Florida tight end Kyle Pitts will be a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Pitts, who caught 43 passes for 770 yards and 12 TDs for the Gators as a junior in 2020, evokes comparisons to Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver Calvin Johnson because of his measurements.
Pitts is 6-5, 245 pounds with an 83-inch wingspan. He runs a 4.44 in the 40-yard dash. He has a 33.5-inch vertical and hit 22 reps on 225 pounds. He would have been one of the main attractions of the NFL Scouting Combine with those numbers.
Johnson was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, but he was a receiver. Pitts is a tight end, and that makes him a more intriguing prospect in some ways because of the history at the position.
MORE NFL DRAFT: Complete 7-round mock | Top 100 big board
How many tight ends have been first-round picks?
A total of 56 tight ends have been selected in the first round since the first common draft in 1967. Penn State tight end Ted Kwalick was selected with the No. 7 pick by Penn State in 1969.
Of those 56 tight ends, a total of 28 made at least one Pro Bowl appearance.
Highest-drafted tight ends in NFL history
A total of 14 tight ends have been selected with top-10 picks since 1967.
Denver took Riley Odoms with the No. 5 overall pick in the 1972 NFL Draft – the highest selection ever for a tight end.
|2006||Vernon Davis||6||San Francisco||Maryland|
|2004||Kellen Winlsow II||6||Cleveland||Miami, Fla.|
|1969||Ted Kwalick||7||San Francisco||Penn State|
|1974||J.V. Cain||7||St. Louis||Colorado|
|1978||Ken MacAfee||7||San Francisco||Notre Dame|
|1996||Rickey Dudley||9||Oakland||Ohio State|
|1995||Kyle Brady||9||N.Y. Jets||Penn State|
|2014||Eric Ebron||10||Detroit||North Carolina|
Out of those tight ends, Vernon Davis had the best career. He finished with 583 receptions for 7,562 yards and 63 TDs. Davis enjoyed a 14-year career that was productive, and he might be the better comparison to Pitts. Davis was 6-3, 248 pounds and ran a 4.39 at the NFL Combine.
How risky is drafting a tight end in Round 1?
There is a bust factor at work. A total of 20 of those 56 tight ends – or 35.7 percent – finished with less than 2,000 receiving yards for their career. A total of 16 — or 28.5 percent — finished with more than 5,000 receiving yards for their career. Here is a look at the most-productive first-round tight ends in NFL history:
|2004||Kellen Winslow II||6||469||5,236||25|
Gonzalez, Newsome and Winslow are members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and Clark is a candidate to join them in Canton. That 5,000-yard threshold would be the minimum expectation should a team draft Pitts with a first-round pick.
First-round TE draft picks since 2010
Here is a look at tight ends drafted in the first round since 2010 and their production in the NFL to this point:
Hockenson and Fant have enjoyed success in their first two seasons. Ebron has the most production, but several of these tight ends have battled injuries and inconsistency throughout their careers.
Kyle Pitts draft projections
Atlanta Falcons (No. 4)
The Falcons would be the first team not to take a quarterback, and Pitts would fit in an offense that already features Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. Atlanta does have Hayden Hurst, however, so Ja’Marr Chase is a candidate to be taken in this spot.
Cincinnati Bengals (No. 5)
The Bengals are a better bet to take Oregon tackle Penei Sewell, but there are value picks at offensive line in the second and third rounds, respectively. Pitts could open the middle of the field and be a dominant red-zone target for Joe Burrow. Cincinnati, however, already tried this with Jermaine Gresham (2013) and Tyler Eifert (2013).
Miami Dolphins (No. 6)
Miami has shuffled around the draft board through trades, and this would be a question of who quarterback Tua Tagovailoa wants. Would Alabama receivers DeVonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle be better fits here knowing the Dolphins already have Mike Gesicki at tight end?
Carolina Panthers (No. 8)
The Panthers traded for Sam Darnold, so it’s unlikely (but still possible) they take a quarterback here. The Panthers had a pair of 1,000-yard receivers in D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson last season, and Pitts would be the perfect target to add to that.
Dallas Cowboys (No. 10)
The Cowboys have a loaded offense, and Dak Prescott is on the recovery trail. Add Pitts to the mix, and it becomes one of the best offenses in the NFL around Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and a solid offensive line. Jerry Jones could make that splash here, and it’s a good fit.
Phiadelphia Eagles (No. 12)
We don’t see Pitts falling any further than this, and if he does reach No. 10 then a team might trade up to get the star tight end. Zach Ertz has been a trade candidate through the offseason, and drafting Pitts would make that move easier.