If you google the definition of the word “unicorn” you’ll find the second definition of the noun on Merriam-Webster to say “something unusual, rare, or unique.” If you scroll down a little bit more, you’ll see examples of the word unicorn in a sentence. Though you may not see it there today, in the future you may see, in that category, Florida Gators head coach Dan Mullen’s explanation of his tight end Kyle Pitts when he said:
“I think his ability to create matchup problems [is what makes him unique]. I think he’s an elite wide receiver, and an elite tight end… He’s a unicorn.”
Pitts measured in at Florida’s pro day at just under 6-foot-6 and 245 pounds, both numbers in the top percentiles for tight ends of Pitts’ use (mainly as a receiver). He then proceeded to run a 4.44 40-yard dash, a number only two tight ends have bested at the NFL Scouting Combine over the past 20 years. He also measured in with an 83-inch wingspan, which was the third-best ever for any skill position player at the Combine in the last 20 years.
Pitts’ unique workout scores are not a surprise. Anyone who has watched Pitts at Florida, whether that be as a fan watching casually or as a scout watching intently, has likely come away thinking this guy could be the best thing since sliced bread. We’ve seen names like Jimmy Graham and George Kittle being thrown around to reference how good Pitts can be in the passing game; his pro day gave us no reason to think anything to the contrary.
The questions around whether or not Pitts was good were put to bed long ago. The better questions surrounding the 2021 draft class’s most unique player is: where do you draft him? Back in 2017, we were told we had one of the best tight end classes of all time on our hands at the top with O.J. Howard, Evan Engram, and David Njoku. Yet, the first one didn’t come off the board until No. 19 (Howard). Recently, T.J. Hockenson made the top 10 when he was selected by the Detroit Lions at No. 8 in 2019. Eric Ebron was also selected at No. 10 in 2014. So a tight end going inside the top 10 is definitely possible.
But what about in the top five?
Kellen Winslow Jr. and Vernon Davis were both selected No. 6 overall, the highest spots ever for players of the tight end label, but there is a chance for Pitts to be selected even higher. At his pro-day presser, Pitts said this when asked about his talks with the Atlanta Falcons, the team picking No. 4 overall in this year’s draft:
“I did talk to them on Zoom a couple times,” Pitts said. “I talked to them again [at pro day]. They said they have interest in me. After today we’ll get together on another Zoom and they’ll try to learn more about me. I feel like they’re pretty interested.”
There is also a chance the Falcons could trade down from No. 4 in an attempt to get more draft capital yet still target Pitts. However, they can’t go too far, as a team like the Miami Dolphins at No. 6 likely has Pitts high on their radar as well.
Ultimately—and especially after Pitts’ pro day—it’s no longer about whether or not Pitts will go top 10, because now it seems like pick No. 10 is the floor. It’s now a matter of just how high he can go. The teams that want him will believe in Mullen’s quote about Pitts being a unicorn. And the final part of that quote from Mullen: “The only way you can defend a unicorn is with another unicorn.”