An absolute freak of an athlete, Florida’s Kyle Pitts is one of the top regarded targets for the first round in the 2021 NFL Draft and the best tight end.
He’s essentially a wide receiver in a tight end’s body. His size and athleticism has made him an absolute offensive weapon for the Gators. Listed at 6-foot-6 and 246 pounds, Pitts has received comparison to Las Vegas Raiders star tight end Darren Waller, who has been arguably a top-two tight end in the league this year. Not a bad comparison, eh?
Pitts has been able to haul in 43 receptions for 770 yards and 12 touchdowns, which the touchdown total is good to tie him for third in the nation. He’s been predicted as high as No. 4 overall in some mock drafts, but for the most part, is predicted to fall somewhere in the middle of the first round.
With that said, here are four ideal landing spots for Florida tight end Kyle Pitts in the 2021 NFL Draft.
New England Patriots
After years of having arguably the best tight end in NFL history, the Patriots tight end position has essentially been nonexistent in the passing game the last two seasons.
Last season was the first without Rob Gronkowski in New England and the combination of Ben Watson, Matt LaCosse, and Ryan Izzo combined for a total of 36 receptions and just over 400 yards. Gronk had more than that alone in the year prior in just 13 games.
This year has been even worse, with Ryan Izzo essentially being the only tight end in passing game and collecting 13 receptions for 199 yards. Despite using two picks in the third round last draft on Dalton Keane and Devin Asiasi, both have battled injuries and only Keane has seen any game time, playing in just two games.
Bottom line – the Patriots need a tight end. Desperately. For the first time in years, they will have a mid-round draft pick. If Pitts is on the board, there should be no hesitation to draft him and bolster their weak receiving corps.
Los Angeles Chargers
Now, the Chargers going after Pitts is a decision that has to be made after they figure out what they’re going to do with Hunter Henry. Henry is currently playing on the franchise tag for an AAV of $10.6 million. Before both Travis Kelce and George Kittle signed their huge extensions, Henry was the highest paid tight end based on AAV.
With Henry having his best season, it will come at a price for the Chargers to keep him. A big price. They paid him $10.6 million after injury-riddled seasons in a bit of a head-scratching move. Now, with Henry already having a career-high in targets and the possibility of new career-highs in yards and touchdowns by the end of the year, it’s likely he’ll be asking for more.
He’s had some great chemistry with rookie Justin Herbert and that connection seems to be working very well. But the price that it could come at to bring Henry back could be too much, especially considering his play on the field doesn’t exactly make the price-tag.
The Chargers are looking a having to chose between Henry and defensive end Melvin Ingram to bring back. A cheaper, possibly better option at tight end could be for the taking in the first round of the NFL Draft in Kyle Pitts.
The Panthers are in a similar situation to the one New England is in. The days of feeding Greg Olsen throw after throw are gone. And what they have done to try and replace his production has been minimal.
Ian Thomas was given the reigns to the TE1 position with Olsen out of the picture, but the third-year tight end has failed to take advantage of the opportunities. He’s only brought in 19 catches for 146 yards and a touchdown this season.
Now part of that has to do with the fact that the Panthers have three good wide receivers that have garnered most of the targets. Both DJ Moore and Robby Anderson have over 1,000 yards receiving, making Carolina the only team this season with two wide receivers reaching 1,000 yards. And Curtis Samuel has been as strong of a WR3 as you will find.
But now imagine throwing a bonafide stud like Pitts in that mix? And a healthy Christian McCaffrey. You could argue that Carolina immediately would have one of the highest touted offensive groups in the league.
I wouldn’t have had the Bengals in play for Kyle Pitts two weeks ago, but after two straight wins, the Bengals have dropped out of a top-five pick and it looks like taking star offensive lineman Penei Sewell will be out of the picture for them.
They certainly have a number of needs outside of tight end and could go any direction besides quarterback with their pick, but tight end is a big need. Veteran C.J. Uzomah will be coming off a nasty Achilles injury he suffered early in the year, and while Drew Sample has been a pleasant surprise in his place, he isn’t the long-term answer.
It’s been a bit of a revolving door at tight end in recent years for the Bengals. It’s been a different tight end as the TE1 for years now and the Bengals haven’t had a tight end go for over 500 yards in a season since Tyler Eifert in 2015. It’s time the team invest and get a tight end that can be the tight end of the future.
A duo of Kyle Pitts and Joe Burrow has the potential to be deadly. Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins offer two solid young options at wide receiver, along with Joe Mixon in the backfield to round out the offense. But Burrow needs a tight end and the answer could be Pitts in the 2021 NFL Draft.