As the 2021 NFL Draft quickly approaches, more and more analysts have Florida Gators tight end Kyle Pitts shooting up their draft boards. With the dominant college football season Pitts put on in 2020, the highly-touted prospect has earned top-10 pick distinction in nearly every available mock draft.
ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay took the hype a step further. In ESPN’s Mock Draft 3.0, McShay has Pitts going No. 6 overall to the Philadelphia Eagles.
That prediction in itself shouldn’t be too controversial. But in the context of the rest of his board, it certainly raised some eyebrows. McShay’s placement of Pitts sees the TE drafted first among all available receivers — including LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase and Alabama’s DeVonta Smith.
Former NFL center and current ESPN analyst Jeff Saturday was appalled by the prediction.
“They lost their mind,” Saturday said on NFL Live. “I’m not taking away from his talent. What I am taking away from is how NFL defenses play tight ends. And I know this much, I played 14 years in the league. I’ve been covering it eight, or however many I’ve been retired, I can count on one hand how many tight ends I would say dominate the game week in and week out. What I do know is with those tight ends, most of them are coupled with some fantastic outside receivers. So if I’m picking six or higher, or whatever, and I pick a tight end I would say position specific would tell you to go Ja’Marr Chase. Go [DeVonta Smith]. Go one of those guys who can do more to open up your offense than what you’re putting, and I understand we move tight ends all over. We do all these kinds of things, but at the end of the day can he consistently go beat those guys?
“And we have seen, the league has shown you, you can get them in the third round, the second round, the sixth round. Keep naming them, and you can still get those guys. To go spin Pitts that high to me, I think you’re putting the position ahead of, even as good as he is, of where a guy should be slotted in that draft.”
Saturday’s qualm with the placement seems to be about position more than anything. He doesn’t think any tight end should be taken that high.
Pitts isn’t your average TE though.
Standing 6-foot-6, 246 lbs with some elite athleticism, the versatile weapon can be utilized on every level of the field as a combo TE/WR. During his final season in Gainesville, Pitts logged 770 yards and 12 touchdowns through just eight games with the Gators.
Where would you like to see Pitts land in 2021?