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Bengals take the first non-QB in Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest mock draft

Kiper Jr. gifts the Bengals an offensive weapon in this mock draft.

Kentucky vs Florida Photo by Courtney Culbreath/Collegiate Images/Getty Images

The closer we get to April’s NFL Draft, the more we hear about how quarterbacks will dominate the first handful of picks.

Trevor Lawrence is already the face of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Zach Wilson hasn’t been mocked below the second-overall pick in a while, and it’s a safe bet that one more passer will find a new home with the Atlanta Falcons or with another team after trading up with the Miami Dolphins.

In Mel Kiper Jr.’s post-free agency mock draft, he has all of those scenarios happening. Four quarterbacks go off the board before the Cincinnati Bengals get to pick, and with the entirety of their board remaining intact, Kiper Jr. gave them Florida tight end Kyle Pitts.

All along, I’ve thought it was going to be an offensive tackle here, but if Pitts and wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase are on the board, can the Bengals really pass them up? Joe Burrow has to get more playmakers around him. I think Pitts is just too good, and he would instantly upgrade this offense. He is one of the most talented tight ends I’ve ever graded, and there are people in the NFL who think he could be the second-best prospect in this class. With a deep offensive line class, Cincinnati could likely find a starting tackle or guard at the top of Round 2.

Under these circumstances, the Bengals would almost certainly stay put at the fifth-overall pick and take their best player available. Is Pitts that best player available? There’s certainly an argument for it.

Pitts established himself as one of college football’s premier pass-catchers last season. He has two years of high-quality production, NFL size (6-6, 240) and athleticism, and he won’t turn 21 until this upcoming October. The only reservation used against him is the position he’s labeled with, but he’s clearly not built like most tight ends.

It’s fascinating to imagine the Bengals going with Pitts over both Penei Sewell and Ja’Marr Chase, both of whom are the team’s most likely targets in the first round. It’s even more interesting that Kiper, who has given the Bengals Sewell in every one of his mocks thus far, opted for Pitts this time around.

That said, Pitts could easily end up as the best non-quarterback in this draft class. NFL insider Benjamin Albright has the Eagles taking Pitts over both Chase and Sewell in his recent draft prediction.

The hype and interest surrounding Pitts is very real, regardless of his positional status. Do you want to see Pitts in (new) stripes? Tell us what you think in the comments!