Kyle Pitts is a matchup problem. Steve Devlin said this over the phone not once but numerous times, and who could fault him for repeating himself? Devlin coached Pitts in high school, when the athlete who's vowed to become football's best tight end habitually destroyed opposing schemes and dreams all over the field.
That included on defense. Back at Archbishop Wood High School near Philadelphia, Pitts did double duty as a nimble defensive end capable of darting around the edge, blowing up the run game, or backpedaling into coverage as his unit required. Devlin loved the results. There was the 2016 city playoff game that Pitts broke open by forcing a fumble and tipping an interception, both of which were returned for scores. In his senior finale in 2017, Pitts snared two picks and a receiving touchdown as Wood romped to a 5A state championship.
To dismiss Pitts' defensive achievements as he gets set to enter the NFL - it's not like he'll line up at DE on Sundays - risks missing the point. At 6-foot-6 and 245 pounds, his unicorn blend of speed, smarts, dependable hands, and quicksilver elusiveness helped him torment SEC foes at Florida. Even among pros, he projects as special, a force to fear, and a dilemma to solve on any snap that involves him.
"Sure, the NFL's the best of the best. You've got guys who can run and cover," Devlin said. "But Kyle brings a different dimension to the game."
When the NFL draft starts April 29, it's possible that a handful of quarterbacks are the only guys selected before Pitts, one of the top pass-catchers in the class and its most dynamic prospect, full stop. Linebackers can't keep pace with a player who runs the 40 in 4.44 seconds. Defensive backs with equivalent wheels get outjumped or outmuscled downfield.
Pitts cracked the top 10 of Heisman Trophy voting in 2020, a first for his position in 43 years. His timing was impeccable. By turning pro at 20, he'll have plenty of runway to try to redefine what it means to play tight end, joining Darren Waller and few others as featured threats of towering size whose fleetness of foot has no NFL precedent.