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O'HARA'S DRAFT PREVIEW: 5 tight ends that could interest Lions

Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell has seen the tight end position evolve into something far different than what was the standard when he entered the NFL in 1999 to begin a 10-year career as a blocking specialist.

Kyle Pitts of Florida is taking the position to an even different level as one of the most talked about prospects in the 2021 draft.

His combination of size (6-6, 240), speed (an unofficial time of 4.49 seconds in the 40-yard dash) and skill level has raised questions about where he fits in the draft.

Certainly, it will be somewhere near the top of the first round on April 29. The question is where he plays in the NFL. Pitts could be a tight end, a big receiver or a combination of both who has created his own position.

When asked to compare how the tight end position has changed since he entered the NFL, Campbell didn't try to answer.

"You tell me," Campbell said. "You guys already know that answer.

"He's a different bird than the traditional tight end, or certainly what it has been when I played. He's one of those guys. He's talented."

The Lions have one talented tight end in T.J. Hockenson, their 2019 first-round draft pick who made the Pro Bowl last season.

Hockenson had 32 catches and two TDs as a rookie and basically doubled his production in 2020 to 67 catches and six TDs.

How the Lions add to the position is the question.

Following is the Lions' depth at tight end, the position's strength in the draft and draft priority at the position, and five tight ends who could fit the Lions.

Lions tight end depth chart: T.J. Hockenson, Josh Hill, Hunter Bryant, Alize Mack, Hunter Thedford.

Tight end draft strength, draft priority for Lions: Pitts is the only tight end in this draft rated as a first-round prospect. Pitts would be a tempting choice if he's still on the board when the Lions make the seventh pick in the first round. If they draft a tight end, it mostly likely will be on Day 3 for development.

1. Kyle Pitts, Florida

6-6, 246

Stats line: Three-year player, two-year starter -- 2019-2020. Career: 100 receptions with 97 last two seasons, 1,420 yards and 17 TDs.

Where he could fit the Lions: Anywhere. Simple as that. He can play in the slot, split wide or inline as a blocker.

2. Pat Freiermuth, Penn State

6-5, 258

Stats line: Three year player, 30 games, only four in 2020. Career: 92 catches, 1,185 yards and 16 TDs. In only four games in 2020 he had 23 catches, 310 yards and a touchdown.

How he could fit the Lions: Aggressive player who doesn't hesitate to go for the ball and make tough catches.

3. Brevin Jordan, Miami (Fla.)

6-3, 245

Stats line: Three years, 30 games. Career: 105 catches with consistent production -- yearly receiving totals of 32, 35 and 38 from 2018 to 2020. 1,359 yards and 13 TDs, with career best of seven TDs in eight games in 2020.

How he could fit the Lions: Produces on third down, and gets yards after the catch.

4. Hunter Long, Boston College

6-5, 253

Stats line: Three-year player, 36 games. Career: 89 catches, with 85 last two seasons, 1,197 yards and seven TDs.

How he could fit the Lions: Blocking and receiving skills show potential to play on any down.

5. Tommy Tremble, Notre Dame

6-4, 248

Stats line: Two-year player, scout team in 2018. Career: 25 games, 35 catches, 401 yards and four TDs. Five catches for 73 yards in two games vs. Clemson.

How he could fit the Lions: Strong, willing blocker with better receiving skills than his stats show.

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