2019 was not just a big step for junior tight end Kyle Pitts, rather it was a giant leap to elite status in college football.
In the last few years, the Florida Gators have been masterful at producing refined, NFL-ready talent on both offense and defense. In this year's NFL Draft, Florida saw seven of their players taken in various rounds. Pitts' name is often in the conversation among the top tight ends in the nation, such as Pat Freiermuth out of Penn State or Charlie Kolar out of Iowa State.
Last season, Pitts emerged as one of the most efficient offensive players in the nation. His 54 receptions not only placed him third nationally among tight ends, he tied former receiver Antonio Callaway for the fourth-most receptions in a season by a Gator since 2007. In addition, his 649 receiving yards placed him seventh in the nation in this category. Early last month, Pro Football Focus released their 2021 NFL Draft position rankings, listing Pitts as their number one tight end. Considering he just 20 years of age, is an indication of how gifted he is as an overall player.
Part of what defines Pitts as a player has been his route running abilities. At 6'6, 240 lbs, few would expect tight to run various routes from different spots on the field. Pitts last season, displayed the diversity in his route tree, and his ability to incorporate his speed and athleticism, making him a mismatch for nickel defenders trying to cover him.
The criticism regarding his size in relation to the position, can be countered by the fact that NFL systems are now more offensive-oriented for tight ends, than it ever has been. As there was once a time that they had to fit a certain mold sizewise, the need for a big, blocking tight ends has decreased the last few years.
Regardless of his size, Pitts has proven in a short period of time, that he can produce offensively in numerous ways. With the Gators offense led this upcoming season by quarterback Kyle Trask, Pitts is in the right position to potentially break program records, and solidify himself as a first-round worthy player.