Saints 2021 Draft Prospects: Hunter Long

New Orleans spent a Day 2 draft choice on promising TE Adam Trautman in 2020.  Will they look to double up on the position in the 2021 draft?
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New Orleans Saints tight end Adam Trautman was selected in the 3rd round in the 2020 draft with the 105th overall pick out of Dayton. The team traded all four of its Day 3 picks to Minnesota to move back into the 3rd round to grab him. New Orleans made that deal with the expectation that Trautman would take over the starting job in 2021.

Jan 23, 2020; North tight end Adam Trautman of Dayton (84) makes a catch past North safety Jeremy Chinn of Southern Illinois (22) during Senior Bowl practice. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY 

Jan 23, 2020; North tight end Adam Trautman of Dayton (84) makes a catch past North safety Jeremy Chinn of Southern Illinois (22) during Senior Bowl practice. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY 

Trautman caught 16 of 19 targets for 175 yards and a touchdown in his rookie year. He also impressed coaches with his blocking, earning him more playing time over the course of the season. While Trautman looks to be the starting tight end to open the season, the Saints have little depth behind him.

New Orleans moved on from disappointing veteran TE Jared Cook and released the reliable Josh Hill this offseason. They added veteran TE Nick Vannett in free agency, but he offers little downfield threat as a receiver.

For the first time since 2005, Drew Brees will not be the New Orleans quarterback to start a season. The Saints could use the draft to give new starter Jameis Winston extra weapons. While they may bring in another wideout, they could also use a mid-round pick on another tight end to complement Trautman.

HUNTER LONG, TIGHT END (BOSTON COLLEGE)

Boston College tight end Hunter Long (80) catches a pass against the Pitt Panthers. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY 

Boston College tight end Hunter Long (80) catches a pass against the Pitt Panthers. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY 

6’5” 254-Lbs.

Pro Day 40m = 4.63

Pro Day Vertical Jump = 32.5”

Pro Day Broad Jump = 122”

NFL.com Comparison (Lance Zierlein):

Jace Sternberger (Packers)

Long was an all-state selection as a tight end and defensive end at Deerfield Academy in New Hampshire. He red shirted his first year at Boston College and played sparingly in 2018, catching 4 passes for 103 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Long appeared in all 13 games of the 2019 season, but started just three contests. Despite that, he still led the Eagles with 509 receiving yards, catching 28 balls and scoring two touchdowns. Long was even better in 2020. He had 685 yards and 5 scores on a team-high 57 receptions, resulting in 1st team All-ACC and 2nd team All-American recognition. In 26 games at Boston College, Long had 89 receptions for 1,297 yards and 9 touchdowns.

Despite his size, Long doesn't have a physical style of play. He displays a lack of aggressiveness as a run blocker, often sitting back on his heels. His poor blocking technique allows defenders to get into his stance and by him quickly to the ball carrier.

Boston College tight end Hunter Long (80) is tackled by Notre Dame linebackers Jack Kiser (24) and Drew White (40). Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY 

Boston College tight end Hunter Long (80) is tackled by Notre Dame linebackers Jack Kiser (24) and Drew White (40). Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY 

Long must have a stronger release off the line of scrimmage as a receiver to help gain fast separation from press coverage. He doesn't have the foot speed to out run safeties, so must further hone his routes to be effective. Long also must show more competitiveness in high traffic areas as a receiver, using his size to better advantage.

Long has the athleticism to attack defenses on all three levels. He has crisp breaks and smooth acceleration at the top of his routes. Long has outstanding extension for throws outside his frame and excellent hands. He maintains concentration in traffic and has good body control on sideline routes.

His terrific feel for zone coverage makes him an ideal check-down option. Long has an excellent nose for the end zone and is a reliable 3rd down target. Nearly 60% of his receptions in 2020 resulted in a 1st down.

Boston College tight end Hunter Long (80) catches a pass against Duke safety Marquis Waters. Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY

Boston College tight end Hunter Long (80) catches a pass against Duke safety Marquis Waters. Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY

Hunter Long has enough football awareness to improve his blocking if he makes a commitment to improving his technique and plays more physically. He definitely has the ability to make an immediate contribution as a receiver. Long can be effective through the intermediate zones as an in-line tight end, and also be an athletic mismatch for a linebacker from the slot.