Draft Analysis: Kyle Pitts Florida
Updated: Feb 18
20 years old
This years NFL Draft is loaded with talent. This is one of the deepest drafts for QBs and WRs in recent years. Teams like the Jets, Eagles, and Bengals want to get their young QB a solid WR to help build around. The one name I do not hear when teams are talking about WRs is Kyle Pitts. Before anyone says anything, I am aware that he is listed as a TE. Let me ask you something though, if Kyle Pitts was listed as WR on your team would he be the WR1? I am an Eagles fan and if he lands in Philly he will immediately be WR1 and TE1. Pitts is a generational talent, and I feel people need to start to realize how good of a player he is.
As always we need to start with his stats. The stats do not tell the whole story on a player, but when it comes to a skill player, it tells a lot about the player. In his true freshman season, Pitts had 3 receptions, 73 yards, and 1 TD. Not great, but for a true freshman in the SEC, it is pretty good. In his sophomore season, he had 54 receptions, 649 yards, and 5 TDs. In his final season at Florida he had 43 receptions, 770 yards, and 12 touchdowns in 8 games. He averaged 18 yards per catch in 2020. Those numbers are crazy for a tight end. He led all TE's in yards and touchdowns. He was also 3rd amongst all receivers for touchdowns with 12. Imagine what his numbers would have looked like if he played the entire regular season and bowl game.
Kyle Pitts has a lot of strengths. I am not going to exaggerate it, but if I went into detail about all of this strengths it would be longer than most people's thesis'. There is no doubt that he is an elite pass catcher, he is crazy fast for his size, and is a strong route runner. There is no need to watch film on that. If he is 1 on 1 with a defender, it was almost guaranteed he was going to win, and pick up a lot more yards after the catch.
I will not go into much detail about his size and strength because you all should know how big and strong he is. However, if you need a reminder check this play out.
Every receiver heading into this draft has speed, can catch, and run routes, but what makes Pitts better than all the rest? I am going to dive into 3 areas that I feel show why Pitts is the most elite player in this draft.
His ability to manipulate a defense is the best I have ever seen. It is no secret that Kyle Trask's number one target was Pitts, and when in doubt he will almost certainly throw it to him. His ability to manipulate and trick the defense is remarkable. This helps spread the offense and keep the defense guessing. Watch this play, and then we can break this down.
In the play above, Pitts is lined up like he is going to block. Once the ball is snapped, he sprints out for a deep vertical. The defense is not ready and it turns out to be a one-on-one play. The lone safety in the upper field recognizes that a 1v1 play with Pitts is not going to end well and he attempts to make a play on Pitts. Pitts' route is able to disguise the fact that the original target is actually not him, and the original target is wide open on the opposite side of the field. It is plays like these that Florida was able to capitalize on Pitts’ manipulation.
He is so manipulative that you are unsure if he is going to run vertically, run an out route, or stay put and block. That takes us into his next strength which is his willing to block. I have been trying to find a weakness for him and everyone I have spoken to has said his blocking. I have watched a lot of his film, and I do not see a weakness. He is not a strong blocker, but he is very willing to block. When you have a pass first TE, typically they are unwilling to block. Pitts is very willing to block and has the strength and size to do it. This may be his most underrated skill. You can teach a player blocking skills, but you can not teach the willingness to block. Even if he is not running a route, he is still very active in the play, and that is a big upside for him.
Everyone wants a TE who can catch the ball and who can score. However, every NFL team wants a TE who can block down field. He is not a perfect blocker, but his ability to block and the fact that he is willing to block is a huge upside for him. It circles back to his manipulation of a defense. A defense has no idea if he is going to block or go out for a pass, and in both scenarios he will make a difference. Check out this run against Georgia! He comes across the line, gets a solid hit on the defender. This block helped go from a 1 yard loss to a 5 yard gain. Not a big play, but football is a game of inches and every play matters.
When Kyle Trask gets drafted in the NFL this April, the first person he better thank is Kyle Pitts. I have watched a lot of film on Florida, and there is no question Kyle Pitts made his QB better than what he is. That takes me into his final major strength. It is easy for QB to make everyone around them better, but it is crazy to think a TE can make a similar impact. Kyle Pitts makes everyone around him better. Defenses need to constantly change their game plan to accommodate Pitts. When Pitts lines up, you do not know if he will going out for a pass or blocking. In either scenario, he is just as impactful on the play.
Watch this play against Texas A&M. Trask throws a high off target pass, but Pitts uses his length and speed to not only make the catch, but continue running to pick up more yards. This play does a great job at showing all 3 points I have brought up. He starts off blocking and tricking the defense into thinking he is not going out for a pass. He gets a small block on the outside rusher, and finally takes a bad pass and turns into positive yardage.
When I watch Kyle Pitts, there is really no player like him. I have not seen a player with so much upside and talent since Saquon Barkley. Kyle Pitts is a positionless player that can play multiple offensive positions. However, he is listed as TE for now and when you compare him as a TE, the best comparison is Darren Waller of the Las Vegas Raiders. Waller is very much a pass first TE. He is not a great blocker, but he is turning into a glorified WR. He was the Raiders #1 receiver in yardage, receptions, and TDs. Him and Pitts have similar builds. Both are 6'6". Pitts is going to turn into a teams #1 receiver. He is that good. The thing that puts Pitts above Waller is his ability to block.
Pitts vs Chase, Smith, and Waddle
There is no question that the 3 big WR prospects in this draft are Ja'Marr Chase (LSU), DeVonta Smith (Alabama), and Jaylen Waddle (Alabama.) Kyle Pitts is the clear top TE in this draft. There is no debate on that. However, when you compare Pitts to those 3, he has the potential to be just as good, and teams should consider taking him over one of those 3. He is taller and bigger than all 3 players, and even though he is not as quick. He is still very quick for his size. You add in his size, speed, and his catching ability, he is just as good as those 3.
Kyle Pitts is a generational talent. There is no question about that. He is going to start his rookie season, and make an instant impact. I do not believe I have heard anyone say Ja'Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith, or Jaylen Waddle are generational talent. When there is a generational talent on the board, why not jump at the opportunity. Even if a team has a player at that position. Pitts can play multiple positions and can fit in many scenarios.
Kyle Pitts has yet to play a snap in the NFL, but I am about to make some very big assumptions. Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez need to enjoy their TE receiving records while they have them, because Kyle Pitts is going to break them by the end of his career. His receiving style and skill set are as good as anyone in this draft. The average height of a NFL cornerback is 5'11" and Kyle Pitts is 6'6". If he gets the right QB and the right play calling, he has the potential of being an all time great.
Best landing spot?
Any team that has the opportunity to draft Pitts should take the opportunity. If I am Jacksonville, even though it is clear they are taking Trevor Lawrence, they should still consider it. He will fit into any offense and will be an instant impact for any team he plays on. I am going to be selfish, and say I really hope he ends up in Philadelphia. The Eagles have zero receivers that I trust and Zach Ertz is expected to employed elsewhere next season. Give Jalen Hurts a brand new target that I am sure he will fall in love with.