After clocking a 4.46 forty at Florida’s pro day, the possibility of Pitts becoming a top-five pick is very real. Projecting a prospect’s success in the NFL is very difficult. I try to look at two factors – college production and traits that translate to the NFL. Most teams value NFL translatable traits far more than college production. They want a player that has produced great results and shows signs of growth. University of Florida’s Kyle Pitts is a perfect blend of both of these factors. So much so that NFL analysts are calling Pitts a ‘generational tight end prospect.’ Is Pitts really that elite of a prospect?
Elite College Production
Kyle Pitts didn’t play too much his freshman year at Florida, but during the 2019-20 season, he really began to emerge. He finished his sophomore season with 54 receptions, 649 yards, and five touchdowns. He ended the season first on the team in receptions, second in receiving yards and third for receiving touchdowns. Pitts also showed the ability to play big in big games. He had eight receptions for 65 yards against Auburn, and four receptions for 78 yards against Georgia.
This past season, 2020-21, Kyle Pitts exploded from a statistical standpoint, all while playing in only eight games. He finished the season with 43 receptions, 770 receiving yards, and 12 touchdowns. He was nearly impossible to keep out of the end zone, and once again proved that he shows up in big games. In his final game of the 2020-21 season, he had seven receptions, 129 yards, and one touchdown. A dominating performance against the Alabama Crimson tide, who would later go on to win the national championship with their loaded NFL-ready roster.
Kyle Pitts was named a Consensus All American at the end of the 2020-2021 season. He would also take home the John Mackey Award for the nation’s top tight end. He was named two-time First Team All-SEC (2019, 2020) and was a finalist for the Maxwell Award and the Biletnikoff Award. Some analysts have even called Pitts’ past season, “by far the best in modern TE history,” and it’s hard to disagree. From a statistical standpoint, it’s impossible to refute Pitts’ dominance over these last two years, especially this past season.
NFL Ready Traits
Unfortunately for some NFL prospects, gaudy college statistics aren’t enough to improve the draft stock. Interestingly enough for Pitts, his NFL translatable traits may actually outweigh his prolific statistical production. What really jumps off the screen when watching Pitts play is his outstanding athleticism. His vertical leap is tremendous, and he’s consistently shown the ability to get the ball whether it be in the red zone or anywhere else on the field. With his frame and size, he is lightning-fast for the tight end position.
He’s a nightmare cover for linebackers because they can’t keep up with him. He’s a nightmare cover for safeties because he’s too big for them, and he has that exceptional leaping ability. The NFL has moved to an era where extremely gifted athletes can almost become positionless. A knock on Pitts is that he may just be a big receiver, more so than a traditional tight end. To me, that’s not really a knock, but more so a kudos to Pitts’ athletic ability and versatility. He has the height of a tight end and the speed of a receiver. He dominates the middle of the field, and the red zone, which is a skill of tremendous value in both college and the NFL.
He hasn’t shown the ability to be a prolific blocker, but this is something he can definitely work on this offseason. Pitts is a prospect with next-level athleticism at the tight end position that we may have never seen before. His blocking ability will need to improve, but his offensive prowess cannot be denied.
Kyle Pitts NFL Projection
The league has been in the process of a mentality shift across the board for the last few years. Teams have been actively pursuing players that have the ability to play multiple positions. They want players who aren’t a particular mold and can’t be easily anticipated by other teams. Kyle Pitts is that kind of player. For years, teams have been on the hunt for the next Rob Gronkowski after he set the standard of what a generational tight end should look like.
Kyle Pitts is not a Gronk blueprint. He has the same vertical ability, but he’s much skinnier and is less proficient in terms of blocking. Pitts isn’t a particularly bad blocker but pales in comparison to Gronk. That being said, he’s much faster than Gronk has ever been, and has that same ability to take over a game. A Gronk-like tight end has found tremendous success, but now a new tight end build has emerged. Kyle Pitts is the epitome of this new Ferrari-esque tight end. I’ve seen him compared to Darren Waller, and it’s definitely the closest comparison for Pitts that I’ve come across. They both have a similar frame, though Waller definitely has the NFL weight.
Kyle Pitts is a generational tight end, as much as it pains me to use this term. His combination of speed and size is unlike anything we’ve seen at this position. Gronk set the standard, and I believe Pitts has the ability to set a new standard. Kyle Pitts is such a unique prospect, arguably the best receiver in this entire class. There is absolutely no chance he falls out of the top ten. If Pitts is selected by the right team, there’s no doubt in my mind he could go on to have a hall of fame-level career.