If it isn’t yet, it should now be common knowledge among Falcons fans that Terry Fontenot will use a “best player available” approach in the draft. I made a case for Penei Sewell if he falls to the Falcons at four, and now I will do the same for Kyle Pitts. This will look eerily similar to the reasoning behind taking DeVonta Smith, as Chase pointed out. The former Gator could be the best prospect in this draft not named Trevor Lawrence, at the very least the best prospect at a skill position.
I am torn between Pitts and Ja’Marr Chase as my WR1, and yes, Pitts is essentially a wide receiver. Standing 6’6” and weighing 240-pounds, the former Gator is the same size as Calvin Johnson — 6’5” and 236-pounds. Just like Johnson, he plays just as big as his size indicates; Pitts’combination of size, athleticism, and hands makes him a multi-level threat for creative offensive coordinators.
He’s a former quarterback, so his perspective at tight end is different than many others at his position. Robert Tonyan is a good example of just how playing quarterback can benefit a tight end at the next level. 11 touchdowns, tied with Travis Kelce for most among tight ends, on the highest-scoring offense in the league. Tonyan is showing exactly what he can do, citing his background as a quarterback as a proponent of his success.
“He understands the game from a quarterback’s perspective, so he knows defenses, spacing and where to be at the right time,” says Packers backup quarterback Tim Boyle, one of Tonyan’s best friends.
Pitts is potionless. He can align on the boundary, in the slot, or with his hand in the dirt. He’s as good of a route-runner as any receiver in this draft with great burst out of his break, giving him elite change-of-direction skills for a person of his size. Pitts is as good after-the-catch as he is before, a rare and tremendous red-zone threat. Excellent at beating one-on-one press, but also great at finding the soft spot in zones. The former Gator, much like Julio Jones, makes normal 50-50 balls, closer to 60-40 in favor of Pitts.
Behold All Of #Florida TE Kyle Pitts Touchdowns From The 2020 Season
PFF Grade: 96.2 (1st Among TE)
2020 Stats (8 Games): 43 Rec, 770 Yards, 12 TD pic.twitter.com/KqFuvLzRvN
— Steve Frederick (@_SteveFrederick) December 29, 2020
The only knock on Pitts is his inability to block. From everything I have seen, he is a sustainable and willing one-on-one run-blocker. He isn’t a Mercedes Lewis-type that is going to act as sixth offensive linemen, but he can do enough, in my opinion.
Watching Georgia CB Tyson Campbell. Run play and I hear a lot of about Kyle Pitts lack of ability to be an in line blocker. Small sample size but on the one rep I paid attention to him as a blocker.. great run blocking rep. The effort is there. I'll keep looking out for it. pic.twitter.com/s7XSevWxfN
— Crocky (@eric_crocker) February 1, 2021
The “F” tight end means Pitts is used outside, in the slot, and in-line in multiple ways in both the running and passing game. Matt LaFleur did a great job utilizing Robert Tonyan in this exact way in 2020. If Arthur Smith can use Pitts in the same manner, he really could be worth the fourth overall pick.
It makes sense to grab Pitts or someone of his caliber (Ja’Marr Chase) before Julio Jones’ contract is up. Calvin Ridley is a shaky WR1 in Atlanta, and when Jones eventually leaves, Pitts is as capable as anyone to replace Jones’ massive presence on the field.
Photo: Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire