Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
After failing to secure reelection as draft pick selector for the Philadelphia Eagles after my, frankly, stellar drafting of an eventual top 10 pick at 21 last season, I have been left with no choice but to regroup. And if I could not pick for the Eagles, I was going to take the next best option: Pick where the Eagles were supposed to draft. While I do not hate the trade, as getting a first back in the deal is good value, as I prepared my write up for this selection my approval of the trade did diminish a little as I thought about what could have been.
Sadly, I am not here to talk about the Eagles. I am here today on behalf of the Miami Dolphins. And with the 6th overall pick in the 2021 Bleeding Green Nation community mock draft, the Miami Dolphins select: Kyle Pitts, Tight End, Florida.
Before I get into my defense of the player, I want to address a frequent argument against this pick. Drafting a tight end in the first round, let alone the top 10, is not good value. Taking a tight end this high is unrealistic and an NFL will rarely spend such a high pick on tight end. While there may be some merit to this argument for most tight ends, I believe this argument is overblown, especially for a prospect as good as Kyle Pitts.
First, the notion that teams do not value tight ends high enough to justify a first-round pick is not supported by draft history. To the contrary, teams have drafted a tight end in the first round in 15 of the last 20 drafts. In fact, over the last 20 years, 21 tight ends were drafted in the first including 6 over the last four years. Moreover, this is not limited to late first round picks. Since 2004, four tight ends have gone in the top 10 including: TJ Hockenson in 2019 (8th overall), Eric Ebron in 2014 (10th overall), Vernon Davis in 2006 (6th overall), and Kellen Winslow Jr. in 2004 (6th overall). While there are booms and busts at tight end, like any position in the draft, tight ends tend to have a lower bust rate than most positions in the draft. Typically, most tight ends who are selected in the first-round tend to go on to be, at a minimum, solid starters for their team.
Moreover, as recent drafts have demonstrated, the tight end role in the modern NFL offense has expanded over the last few years, with multiple tight end sets becoming more popular every year. According to Sharp Football Stats, the reliance on two TE formations has increased every year since 2018: growing from 20% in 2018, to 24% in 2020, with the use of multiple TE sets growing from 23% to 28% in that same time period.
In the first two years of the Brian Flores regime, the Dolphins have exceeded the league average in its use of multiple TEs. In 2020, Miami’s offense utilized 2 or more TE’s on 35% of its snaps, which is 7% higher than league average. As a result, tight ends have played a prominent role in the Dolphins’ receiving game. In 2020, Mike Gesicki was second only to DeVante Parker in targets (85), receptions (53), and yards (703). That reliance on TEs only increased when Tua Tagovailoa took over the starting job last season, with a TE frequently finishing first or second on the team in total targets, receptions, and yards.
But I am not here to defend the importance of the tight end position in the modern NFL. I am here to talk about Kyle Pitts, a potential generational talent. No scratch that. Pitts is a generational talent at the tight end position. When Calvin Johnson and Travis Kelce keep showing up as your comparable player, you know you have something special.
Let’s start with his measurables. At 6’6”, 245 pounds, Pitts is built like your ideal tight end. From there it only gets better. Pitts has an absolutely incredible wingspan of 83 3/8”, which, according to Pro Football Focus, is a longer wingspan than any wide receiver or tight end in the last twenty years. Between his wingspan and his height, Pitts sports an unreal catch radius.
What is most surprising about Pitts is how fast he is for a player his size. At his pro day, Pitts ran a 4.44 forty yard dash, the fastest time for a tight end since Evan Engram (who ran a 4.42 but was also shorter and 10 pounds lighter than Pitts). To put that forty time in perspective, Pitts’ time is within .02 seconds of the times Justin Jefferson, DJ Moore, Calvin Ridley, Chris Godwin, Amari Cooper ran in their combines, and faster than Jerry Jeudy, Deebo Samuel, AJ Brown, Christian Kirk, DeVante Parker, Stefon Diggs, and DeAndre Hopkins.
Now I can already hear the detractors saying, pro day forty times are historically faster than combines. Usually there is merit to this argument. Each facility has its own surfaces and conditions that can affect how fast a player performs, many of which facilitate faster times than Indianapolis. Surprisingly, that is not the case in Florida. According to Ryan McCrystal at numberFire, since 2011, Florida players on average have run .5% slower forty times than they ran at the combine. In fact, since 2013, only one Florida player has improved their forty time from their combine time. As shocking as it sounds, Pitts may very well have run an even faster forty-time had the NFL not cancelled the combine.
