Just who is Kyle Pitts?
With so many mock drafts tabbing Pitts as the Bengals’ likely selection with the No. 5 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, maybe it’s about time to see what all the fuss is about.
“I don’t think (I’ve ever had a tight-end this high on the Big Board),” ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper, Jr. said on a recent First Draft Podcast. ”I mean I go back to Kellen Winslow Sr. (in 1987 NFL Draft). I scouted Kellen Winslow Sr., and it was at Missouri and was a great player for the Chargers. And he had a very high grade when he came out. But when you really go back to tight ends, (Pitts is) a receiving entity, I don’t know how we can...we have to come up with a name for that combo (of receiver and tight end). Because that’s what (Pitts is).
According to Dan Schmelzer of nflmocks.com, Pitts is “is an absolute matchup nightmare on the field,” too big and too fast for linebackers and most defensive backs, and with plenty of speed to separate and stretch the field.
At 6-6 and 246 pounds, the 20-year-old Pitts had 43 catches for 770 yards and 12 touchdowns in only eight games as a junior for the University of Florida this past season. His average of 17.9 yards per reception was two yards better than Alabama’s Heisman Trophy-winning receiver DeVonta Smith.
Pitts began the season with a monster eight-reception, 170-yard, four-touchdown game against Ole Miss, and finished it with seven catches for 129 yards and one score in a loss to Alabama in the SEC championship game.
Most experts regard Pitts as one of the best receiving tight end prospects to come out of the college ranks in decades, reminiscent of another Florida product, Aaron Hernandez.
On a recent edition of ESPN’s College Football Live, Todd McShay listed Pitts as one of the top players in all of college football.
“Kyle Pitts, to me, is a freak,” McShay said. “He’s just different than every other player that I’ve watched in college football on the offensive side. I love the contested catches, 50-50 balls are like 80-20 when you’re throwing to Kyle Pitts.”
Pitts was named winner of the John Mackey Award as college football’s most outstanding tight end, joining Hernandez as only the second tight end in University of Florida history to win the award.
He was also the first tight end to be named as a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, which recognizes college football’s outstanding receiver regardless of position.
“I think the biggest thing is obviously his talent,” said Florida’s offensive coordinator Brian Johnson. “He’s got a ton of God-given ability and he works really, really hard at it. He practices hard. He takes care of his business. He’s very, very mature. He’s very focused and goal-oriented and self-motivated.”
With A.J. Green set to hit free agency and the likelihood that Joe Burrow’s former running mate, Ja’Marr Chase, and even Penei Sewell may be gone by the time the Bengals are on the clock, Pitt is looking more and more like a solid choice. He definitely checks all of the boxes.