With a unique blend of size and speed, Florida’s 6-foot-5, 245-pound hybrid tight end Kyle Pitts has been branded by some pundits as a unicorn. This new nickname reflects the rarity of a player of Pitts’ caliber.
He presents a unique dilemma for NFL teams heading into the 2021 draft. For one, will the team who takes him do so as a tight end or wide receiver? Also, how will the 31 other franchises defend him?
When Dan Mullen -- Pitts’ head coach at Florida -- was asked about Pitts, he reflected on the uncertainty that comes with defending his former star pass-catcher.
“The only way you can defend a unicorn is with another unicorn,” Mullen said. “If you don’t have a unicorn on defense, you’ve got a problem.”
Pitts, who spoke with the media after an electrifying pro day that saw him run a 4.44 40-yard dash, embraced the unicorn label.
“I feel like, when people call me a unicorn, it’s kind of a special nickname,” Pitts said. “Because unicorns, you don’t find many of them. So, being able to do things that other tight ends can’t is kind of special.”
As he has risen up draft boards, Pitts has continued to flash the athleticism that has made him a hot commodity for many teams. It’s expected he’ll go in the top 10, and he could be the first non-quarterback selected.
There’s plenty of debate about where he fits in an offense, whether it be as a tight end or a wide receiver. But, as of now, he says that every NFL team he's been in contact with has talked to him about playing tight end.
“No teams have mentioned me playing receiver,” Pitts said. “They’ve mentioned using me in different areas, but not specifically at receiver.”
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Pitts could potentially be an option for the Lions at No. 7 overall. Should new Detroit general manager Brad Holmes select Pitts, the Florida product and fellow tight end T.J. Hockenson could cause problems for opposing defenses.
“I think that would cause a lot of problems,” Pitts said. “Because two great tight ends who can run routes, block, makes it hard for a defense to scheme it up. Having those two tight ends who can do different things in different areas, that’s something that can be difficult for a defense to guard.”
Pitts is an exceptional pass-catcher and a physical beast.
He didn’t have to do a ton of run-blocking while at Florida, playing 131 snaps as a run-blocker in 2020. However, his grades from Pro Football Focus were high in all categories, meaning that his versatility will be coveted.
Although the Lions by no means need Pitts -- or any tight end for that matter -- his ability could take the Lions’ offense to another level, and might make him too good to pass up for Holmes & Co. at No. 7.
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