ob McGinn has polled NFL scouts, general managers, and evaluators heading into the NFL draft about the draft class and top prospects for over 30 years. The list of evaluators ranged from regional scouts all the way to general managers.
McGinn polls the evaluators about who they like the most, who they hate, and generally give lonely scouts an outlet to complain about players or the NFL in general. The evaluations are fun to look at, both before and after the draft, as the accuracy of those rankings don’t always play out. In fact, nearly every single prospect everywhere has been trashed by at least some some unnamed evaluator out there.
However, the evaluations are the most interesting and comprehensive look into what some of these evaluators think about specific players, positions, and the NFL.
McGinn polled evaluators on this year’s class of tight ends. Unsurprisingly, one of the potential prospects for the Falcons is at the top of everyone’s list. The dynamic Kyle Pitts has been one of the favorites at four for months. Pitts has been considered by some to be a generational talent, a complete package of elite pass catching, blocking, and effort, and potentially the best player available in the entire draft.
Again, unsurprisingly, Pitts collected every first-place vote in the poll of evaluators.
“I don’t need to see the workout — this is the best player in the draft,” said one 20-year scouting veteran. “He’s the most gifted tight end I’ve scouted. (Travis) Kelce and others have developed into really good players, but just as far as coming out, you have to back to Vernon Davis (in 2006). He was more of a big, fast, straight-line guy. Stiff. Or Kellen Winslow II. This guy is much more talented than those guys.
That effusive evaluation of Pitts is not a stretch. Where he is right now is so much different than other players. You may think on some players Pitts was Florida’s WR1. As noted by scouts, Pitts significantly improved his run blocking in 2020 as well. He appears to be a complete package that may quickly become one of the top in the league.
The only negative is one scout believing Pitts’ athletic ability has been seen in prior players like Greg Olsen, Jimmy Graham, Jordan Cameron, and generally the top tight ends currently in the league. While true, there have been a lot of athletic tight ends with the capability to become an elite tight end, few have managed to do so. The proof is the scout reaches back to Cameron and Julius Thomas. If tight ends were so easy to develop, we would see a number of similar players in recent years.
You may even point at the difficulty to develop some of these players to Hayden Hurst. He has tons of athleticism. He makes a lot of impressive plays. Yet, he is far and away from being called a blocker. He has not been consistent enough to warrant double coverage. Despite three years in the NFL, and his above-average age, the former first-round pick still hasn’t turned into the presence many had hoped for.
Pitts is a great wildcard in the draft that should be under consideration as the “best player available” at the fourth spot. If Pitts is the pick, the Falcons may truly be trying to win now with whatever window is left between Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. If they pass, Fontenot is looking towards the future.