2021 NFL Draft Profile: Hunter Long

Hunter Long NFL Draft

Hunter Long NFL Draft Overview

Position: Tight End
Height: 6’-5”
Weight: 255 pounds
School: Boston College

2021 NFL Draft: Hunter Long Player Profile:

Hunter Long is a great sleeper prospect if there ever was one ahead of the NFL draft in 2021. Tight ends are often underused at the college level. However, Boston College made a conscious effort to incorporate the size and versatile skillset of Long into the gameplan on Saturdays. 

By his senior year of high school at Deerfield Academy, Massachusetts, Long was already 6’-5”, 235 pounds. He played tight end and defensive end in high school but Long was only a three-star recruit and the majority of power five conference teams skipped on offering Long a scholarship. Long committed to Boston College late in the process. 

After redshirting a year, Long enjoyed a highly productive career for a college tight end. He averaged 18.2 yards per reception his redshirt sophomore season, going over 500 receiving yards in 2019. Long became a more consistent target his final year in college, leading the nation among tight ends with 57 receptions. He rumbled for 685 receiving yards and five touchdowns in 11 games. Long enters the 2021 NFL draft as one of the top tight ends in the draft but very much under the radar in the media. 

Strengths

  • Great size and strength for an NFL tight end;
  • Solid route runner in college – good hands;
  • Experienced and keen blocker – in the run game and understands chip & release concept in the passing game;
  • Two years starting experience with Boston College;
  • Good open-field runner – shows good agility for a big man.

Weaknesses

  • While a solid route runner, his skills need refinement;
  • Not an elite athlete – his ability to make tacklers miss and top-end speed is limited; 
  • Better athletes and route runners available at the same position in the draft;
  • Not necessarily projected as a difference-maker immediately at the pro level;
  • Luxury pick – projected as a solid number two tight end as a rookie with the potential to become a starter. 

NFL Comparison: Hayden Hurst

Hurst has developed into the solid all-around tight end he was projected to be entering the league out of South Carolina in 2018. Hurst offers effective and powerful blocking in the run game, and good enough athleticism in the passing game to be productive. Like Hurst, Long will be expected to contribute as a blocker in order to work his way onto the field more and earn targets. Hurst caught six touchdown passes in 2020 for the Atlanta Falcons, coaches will similarly want Long to use his own size to the teams advantage in the RedZone. 

Teams With Need at Position: New England Patriots, Carolina Panthers, Washington Football Team, Seattle Seahawks, Jacksonville Jaguars

Projection: Third/Fourth round

Bottom Line on Hunter Long

Kyle Pitts is rightfully receiving all the attention among tight end prospects. He’s an athletic freak. However, Hunter Long is entering the league with a wealth of experience as a blocker in the run game and a competent router runner. He turned himself into a reliable target over the middle of the field at Boston College. 

Longs’ draft stock can only go so high due to his limitations as an athlete. While productive in college, he never wowed anybody with his athleticism. Tight end simply isn’t a priority for a majority of teams in the NFL, unless a prospect is projected to be a clear difference-maker. His route running also needs refining, as Long is limited in the routes he can run effectively at the pro level. 

His weaknesses in terms of speed and agility aren’t a knock on his overall football ability, it’s just pointing out what every scout will see. Long is plenty athletic enough to be successful at the pro level. Teams looking for depth at tight end who use a lot of two-tight end sets should target Long in the middle rounds of the draft. Long is a solid prospect, with a good all-around skill set. Furthermore, he demonstrated a good football IQ at Boston College, and an ability to stay on the field in the run and passing game. Coaches will love his versatility and willingness to learn in order to improve.

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