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Mel Kiper mock draft 1.0: Kyle Pitts to the Giants

Could Pitts become the weapon the Giants have lacked in recent years?

NCAA Football: Florida at Mississippi Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

As the 2021 NFL calendar rolls on, we are inching closer to the 2021 NFL Draft. A mel Kiper mock draft is another step in the process.

Tuesday morning Kiper released his first mock draft of 2021, and he gave the Giants the receiving weapon they’ve lacked.

11. New York Giants
Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

Quarterback Daniel Jones cut down on his turnovers and showed some improvement in Year 2, but he still averaged only 6.6 yards per attempt. Even when he gets time to throw in the pocket, he doesn’t have a consistent downfield threat (though Darius Slayton was a nice fifth-round find in 2019). At 6-foot-6, Pitts has the size/speed traits to line up out wide, in the slot or next to an offensive tackle. And he showed off his ability after the catch by averaging 17.9 yards per reception with 12 touchdowns. Pitts is not a traditional tight end, but he’s a skilled offensive threat. And with Evan Engram on the roster, too, the Giants would have two of the most athletic — and versatile — tight ends in football.

Raptor’s Thoughts: I’ve been on record as saying that Kyle Pitts is my primarily (realistic) target for the Giants. The Giants need a true “X” receiver who can play on the line of scrimmage every down, command attention, and be the passing game threat the Giants have lacked in recent years. He already has enough experience as a receiver to make the transition full time, and the ability to run routes that is rare for even bigger receivers, let alone tight ends.

But I say that with the provision that Pitts should be evaluated and graded as a receiver, not a tight end. I don’t say that because I don’t think he could play the tight end, but rather that he is such a problem as a receiver that if he is in-line blocking it’s a waste because he isn’t being used as a receiving threat. Pitts can be a nuisance as a blocking tight end (and a good blocker for a receiver on screens), but that he can be a receiver on the order of Plaxico Burress or Mike Evans.

The question of whether or not the Giants could, would, or should take Pitts at the top of the draft or if they would opt for Alabama receiver Jaylen Waddle. In fact, Nick Falato brought it up most recently on our podcast discussion of the receiver position. My answer is that if I am making the choice and designing the offense, I take Pitts without a second thought. HOWEVER, I have to question whether the Giants have the vision to build an offense around what Pitts can do and maximize his potential. The Giants are habitually traditional and conservative in their views on football, and in that case I would go for Waddle as he is a more natural fit for their football philosophies.

But back to Pitts, he has the potential to be the kind of offensive player for whom offenses just don’t have an answer. Pitts has the traits to be a player who defenses need to double team, as he is way too big and too athletic for any one defender to cover.