Falcons: Similarities between Kyle Pitts and Vernon Davis, is he worth the 4th pick?


The last time a tight end was taken as high as Kyle Pitts is slotted to go was Vernon Davis, who went sixth overall to the 49ers in the 2006 draft. TJ Hockenson went eighth to the Lions in the 2019 draft, but I doubt Pitts falls that far. Hockenson’s athletic profile is also not even close to that of Pitts and Davis.

Davis was widely regarded as the best tight end prospect coming out of Maryland and one that “could crack the top ten.” Some of his combine numbers are actually more impressive than Pitts. The former Florida Gator measured in at 6’6″, 245-pounds, ran his 40-yard dash in a remarkable 4.44 seconds, hit 22 bench press reps of 225-pounds, recorded a 10’9″ broad jump and a 33.5-inch vertical leap. His 83-inch wingspan is longer than any other wide receiver or tight end that has been measured at the NFL combine in the last 20 years.

The former Maryland Terp had superior measurements in every category except height and wingspan. Davis measured 6’3 1/2″, 254-pounds with 32-inch arms. But he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds, benched 225-pounds for 33 reps, leaped 42-inches in the vertical jump, and recorded a 10’9″ broad jump.

Coming out of college, Pitts is a much more refined receiver than Davis was, who was a raw product. Davis’ size was also in question as Marcedes Lewis was in the same class and was the prototypical NFL tight end — 6’6″, 255-pounds. Testing-wise, we have seen a Kyle Pitts before, don’t let your recency bias affect your opinion. But Pitts is so far ahead of where Davis was in terms of on-the-field skills. This is from my non-quarterback prospect rankings featuring Pitts:

He’s positionless, able to 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.

There are physical similarities, but again, at this point in their respective careers, Pitts is a superior tight end. The question is, did the 49ers make a mistake drafting him sixth overall — usually reserved for more-impact positions. In short, yes, they did. It took San Francisco five seasons after taking a tight end sixth overall to finish a season over .500, two of which resulted in ten or more losses. They effectively signed then head coach Mike Singletary‘s termination letter before the 2010 season even finished.

Yes, Kyle Pitts is a tantalizing prospect, and the idea of pairing him with Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Hayden Hurst in Arthur Smith’s offense is tempting. Still, it’s not a conducive way to build a franchise back to a Super Bowl-caliber roster.

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