, No. 130 (via Los Angeles Rams), No. 145, No. 170 (via Cleveland Browns), No. 249 (via Tennessee Titans).
Georgia TE Tre' McKitty: Tre' McKitty spent the first few seasons of his college career at FSU before transferring to Georgia in 2020. He is mostly a bet on potential because he showed good movement skills and aggressiveness as a split-out tight end throughout his college career, but he has limited production. He caught three touchdowns in 26 career starts and never eclipsed 26 catches or 256 yards in a season. He has traits to develop as a pass-catcher but may not be ready to make an impact instantly.
Ole Miss TE Kenny Yeboah: Kenny Yeboah was one of the most productive tight ends in the country in 2020, catching 27 passes for 524 yards (19.4 yards per catch) and six touchdowns. It was his second year with at least five touchdown passes but was his first season as a high-volume target. He won't make an impact as a blocker and there is some question about how his type of athleticism will translate to the NFL, but he has natural receiving skills and route running ability for a 6-foot-5, 250 pound target.
SMU TE Kylen Granson: One of the best athletes in this draft class (RAS of 7.71), Kylen Granson has to add a lot of size and power to his frame for the NFL level but he has natural traits and production as a pass-catcher. He was one of the nation's most productive tight ends in college the last two years, catching 78 passes for 1,257 yards (16.11 yards per catch) for 14 touchdowns in SMU's offense. He won't add value as a blocker (only 6-foot-1, 240 pounds) but he has serious speed for the position, excels after the catch, and is a proven receiver.
Duke TE Noah Gray: One of the fastest tight ends in the draft (4.62 40-yard dash), Noah Gray is more of a jumbo wide receiver than anything else. He played in a pro style offense and was used in a variety of ways at Duke and led the team in catches with 51 in 2019. He finished his Duke career with 105 catches for 948 yards (9.0 yards per catch) and eight touchdowns, so he isn't a proven big-play threat but has shown ability as a volume target in the passing game. His 6-foot-3, 240-pound frame makes it unlikely he goes before late Day 3.
Kansas State TE Briley Moore: Truly an top-tier athlete in terms of speed and explosiveness (RAS of 9.02), Briley Moore is a quick-footed pass-catcher with natural movement skills and route running ability out of the slot and backfield. He was voted second-team All-Big 12 last year after 22 catches for 338 yards (15.4 yards per catch) and a team-leading three touchdowns. His size may knock him on some boards but he has the speed to threaten the seams.
Ohio State TE Luke Farrell: A tight end Urban Meyer recruited and developed at Ohio State, Luke Farrell is an above-average athlete with an NFL frame at 6-foot-5, 251 pounds. He only caught more than seven passes in one season at Ohio State, though, and is mostly a complete projection as a receiving threat.