The Atlanta Falcons have the No. 4 pick in this month’s NFL Draft, and tight end Kyle Pitts out of Florida is solidifying himself as a serious candidate for the pick.
New general manager Terry Fontenot has repeatedly said taking a best player available strategy to the NFL Draft. With the Falcons picking at No. 4, there are several candidates that could fit that bill, and other than a possible quarterback, none particularly fit a need.
Maybe the least of which is hybrid tight end Kyle Pitts out of Florida. Receiver and linebacker are the two places that Atlanta seems fairly well set for the 2021 season, so taking receiver, in this case a pass catching tight end, makes little sense from a need point of view.
But if it’s best player available, Kyle Pitts ticks a lot of the boxes.
In eight games for Florida, Pitts had 43 catches, 770 yards and a whopping 12 touchdowns. Those numbers speak to Pitts’ production, but his pro day yesterday highlighted his athleticism.
I’ve compared Pitts to slightly bigger versions of Julio Jones or Calvin Johnson rather than another tight end, and he matches up favorably with Mike Evans (6’5/231) who was taken with the seventh overall pick by Tampa Bay in 2014. I see a lot of Plaxico Burress in him when he’s on the field. Burress was 6’5.5 / 231 coming out of Michigan State.
At Florida’s pro day, the numbers on Pitts were as follows.
Height – 6’5 5/8”
Weight – 245
Hand – 10 5/8”
Wingspan – 6’11 3/3” (83 3/8”)
40 – 4.44
Shuttle – 4.30
L-Cone – 7.12
Vert – 33.5”
Broad Jump – 10’9”
Bench – 22 Reps (225)
He’s nearly 6’6, running 4.4s, with a seven foot wing span and 11 inch hands? That’s like taking a running back and giving him a lacrosse stick to catch the ball. Talk about catch radius.
The Falcons were in attendance at Pitts’ pro day, and he admitted that the Atlanta brass has been in touch on multiple occasions.
For much of this draft we’ve been focusing on a long term successor to Matt Ryan, who turns 36 this offseason, but a long term successor to Julio Jones may be what we get if the Falcons don’t take a quarterback.
What’s interesting is that despite the lack of need for another pass catcher, Atlanta Falcons fans seem to be warming to the idea of taking Pitts.
Even with Justin Fields available, Pitts was the pick in a Twitter poll that received nearly 1,000 votes from (mostly) Falcons fans.
If the Falcons don’t take a quarterback at No. 4, the best player available is debatable. We’ve advocated for Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell who is a pro bowler in the making at a premium position, left tackle.
Penn State Linebacker Micah Parsons fits the bill as a Top 5 pick as well after his showing at pro day.
We’re going to hear the name Ja’marr Chase of LSU as well. The receiver was thought to be picked as high as No. 3 to the Dolphins. As we’ve mentioned, receiver is the position that the Falcons least need to fortify.
But one would be hard pressed to argue that Kyle Pitts ISN’T the best player available at any spot in this draft.