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2021 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: TE Kyle Pitts, Florida

A lot of mock drafts have Florida TE Kyle Pitts going to the Giants at No. 11. So what exactly does he bring to the table that makes him a match for New York?

TE KYLE PITTS

Height: 6'5"
Weight: 239 lbs.
Class: Junior 
School: Florida


Pitts is one of the more polarizing prospects in this draft class; some say he’s a tight end, others say he’s a big wide receiver. One thing is for sure: he’s a good football player.

Pitts was a four-star recruit out of Warminster, Pennsylvania, just outside Philadelphia. Pitts attended Archbishop Wood Catholic High School. He was the fourth-ranked recruit in the state and the 162nd nationally ranked prospect in the 2018 cycle, according to 247 Sports.

Pitts received more than 20 scholarships coming out of high school. He thrived there as a tight end and defensive end. Versatility was on display at Florida, too; he was frequently split out wide, was the backside receiver on a lot of 3x1 sets, and his route tree was extensive in Dan Mullen’s offense.

He was also used inline, in the slot, as an H-Back, and was frequently utilized in motion to help Florida’s offense gain an edge on the defense.

Pitts solidified his spot as the top tight end in the draft this season. He recorded 43 catches for 770 yards and 12 touchdowns. He won the Mackey Award, the CFPA Tight End trophy, was a Biletnikoff finalist, was a top 10 Heisman finalist, and was a unanimous First Team All-American. He also was a Walter Camp Player of the Year and Maxwell Award semifinalist while earning the First Team All-SEC honor.

Notables

He was spotted in a walking boot on his left foot in 2019, and he hurt the same foot in a loss to Texas A&M in 2020, but he played the next week. He landed in the concussion protocol during the Georgia game, and he failed to return to the field in that 2020 contest.

Traits

A great football player with a rare type of receiving chops for the tight end position. He has good height, solid weight, and is a bit lean in the lower half, with long limbs. He possesses very good athletic ability and moves very well in space. He has burst, a second gear, good agility, and excellent change of direction. He won’t blow anyone away with pure speed, and he may test as a 4.6 40-yard-dash type of athlete.

He has nuanced releases off the line of scrimmage; he can open outside and explode back inside (diamond type of releases) while using his hands well to create extra separation. He fires his feet and relies on subtleties, quickness, and an excellent ability to sink his hips and explode to help sell breaks.

Also uses shuffle, blade, and speed releases to win (has the hip flexibility to bend and reduce surface area while not losing momentum). Beats press coverage with his ability to release and power through cornerbacks with play strength--he can win both ways. He possesses good footwork throughout his route stem and uses tempo well to set up defensive backs.

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On shorter routes, Pitts uses quick push-offs to create space; he quickly gets his body turned towards the quarterback and maintains momentum with good play speed. I love his ability to start and stop his routes on a dime quickly. Did well creating separation against quality opponents in the SEC; his separation ability was maximized by an excellent understanding of how to sell, run routes, and break on hard angles.

He may not be someone who consistently creates separation purely off-speed--he won’t be the fastest tight end in the league, but he understands how to get open and how to manipulate defensive backs.

He understands how to find voids in zone coverage and does a really good job out positioning and not being “blanketed” against cornerbacks in man coverage on horizontal and vertical routes. He also brings an incredibly large catch radius that allows him to jump over defenders and secure high throws.

My favorite part of Pitts game is his ability to adjust, control his body, and make incredibly tough catches away from his frame. He brings excellent concentration to the game.

He was excellent on quick slants and back shoulder throws; even when he didn’t have a lot of time, he located the football and would secure it through contact - he has great contested catch ability. Strong hands, can leap well and is a true threat in the short, intermediate, and long parts of the field.

His incredible versatility will torment defensive coordinators as they struggle to know what personnel to employ. He will also be a nightmare to guard in the red zone. Will have a size advantage and, against some cornerbacks, will have a lower body explosive advantage; combine those traits with his long arms, concentration, and contested catch ability, and you have a great red zone threat for an offense.

Pitts gives a lot of effort when blocking, and he made strides from 2019 to 2020, but he’s not ideal as a blocker. Evan Engram comparisons are lazy--Pitts is far superior to Engram as a prospect, but Pitts doesn’t have the frame to hold up EDGEs at the point of attack consistently. He does possess very quick feet in pass protection but has to do a better job framing his blocks and not lunging.

Pitts can stalemate, lockout, and hold the point of attack at a solid rate on base type blocks as a run blocker. Pitts could improve when pulling on split-zone or counter; location skills aren’t the greatest in space, and he doesn’t do the best job leveraging his hands, establishing contact, and paving the way for the running back. He may be used as an offensive weapon who lines up inside at times, but his primary threat will be as a receiver or a big slot.

Engram failed to be the tight end that Jason Garrett envisioned. I think it’s fair to say that Garrett maybe didn’t utilize Engram to his potential, but it’s fair to chastise Engram for the drops and errors in the quick game. I don’t feel Pitts would make those same mistakes--his overall receiving skills are already much better than Engram’s, and he’s not in the league yet.

Overall, Pitts is going to be a difference-making receiving threat who can be a mismatch nightmare in the NFL. His receiving skills, release, and route running, combined with his exceptional balance and body control, are going to make him a household name early in his career. He may not be a traditional type of tight end. But with the NFL constantly evolving, Pitts figures to be a big-bodied creative receiving option that will be selected in the first round. 


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