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Is he a tight end? Is he a wide receiver? We really don’t know yet but here’s what we do know: Kyle Pitts is an absurd football player.
Pitts is a special prospect and is likely going to be drafted inside the top-10 in April’s NFL draft. He is going to be a very fun player to watch in the league and should be a household name in fantasy football. Of course, his landing spot will impact things but strictly as a player, Pitts is as talented of a tight end prospect as we’ve seen in recent memory.
Kyle Pitts’ college production was off the charts
In just eight games in 2020, Pitts caught 43 balls for a whopping 770 yards and 12 touchdowns, while averaging nearly 18 yards per reception. Pitts was a backup at Florida in 2018 before breaking out at age 19 in 2019, sporting a 17% target share and scoring five touchdowns on 54 receptions as a sophomore. His numbers would have been even better this past season if he didn’t miss a few games due to injury, while also sitting out two games, including the SEC title game. At 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds, Pitts should not be able to move like he does, making him a truly elite prospect and a player that should be viewed more as a pass-catcher than simply a tight end.
Strengths: Kyle Pitts has absurd athleticism
- Freak athlete
- Insane catch radius
- Beats man coverage
- Great after the catch
- Total mismatch
Simply put, Pitts is an absolute freak athlete. Like I said, someone his size should not be able to move like he does. He’s far too fast for linebackers, while he towers over and overpowers defensive backs. Pitts isn’t just a player that finds the soft spots in the zones, either. He can torch man coverage — according to PFF, Pitts averaged 4.91 yards per route run against man coverage last season, the third-highest mark among all players in college football. With his speed, he is a dangerous playmaker deep down the field, as he easily led all tight ends in deep yards (331) and deep catches (10) last year, despite playing just eight games. And with that size/speed combination, Pitts is tough to bring down once the ball is in his hands, as he can shake you or run over you, if he has to. It was also great to see Pitts move around the formation at Florida last year, as he was in-line on 63% of his snaps but also played in the slot just over 30% of the time, which is important in today’s NFL.
Perhaps his best attribute, however, is the fact that Pitts is truly uncoverable. The size helps, but Pitts just high points the football so well, while his body control is elite. He is going to be a red-zone god for whoever is throwing him the football and there is a reason why many people have compared him to Calvin Johnson, which may seem aggressive, but you can certainly see it at times. Eleven of his 43 receptions from a season ago were of the contested catch variety, and he is going to be a total mismatch at all times, especially from inside the 10-yard line. Pitts can also make plays after the catch, as he averaged 6.0 yards after the catch per reception last year, while forcing five missed tackles. And at just 20 years old, Pitts is going to get even better and more well-rounded as a player, which is a very, very frightening thought.
Weaknesses: Kyle Pitts could improve as a run-blocker
- Needs work in run-blocking
The only knock on Pitts’ game is his run-blocking, which could matter or it could be completely irrelevant. It really depends on how teams view him. If they play him in a Mike Gesicki role, he’d rarely be in-line and used more as a glorified slot receiver. Gesicki lined up in the slot nearly 70% of the time in 2020, while operating as an in-line tight end under 20% of the time. Because Pitts doesn’t have the best upper body strength or technique as a run-blocker, that type of role would be very ideal for him and him potentially having that role will depend on who selects him in the upcoming draft. I will say, however, that Pitts isn’t an awful run-blocker. He took strides in that department last season and it isn’t a case of Pitts just lacking the interest or desire. While it is something that he needs to improve on, Pitts could easily improve in that area.
Kyle Pitts’ top fantasy landing spots
There are three landing spots that really, really intrigue me. Two of them will result in better fantasy production. The Cincinnati Bengals likely address offensive tackle or wideout at fifth overall — one of Ja’Marr Chase or Penei Sewell will likely be on the board, so I think whoever is there is the pick. However, Pitts would be awesome alongside Joe Burrow and an obvious upgrade over C.J. Uzomah and Drew Sample, who are more blocking tight ends. The best fit is the Carolina Panthers, though. Again, I think they look to upgrade at quarterback, but offensive coordinator Joe Brady has a track record of putting his players in the best positions to make plays with the football. If they drafted Pitts, Brady wouldn’t have him block, while they need something from the tight end position. Ian Thomas finished ninth among all tight ends in routes run last year (468) but ranked 43rd in receptions. Finally, the San Francisco 49ers could take Pitts at 12th overall and just play positionless football with Pitts and George Kittle, both of whom can line up all over the football field. The targets would likely be inconsistent, but this would be a very fun move for San Francisco’s offense, especially with Kyle Shanahan on the sidelines.