Todd McShay’s last mock draft was pretty popular with Eagles fans since he had Philadelphia landing Ja’Marr Chase with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. His latest projection for ESPN+ is bound to be much more divisive.
Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
Despite the Eagles’ glaring weakness at wide receiver, I’m mixing it up with Pitts at No. 6. It’d be the 10th time a tight end has been drafted before the first wide receiver off the board, and only four other tight ends have ever been taken in the top six. But here’s the thing: Pitts is more than just a tight end. He’s a matchup nightmare who can line up all over the place, and his great speed, hands and 6-foot-6 size make him extremely difficult to contain. Philadelphia should add receiver help in free agency, but a Pitts-Dallas Goedert pairing is a dream for any offensive coordinator.
Tim McManus on his fit with the Eagles: With Zach Ertz expected to be traded or released, Pitts would immediately assume a co-starter role alongside Goedert. The Eagles used two-tight end sets a league-high 35% of the time last season — a number that would skyrocket toward their 2019 totals (52%) with Pitts in the fold.
Before fully diving into the Pitts discussion yet again, a few notes on the write-up:
- The only four tight ends that were ever taken in the top six: Vernon Davis (2006), Kellen Winslow Jr. (2004), Charle Young (1973), and Riley Odoms (1972).
- Philadelphia should add receiver help in free agency, indeed, but their cap situation likely limits them from doing that.
- Look at the snap percentages that T-Mac posted. 12 personnel just clearly isn’t a base offense. Utilizing two tight end sets can not be the primary impetus for picking Pitts.
Okay. Getting back to Pitts the prospect, he’s clearly an intriguing talent. BGN’s Ben Natan previously wrote about how the Philly native (an Archbishop Wood alumnus) “makes too much sense for the Eagles.”
Former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah actually has Pitts ranked as the No. 3 overall prospect in this year’s class, only behind Trevor Lawrence and Ja’Marr Chase.
Pitts is a long, lean tight end prospect with excellent speed, ball skills and production. He has lined up inline, flexed in the slot and split out wide. He runs routes like a wideout. The former Gator has burst off the line, sets up defenders and explodes out of the break point. He beat upper-echelon SEC cornerbacks on a weekly basis. He builds speed to separate down the seam and tracks the ball naturally down the field. Pitts has an enormous catch radius. He uses his speed to pile up yards after the catch. He showed tremendous improvement as a blocker in 2020. He fits up, doing his best to wrestle and stay attached. He will fall off at times, but the effort is there. Overall, Pitts is a unique talent with the ability to take over a game. He is the definition of a mismatch player.
If you’re worried about the prototype for Pitts, he does draw some favorable NFL comparisons:
Kyle Pitts pic.twitter.com/1M6ZOmrSFd— IgglesNest (@IgglesNest) February 25, 2021
I’ve warmed up to the idea of the Eagles drafting Pitts since there’s legitimate thought he can truly be more than a tight end. I currently have him sixth on my Eagles big board.
2020 Kyle Pitts by where he lined up— Paul Hembekides (@PaulHembo) February 25, 2021
(Rec-Rec yds-Rec TD):
TE right (12-211-3)
TE left (7-242-2)
Slot right (6-96-1)
Slot left (6-49-2)
Wide right (9-139-2)
Wide left (3-33-2)
At 6-6, 240. A unicorn. https://t.co/BPVW9n4Gmy
With that said, I don’t love the Eagles drafting Pitts in McShay’s latest projection. Here’s how he has the top five playing out:
1) Jacksonvile Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
2) New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
3) Carolina Panthers (projected trade up): Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
4) Atlanta Falcon: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
5) Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
At least three quarterbacks going off the board before No. 6 feels like an increasingly likely scenario. Four isn’t impossible, though I have my doubts about Lance going that high. Sewell to Cincy feels like a lock given their need at offensive line.
And so it’s quite possible the Eagles will have their pick of Pitts, Chase, and DeVonta Smith at No. 6. That would sure be nice! Passing on Chase to take Pitts wouldn’t be popular, though:
Given Howie Roseman’s track record, it’s only natural to worry he could outsmart himself once again. Picking Pitts over Chase and Smith could end up being his latest galaxy brain draft mistake. Or maybe Pitts will truly be the next Megatron and he’ll look like a genius.
In any case, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about receiver really needs to be the pick at No. 6. I think there are going to be at least three quarterbacks off the board by the time the Eagles pick. And I don’t think they’re going to trade up again as they did for Carson Wentz.
The receiver position is one that Roseman has really struggled to get right during his tenure. The Eagles finally have a chance to fix that by grabbing a stud pass-catcher at No. 6. It feels like it’s hard for them to go wrong ... and hopefully, that’s the case.
Grade Todd McShay’s mock draft pick (Kyle Pitts at No. 6) for the Eagles
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