Looking at the tape, there is a whole lot to love. On top of his speed and size, he’s an excellent route runner, with tremendous burst out of his breaks and great change of direction speed. You have heard of QBs who can make all the throws? Well Pitts can make all the catches. 50/50 ball: Check. High-point: Check. Contested balls: Check. He can do it all based on his height, massive wingspan, great athleticism and excellent hands. If the ball is in his general area, he more than likely is coming down with it. Pitts adjusts well to the ball and has excellent body control. He has the speed to create separation against corners and is a flat-out nightmare for linebackers in coverage. On top of that, Pitts is a coach’s dream. He’s a hard worker, an excellent teammate, and just flat out loves the game.
From a production standpoint, Pitts delivered. In his breakout season in 2019, Pitts registered 54 receptions, 649 yards and 5 touchdowns. A good season that probably would have been better but for the fact that Florida had a excellent offensive depth at the skill position that season. In 2020, Pitts was a monster. In just eight games, Pitts managed to pull in 43 receptions, 770 yards and 12 touchdowns. If you have any doubt about his ability, go watch the highlights from his game against Ole Miss, where he posted 8 receptions for 170 yards and 4 touchdowns!
In terms of weaknesses, Pitts could stand to improve a blocker. That is not to say he’s a bad blocker, he’s not. In fact, he’s a pretty good as a blocker at the second level. But he could be more forceful on the block when held on the line. That said, held back on the line, he gives it his all and he never takes plays off. Regardless, if Pitts is staying in to block on a play, that’s already a win for the defense. While he has shown he is quite capable racking up yards after the catch, he could improve on his yards after contact, having only 10 broken tackles in his career. But those are both minor weaknesses in comparison to just the embarrassment of riches Pitts brings to the table.
Pitts is a game-changer that instantly makes the Dolphins’ offense better. Having a dominant tight end who can get open, reliably catch that ball, and is great at adjusting on broken plays is a young quarterback’s dream. As guys like George Kittle and Travis Kelce have proven, a truly elite tight end can create matchup nightmares that opposing defense must account for. Pitts can be that type of player and is well worth the pick at 6.
Do you approve of this pick?
This poll is closed
2021 BGN Mock Draft Order
1) Jaguars (Phoenix X Minimus): QB Trevor Lawrence
2) Jets (eagles.north.of.the.border): QB Zach Wilson
3) 49ers (I Need a Username): QB Trey Lance
4) Falcons (chewy wellington): OT Penei Sewell
5) Bengals (Dr_Horrible): WR Ja’Marr Chase
6) Dolphins (20Safety_Hazard): TE Kyle Pitts
7) Lions (drc242):
8) Panthers (wildcatlh):
9) Broncos (ItownBallers22):
10) Cowboys (Kephas):
11) Giants (Billmington):
12) Eagles (ablesser88):
13) Chargers (Georgia_eagle):
14) Vikings (Philliesandthebees):
15) Patriots (SakPrescott):
16) Cardinals (Carson Wentzs ACL):
17) Raiders (dshelton5):
18) Dolphins (J. Wil):
19) Football Team (Negadelphia Norm):
20) Bears (Happy24):
21) Colts (CSsdV):
22) Titans (Friendly Neighborhood Philly Fan):
23) Jets (Asap Stocky):
24) Steelers (Gregnado):
25) Jaguars (“Snax”):
26) Browns (gerouxman1956):
27) Ravens (Brendanekstrom):
28) Saints (grantspectations):
29) Packers (Philly_Philly):
30) Bills (doublefry):
31) Chiefs (Leo Bedio):
32) Buccaneers (phuckdallas):
Now it’s time for you to vote for who YOU think should be selected in the 2021 BGN Community Consensus Mock Draft.
Who should the Miami Dolphins draft at No. 6?
This poll is closed
TE Kyle Pitts
WR DeVonta Smith
WR Jaylen Waddle
OT Rashawn Slater
1) Jaguars: QB Trevor Lawrence
2) Jets: QB Zach Wilson:
3) 49ers: QB Justin Fields
4) Falcons: OT Penei Sewell
5) Bengals: WR Ja’Marr Chase