The tight end position is a major area of need for the New England Patriots. The team tried to address it in the 2020 NFL Draft, but they got little-to-no production out of their two third-round picks, Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene.
While the book on the two young men isn’t closed, the lack of production has to be enough for the Patriots to still consider the position an area with room for improvement. As it turns out, the 2021 NFL Draft looks set to have one of the best tight end prospects since Vernon Davis came out of Maryland and was taken No. 6 overall by the San Francisco 49ers in 2006.
Florida’s Kyle Pitts is No. 1 at his position and second place isn’t really close. Several draft prognosticators are advising the Patriots to pursue him.
Davis’ 4.38 speed and size made him a tough cover. Pitts has outstanding athleticism like Davis, but with better ball and route-running skills.
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Patriots Projected to Draft Pitts
Depending on the mock drafts you see, Pitts is projected to go off the board as high as the 11th pick, which would put him in the same range as Davis went in 2006.
However, some don’t see Pitts going that high. One, in particular, has linked him to the Patriots. Pats Pulpits’ Brian M. Hines predicts Pitts will be the first player the Patriots select in a draft that should go a long way toward adding some weapons to New England’s offense.
After breaking down the Patriots needs this offseason, let’s play the projection game. My ideal offseason would start with selecting BYU quarterback Zach Wilson come April, but I don’t see the Patriots going quarterback right now that early. As for some realistic projections, here are a few:
Patriots resign QB Cam Newton to a one-year deal, draft Wake Forest QB Jamie Newman
Patriots sign WR Corey Davis to a four-year, $50 million contract
Patriots select Florida TE Kyle Pitts in the first round
Pitts has also drawn some comparisons to the Las Vegas Raiders’ Darren Waller. NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah wrote:
Pitts is tall, long and ultra athletic. His versatility allows the Gators to use him in a variety of alignments. He gets a lot of reps as an inline tight end, but he will also play on the wing, flex out in the slot or split all the way out to the perimeter of the formation. He uses an arch release to free himself from the line of scrimmage and he gains ground quickly with his long, smooth stride. He’s outstanding stretching the seam and isn’t afraid to extend for the ball in traffic. I was impressed with Pitts’ nuance at the top of his route. He doesn’t just take grass. He understands how to stem up defenders and create separation. He doesn’t display any hip or ankle stiffness, and his catch radius is outstanding. He is a weapon in the red zone.
This Concept Would Put the Patriots’ Offense in a Much Better Position
Even if the Patriots stay with Newton, which could be seen as an unpopular decision, things could still be looking up for New England.
If Newton returns, he will almost certainly have a better handle of the offense in his second year. If he is surrounded by talents like Davis, Pitts, Jakobi Meyers, and perhaps a returning Damiere Byrd, the offense begins to look a bit more formidable than it did in 2020.
Pitts is the kind of talent who could help to completely re-define and transform an offense. Even if the Patriots have to trade up to take Pitts, it might be a gamble worth taking because of the threat he could become.
Imagine him, Newton, and the Patriots’ running game as weapons in the red zone. It would be tough for a team to handle all of New England’s options.
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