Florida Gators tight end Kyle Pitts goes No. 4 in NFL Draft. What will he bring to the Atlanta Falcons?

Zach Abolverdi
The Gainesville Sun
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After rewriting the school and SEC record books in his final collegiate season, Mackey Award winner Kyle Pitts made history on the opening night of the 2021 NFL draft. 

With the Atlanta Falcons selecting him No. 4 overall Thursday, Pitts became the highest tight end taken in the common draft era and the first Gators TE to be a first-round pick. 

Jordan Reed, who retired in April, was the last UF player drafted at the position (2013) and Ben Troupe had been Florida’s highest draftee (second round, No. 40) prior to Pitts. He and Riley Odoms (1972) are the only tight ends to go in the top five of the NFL’s common draft era (since 1967).

Draft updates:The latest on Gators going to the NFL

What led us here:Pro Day workout helped propel Florida's Kyle Pitts into top five of NFL draft

College's best:Pitts wins Mackey Award as nation’s top tight end

Here’s what Pitts will bring to Atlanta, where he played his last college game and broke the UF record for career receiving yards by a tight end — 1,492 yards on 100 catches (second all-time). 

Kyle Pitts Positives 

His athleticism, elite ball skills and rare combination of size and speed are why coaches and scouts describe the 6-foot-6, 245-pound Pitts as a “unicorn.” He tested off the charts at Florida’s Pro Day, running the 40-yard dash in 4.44 seconds and posting the longest wingspan (83 3/8") for an NFL receiver or tight end in the last 20 years. He also had a 33.5 vertical and did 22 reps on bench press, showing the strength that helped him handle more run blocking as a junior. Pitts is willing and able to put his hand in the dirt and release into routes, but does most of his damage when flexed out wide and in the slot. He’s too athletic and fast for most linebackers and too big and physical for most cornerbacks, making him a match-up nightmare. 

Kyle Pitts Concerns

It’s hard to poke holes in his game when ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has Pitts as the highest-graded tight end ever and NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah ranks him No. 2 on his draft board. But no prospect is perfect, and the biggest knock on Pitts is blocking ability. He made improvements in that area last season and showed more physicality under position coach Tim Brewster. Effort isn’t the issue for Pitts, who’s credited by NFL Media's Lance Zierlein for trying to stay connected to the block. Zierlein notes that Pitts struggles at the point of attack, lacking the mass and core strength needed to be a true in-line tight end. At 20 years old, Pitts still has room — and the frame — to grow and develop as a blocker. His concussion from 2020 that sidelined him for two games will also require examination.

Final thoughts on Kyle Pitts

There was a time when Pitts was considered a wide receiver playing tight end and didn’t qualify for the Mackey Award in 2019. He dispelled that misconception last year with his breakout season and willingness to play at the line of scrimmage. He’ll need to do more of the latter at the next level, but his receiving skills and freakish athleticism should allow him to make an immediate impact as a rookie. Tight end has become a premium position in the NFL with players such as Rob Gronkowski, George Kittle and Travis Kelce, and that trend will continue with Pitts.

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