By Adam Aniba
Draft Prospect Spotlight
Washington heads into the 2021 draft with the tall task ahead of solidifying an offense that ranked 30th of 32 teams in the NFL. After signing journeyman and former college quarterback, Logan Thomas, Washington passed on drafting a tight end altogether in 2020. Fans were left scratching their heads and wondering if the coaches saw something in Thomas that most other teams didn't. The results were undeniable after Thomas finished the season 2nd on the team with 72 rec for 670 yards and 6 td's in his first season under Ron Rivera.
In some ways, Washington exceeded expectations in the passing game in 2020. After starting 4 different quarterbacks and a slew of receivers opposite Terry McLaurin, they generated enough offense to stay competitive in many of their games.
Although Thomas had a productive first season in Washington, more help is needed in the receiving and blocking game from the position. This years tight end class boasts a deeper and arguably more talented group in the later rounds, compared to last year's class. Impact prospects will certainly be available in the later stages of this draft. In this edition of Draft Prospect Spotlight we take a look at Boston College tight end Hunter Long.
3rd-4th Rd Grade | TE | Boston College
Height: 6 feet, 5 1/8 inches
Weight: 254 lbs
Wingspan: 83 inches
Arm length: 33 3/4 inches
Hand size: 9 3/4 inches
Career Stats (26 games) 89 rec 1,297 YDS 9 td's 14.6 YPC average
2020 (11 games) 57 rec 685 YDS 5 td's 12.0 YPC average
*BC Pro Day*
Bench press: DNP
Vertical jump: 32.5 inches
Broad jump: 10 feet, 2 inches
40-yard dash: 4.63 sec
20-yard shuttle: 4.42 sec
Three-cone drill: 7.41 sec
Tight End Hunter Long was a high ceiling prospect coming out of Exeter HS in New Hampshire, but received little attention from college recruits. After four years and no D1 scholarship offers, Long decided to to attend Deerfield Academy in Mass. for a post graduate year and the decision to play an extra year, against higher level competition, definitely paid off.
Long played both sides of the ball while at Deerfield, displaying impressive range as an athlete. Long finished his senior year with 508 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns at tight end, as well as 7 sacks as a situational edge rusher. It was clear to coaches and college scouts that Long had the length and elite catch radius to be a productive pass catching tight end.
Long commited to Boston College and was redshirted in 2017. Although the Boston College tight end was only activated in 4 games for the 2018 season, he went on to have a respectable career at Boston College, registering 85 rec for 1,194 yards with 7 td's in 22 games from 2019-2020. Respectable isn't a term for production that NFL GM's want to hear when drafting a prospect who is expected to produce early on. Fact is, the quarterback play was average at best at Boston College and Long became the primary target in a lackluster offense. On most occasions, Long was forced to adjust to off target balls with little opportunity for yards after the catch. Long finished 2020 with the most targets (89) of any tight end in the nation. Although Long wasn't asked to block often, he showed the ability and willingness to be more than serviceable in that department.
Tale of the Tape
Shows disciplined eyes as a receiver, displaying no fear when surrounded
A chain mover who became the QB's safety blanket
Tough as nails and is usually the last man standing after initial contact
Wide catch radius allows him to adjust to off target throws
Former HS defensive end who understands how to utilize leverage and length to beat jams
Hands might be his best attribute
Deceptive athlete who displays a second gear when loose in the open field
Matchup nightmare in the red zone
Fit in Washington
Some might consider having a pass catching TE#2 a luxury with a team in dire need of better run and pass blocking. Hunter Long was the primary receiving target on a Boston College offense that struggled to move the ball most of the year. Long was the bright spot of the BC offense. His production during his week at the Senior Bowl led to him being named the top tight end and earning him the Player-of-the-Week Award at his position for the National team, which is voted on by the opposing linebackers and defensive backs.
Long's previous experience as a sub-package defensive end in HS (registered 7 sacks in one season) will go a long way in helping him to refine his ability as a blocker on the next level. Long's high school clips at defensive end displayed his ability to utilize his length and effectively use counter moves. In addition, his length and athletic ability make him a threat in the red zone.
Long was asked to be the #1 option in the Boston College offense, but never had the luxury of playing with a WR#,1 such as Terry Mclaurin or an emerging TE#1, like Logan Thomas. Long seems to epitomize what Rivera looks for in a prospect and would add to a young, although high upside offense. If Washington hasn't addressed tight end before Day 3 of the draft, selecting Hunter Long in the 4th round would be a wise invetment.
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