Struggles to separate from man coverage, especially press
Will really struggle to separate in the NFL
Not special after the catch
Needs to improve as a blocker
Not overly physical as a blocker
Needs to add strength
Decent, but not a great, athlete
Summary: Boston College has produced a lot of prospects in recent years who despite lacking elite physical talent are tough football players for the NFL. Long will continue that tradition in the 2021 NFL Draft after posting two straight quality seasons of play for the Eagles. In 2019, he caught 28 passes for 509 yards with two touchdowns. He was just scratching the surface, as he then totaled 57 receptions for 685 yards and five touchdowns in 2020.
In the passing game, Long has good size does an excellent job of winning contested catches. He uses his build to wall off defenders with skilled body control and awareness to put himself in between the ball and the coverage. Long has soft reliable hands and good concentration to secure the catch while defenders are initiating contact. Long is a good red-zone contributor who functions well on underneath routes as a result. Going down the seam and along the sideline, Long is a weapon to make catches over defenders when nothing else is open.
Long had issues separating from coverage in college, and that will only be a bigger issue in the NFL. He is not fast and lacks the speed to run by defensive backs or outside linebacker. Long is also not sudden or explosive with his route-running to generate separation, so he is going to have to be a tight end who wins on contested catches while also serving as an underneath outlet receiver. He also could be functional to attack zone coverage.
As a blocker, Long has room for improvement for the NFL, but he has the skill set to eventually go into being a good blocker. Long's blocking potential is partially held back by his need to add strength to pack more of a punch and sustain his blocks. He gives a solid effort, but for taking on NFL edge rushers and outside linebackers, he will need to fill out his frame with more power to engage them. Thus, Long may need a year or two as a backup before developing into a potential starter.
Long could go as high as the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft, and he probably won't go lower than the fourth round. Long has the ability to develop into a starting NFL Y tight end once he gets stronger and tougher as a blocker.
Player Comparison: C.J. Fiedorowicz. Long reminds me of C.J. Fiedorowicz coming out of Iowa and how he played with the Texans. Feidorowicz (6-5, 265) was a quality blocker who could contribute as a receiver and was a solid pro before concussions ended his career early. Fiedorowicz was a third-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, and Long could go in the same range in the 2021 NFL Draft.