The New England Patriots haven’t gotten much from the two tight ends they selected in the 2020 NFL Draft. Would they take another shot at landing an elite player at the position in 2021?
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Kyle Pitts is the Best Tight End in the 2021 NFL Draft
Tight ends can be game-changers in the right offense. The Patriots know this as well as any franchise in football. They have had great success with players like Ben Coates, Rob Gronkowski, and Aaron Hernandez over the past 25 years. They hoped to find similar success in this year’s rookie crop which included Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene.
It’s still early in the grand scheme of things, but neither man has produced much so far in their rookie seasons. That’s why the team potentially selecting a seemingly can’t-miss-star like Kyle Pitts out of Florida doesn’t feel like an impossible concept.
Pro Football Network’s Ian Cummings wrote this about Pitts after he watched him dominate Georgia early this year.
If a player is a rare enough talent, the players around him respond to his presence in unique ways. Such was the case in Kyle Pitts’ brief yet imposing showing in Week 10 against the Georgia Bulldogs. Pitts gets the most attention for the plays he makes individually, and rightfully so. But early on against Georgia, it was clear that he served a purpose, even when he didn’t see the ball come his way. Pitts’ presence alone dictates a great deal of attention for a defense, and early on in the first half, Pitts helped open up big-play opportunities for both Keon Zipperer and Justin Shorter, the latter of which was a touchdown. Pitts often draws multiple defenders on a given play, but a defense can do that only so often. Pitts inevitably found himself in one-on-one situations as well, and unsurprisingly, he excelled. Pitts is the perfect example of a player using his length correctly. Not all players with length check that box, but Pitts supplements his size with innate body control, ball-tracking ability, high-point timing, and shear strength at the catch point.
He reminds me of a taller Shannon Sharpe, and if you got an opportunity to watch him before he began debating with Skip Bayless on Undisputed, you know how good the Hall-of-Famer was during his days with the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens.
Pitts’ combination of soft hands, size, and overall athleticism is eye-opening. He could be the NFL’s next great pass-catching tight end, and a great weapon for Cam Newton in 2021, should the Patriots elect to bring the former NFL MVP back next season.
Three in Two Years? It Could Work
While all of that sounds great, the fact of the matter is the Patriots already drafted Asasi and Keene in the third round in 2020. It would be peculiar to see a team draft three tight ends–especially within the first three rounds–in a two-year span.
However, if New England was willing and able to draft Pitts, the Patriots could get away with max protection looks far more often than most teams. Pitts projects to have the kind of get-off at the line scrimmage that allows him to still be a force in the passing game from tight formations.
Asiasi hasn’t scratched the surface of what he can do as a pass catcher, and if he can deliver at all, the two could form an imposing dual-tight-end look for the Patriots. Keene could take over for Jakob Johnson at fullback with the option of playing more of an H-Back role.
This look could bolster the Patriots’ run game and allow them to call several attacks from a similar personnel grouping.
Consider it a longshot, but it might not be as bad of an idea as some might believe.