Kyle Pitts is an Intriguing, but Unlikely Option for the Vikings
Editor’s Note: This article was originally posted a little while ago. We are re-posting since the draft is fast approaching. Enjoy.
In the lead up to the draft, much of the focus will inevitably be on improving within the trenches. Things went poorly along both the OL and DL this season, so it’s certainly going to be among Minnesota’s priorities. One thing that has been lost in the shuffle is whether the Vikings could actually blindside us by picking neither an o-lineman or a d-lineman. Would the Minnesota Vikings draft tight end Kyle Pitts instead?
The Fit Between the Minnesota Vikings and Kyle Pitts
First, I should begin by giving a nod to Weekly Spiral and Casey Sully. He was recently on TVG’s podcast, and spoke highly of the Florida TE. Were it not for that conversation, I wouldn’t have thought about Minnesota being interested in Pitts. Moreover, the Weekly Spiral’s Matthew Durgin recently wrote a great article on Pitts. Credit where credit is due; Weekly Spiral deserves credit here.
Bringing Pitts into the fold makes some sense. The Vikings, in all likelihood, will be moving on from veteran Kyle Rudolph. Rudolph understands the situation, and his decision is to not adjust his contract. It’s a fairly predictable outcome from this point (Editor’s Note: Rudolph was cut).
Minnesota thus heads into their offseason with two young, promising tight ends: Irv Smith Jr. and Tyler Conklin. It has long been evident that Smith is an absolute stud, and the only real concern is that Minnesota hasn’t integrated him into the offense more. Meanwhile, Conklin showed his ability when he was given the opportunity after the Rudolph injury. He is an excellent TE3 and a solid TE2.
With all that being said, would the Vikings actually use the 14th pick on Pitts?
It’s not completely unrealistic. A large part of Mike Zimmer’s overall goal on offense is to be unpredictable. When he is in 12 personnel – Minnesota’s base offensive formation – Zimmer wants to be able to do anything. Run or pass, short or long, horizontal or vertical. The offense should be able to do anything at any time; this ability makes life pretty difficult for the defense seeing as how they need to consider multiple legitimate options.
Kyle Pitts could factor in by giving the Minnesota Vikings a truly unstoppable offense in 12 personnel. Imagine you’re the defensive coordinator for the opposition: how would you slow down Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, Pitts, Smith, and Dalvin Cook? Personally, I’d ensure I didn’t have any unrepentant sin. I’d then proceed by asking for divine favor.
The Scouting Report
My knowledge (if we can even call it that; I’m using the term “knowledge” very liberally) about Pitts is essentially constrained to the little bit I’ve read about him. As a result, I’ll gladly defer to the Weekly Spiral’s Durgin.
In Durgin’s estimation, one of Pitts’ greatest strengths is his route running: “He’s lethal on slant routes and leaves defenders in the dust. Whether he’s lined up out wide or in a more traditional tight end spot, Pitts finds a way to get open in man or zone coverage.” If you hop over to Weekly Spiral, you’ll see some very helpful video snippets to illustrate the point. The other positives are his hands and size/length. Both are tremendously important for the position.
The negative, as Durgin explains, may rest in his blocking: “if you want him to be a consistent blocker in the NFL, he needs to get bigger and stronger. A 6-6 240 pound tight end just simply won’t be able to block defensive ends who have 20-30 pounds of muscle advantage.” In full fairness, Durgin does say that he doesn’t think Pitts is a bad blocker, merely that he will need to add some strength/size if a team wants him to consistently contribute in this area.
The other criticism, if we can even call it that, is that he is more of a receiver than a traditional tight end. In today’s NFL, I’m not too worried about a player who is a nightmare to cover because of his size/speed combo. Pitts will be just fine.
Rick Spielman still hasn’t called me to get my opinion on draft prospects (I’m patiently waiting by my phone, Rick). While I don’t have input in Minnesota’s decision making, I can see some trends that are true of the team. They want to be unpredictable on offense, and they want to make life easy for Kirk Cousins. They’d also like to have players who help clear running lanes for Cook. Given these very obvious goals, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Minnesota Vikings choose Kyle Pitts if he falls to #14.
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