2021 NFL Draft Scouting Reports: Kyle Pitts
By Charlie Campbell
Summary: Kyle Pitts one of the SEC's breakout players of 2019 producing, an excellent season. After serving as a backup in 2018, Pitts exploded on the scene as a sophomore. On the year, he hauled in 54 receptions for 649 yards and five touchdowns. The season could have been bigger, however, Florida had a deep stable of receivers to spread the ball around. Pitts still produced a lot of big plays for the Gators.
Pitts absolutely dominated the competition in the odd 2020 season, catching 43 passes for 770 yards and 12 touchdowns from only eight games. He missed a few games with injury, was held out versus LSU to protect him for the SEC Championship and then sat out Florida's meaningless bowl game. Pitts opened 2020 by dominating Ole Miss to the tune of eight receptions for 170 yards and four touchdowns. He put together other monster performances, including against Kentucky (5-99-3), Tennessee (7-128) and Alabama (7-129-1). If Pitts eight-game average production were maintained across a full 13-game season, he would have produced a stat line of 70 catches for 1,252 yards with 20 touchdowns.
Week after week in 2020, Pitts showed NFL teams saw everything they could hope to see out of a receiving tight end. He demonstrated the speed to run past defensive backs and get open vertically. His 71-yard touchdown against Ole Miss was astounding with the way he ran away from the defensive backs, and the Rebels couldn't catch him from behind. All year, Pitts used his size to win 50-50 passes, showed good hands, ran excellent routes, and was utterly unstoppable. He went up against some secondaries that were comprised of future NFL competitors, but even the guys from Georgia's, Kentucky's, Texas A&M's and Alabama's secondaries who will get drafted were dominated by Pitts.
As a receiving weapon, Pitts is a once-in-a-decade-caliber prospect who is a mismatch nightmare similar to a Travis Kelce or Calvin Johnson. Pitts is fast for a tight end and really fires off the ball to get into the secondary. Not only is Pitts fast to find openings downfield, but he is a smooth mover who glides through the defense and is able to generate separation from his route-running as well. He has shocking change-of-direction skills with a burst out of his breaks that takes defensive backs by surprise and creates separation. Pitts has impressive suddenness and explosiveness for a tight end, and really, he moves like a big wide receiver.
Pitts is an amazing weapon on 50-50 passes, and he is never really covered because of his ability to make acrobatic grabs over defenders. Pitts uses his tall and long frame to make catches over defensive backs, and he is a tremendous weapon in the red zone thanks to his size mismatch ability. With his leaping ability and superb body control, Pitts has a huge catch radius, so even when defenders do everything right, Pitts can make big plays above them. As a red-zone player, Pitts could be among the best in the NFL.
After the catch, Pitts' speed and agility allow him to pick up good yardage, and he had some superb runs after the catch as a sophomore and junior. Defensive backs can't cover Pitts' size, and even his speed, athleticism, and agility was too much for SEC cornerbacks, who he constantly burned. Linebackers have no prayer of covering Pitts because he is way too fast and athletic for them.
Pitts runs excellent routes and is adept at finding the soft spot in zone coverage. He tracks the ball very well and shows impressive hands to snatch passes out of the air. Via his soft hands, Pitts does not have to body catch and is very calm and fearless to make receptions with defenders closing in on him. With his great athleticism, he makes some difficult catches look easy with astounding highlight-reel catches.
Team sources say Pitts is not a good blocker, but he is not bad and willingly contributes. Pitts fights and gives a good effort. Not having the desire to block is a common issue for receiving tight ends, but Pitts does not fall into the trap. While he is not a forceful blocker, Pitts is actually tries and does not take plays off.
"Pitts is a generational talent and really is a positionless player. We think he runs well enough to play wide receiver and think he could be a poor man's Calvin Johnson at wideout," said one director of college scouting. "On top of being a freak athlete, he's a great kid and hard worker. So you know he's safe to pan out into being a special player when you combine his intangibles with his rare skill set.
Sources from multiple teams called Pitts a high intangibled player, and teams will love having him in their building with his work ethic along with being a good teammate. It would make sense for Pitts to pursue being listed as a wide receiver in the NFL because that position pays better than tight end. Being designated as a wide recevier would be especially valuable when it comes to a franchise tag and negotiating his second contract. Pitts' pro team also might want to protect him from injury by lining him up wide and reduced how much he has to block defensive linemen and linebackers. Team sources note Pitts is not a great blocker, but is willing, fights, and gives a good effort.
While three NFL teams WalterFootball spoke with think Pitts runs well enough to play wide receiver, sources from four other teams disagree, believing he is just a tight end. Those four felt Pitts was elite as tight end prospect and worthy a top-10 selection, but they did not feel he was fast enough to play wide receiver in the at the next level.
"[Pitts] is a stud and has a chance to be the next great pass-receiving tight end," said a director of college scouting. "The physical composition is there. The athletic ability and speed is there as well. Matching up against him is going to be a nightmare. All that said he is a generational talent at the tight end position."
A national scout said some thing similar, "[Pitts] will stay at tight end [and] be a potential All-Pro. Second-overall prospect is possible, and he's definitely top five. He's a taller, longer Travis Kelce with a little less bulk. Positional value is only thing that is working against [Pitts], but he will still go top 10."
Another director of scouting had a Hall of Famer in mind as well when watching Pitts, "I think Pitts will run well, but he will be a tight end, and could end up being a Tony Gonzalez-type tight end."
Sources from all seven teams agrred Pitts is definitely worth a top-10 pick and it would not be a reach to take him in the top-five choice. They all said Pitts graded out higher than other recent top-20 tight end prospects like T.J. Hockenson, Eric Ebron and O.J. Howard. Considering there are teams that have Pitts as their second-highest graded player, he has a real shot at going in the top five, and it sounds unlikely that he will get out of the top 10.
Player Comparison: Travis Kelce/Calvin Johnson. As the team sources said above, they feel Pitts could be an elite receiving tight end like Kelce or Gonzalez. If Pitts moves to wide receiver, they feel he could be a poor man's Calvin Johnson.
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