By: Cole VanBockern (@ColeVanBockern)
Much of the attention and speculation for the Miami Dolphins’ top pick has focused on three players: Ja’Marr Chase, Devonta Smith, and Jaylen Waddle. Adding any of these three playmakers would be a substantial upgrade to a Dolphins receiving corps that desperately needs it. However, one could make a very good (if not better) case for selecting Kyle Pitts with a high pick in this draft. If you come away from this article still wanting one of the top 3 receivers, I certainly won’t blame you. But let’s entertain this scenario for a moment…
First things first, the Dolphins should absolutely not select at 3 (unless they want to go the Sewell route). Instead, they should trade back with a quarterback-starved team (preferably in the top 10) because there isn’t a generational talent at WR in this draft. That isn’t to say Chase, Smith, and/or Waddle won’t become high-level players, just that the NFL really values quarterbacks. To get the absolute most out of your draft capital, you need to capitalize on the value placed on your pick by QB-hungry teams. There should be no shortage of potential suitors for the #3 overall pick, as the Eagles, Lions, and Panthers should all be very interested. A modest trade from 3 back to 6 (Eagles), 7 (Lions), or 8 (Panthers) would net at least a high 2nd and 3rd rounder. Now that we’ve acquired more high-end picks let’s look at what the Dolphins could do with a Kyle Pitts scenario and why it makes sense.
Kyle Pitts is a generational tight end prospect. He comes into the league with an absurdly high floor, similar to what Darren Waller is right now. He is 6’6, 240 and runs like a gazelle. That isn’t the best part though: Kyle Pitts can straight upbeat good corners with his route running alone. Not slow linebackers, CORNERS. He’s beaten high-end SEC defensive backs including (but certainly not limited to) Kentucky’s Kelvin Joseph (No. 25 on Mel Kiper’s Big Board) and LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr. and Grant Delpit. The number of tight ends in the league who can beat corners and actually gain separation on routes rather than simply outmuscling or outjumping them is 3 – Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Darren Waller. Adding Pitts to this Dolphins offense would unlock a dimension that is incredibly rare in the NFL. I dare you to go watch some Pitts tape and tell me you aren’t salivating at the sight of him shattering a corner’s ankles on a whip route. He does plenty of mossing on 50/50 balls as well, but it’s the rare ability to get separation on a corner that makes him truly special.
VALUE AND DEPTH AT WR
While Pitts is truly a unicorn at a tight end, this year’s draft is one of the deepest we’ve seen at the WR position. The top end is solid, but there really isn’t a massive drop-off in talent in maybe the top 8-10 prospects. Wide Receivers also typically fall farther than fans, and draft pundits typically think (Look at Jeudy, Lamb, and Jefferson last year). It certainly wouldn’t be unheard of to see one of the big 3 receivers fall to 18. Let’s say the Dolphins aren’t so lucky, and Chase, Smith, and Waddle are all gone at 18. Rashod Bateman would be an amazing fit for this Dolphins Offense and, quite honestly, deserves more hype than he has been getting. He has prototypical size, reliable hands, and runs the cleanest routes of anyone not named Devonta Smith. He can play inside or outside, and he is always open, which is something Miami’s offense desperately needs. Many will be clamoring for an RB here, but it is simply too early for that. Smart teams get value at running back, and pick 18 is not value for this draft’s prospects. Take Bateman (or another WR you like) or take the value of someone falling into your lap that you did not expect to be available and then grab the best available receiver at the top of the second.
TEAM FIT AND WHAT ABOUT GESICKI?
Plenty of people will hate the thought of drafting Kyle Pitts because the Dolphins already have Mike Gesicki. That’s understandable. But the whole point of Kyle Pitts isn’t that he is a tight end. It’s that he is a WEAPON and should be treated as such. Put both Gesicki and Pitts on the field simultaneously and watch the defense go mad trying to figure out how to stop them both. The Dolphins ran 12 personnel – two tight ends and two receivers – at the second-highest rate in the league in weeks 8-17 (Tua’s starts). The passing numbers with two tight ends on the field? 65/97, 7.1 yards per attempt (including incompletions) 4 TD, 0 INT, 101.4 passer rating. (Courtesy of sharpfootballstats.com) So there is already a spot for Pitts to make an impact without changing your offense to utilize him (which you absolutely should). Drafting Kyle Pitts also makes Mike Gesicki expendable. I like Mike Gesicki as much as the rest of the fan base, but he is an impending free agent, and drafting Pitts allows Miami to use that money elsewhere if they so choose.
HOW THIS FITS FOR TUA
Bateman and Kyle Pitts give Tua exactly what he needs, targets that are always open. The Dolphins’ receivers notably struggled to gain separation, and Tua struggled to really trust his receivers in 50/50 situations (which resulted in far too many sacks). While I expect Tua to grow and start to trust tighter windows next season, it would be nice if his playmakers could make things a bit easier on him. Getting Pitts, a tight end who gains separation unlike almost any other tight end (Gesicki was awful in this regard, by the way), to go with Rashod Bateman, who might be the second coming of Keenan Allen with crisp, consistent route running, is exactly what Tua needs. Add in whatever free agent Miami chooses to sign a receiver, a running back in round 2-3, and whatever value they find on the offensive line in the draft. This offense could go from stagnant to lethal in a heartbeat.
Kyle Pitts would step in and be TE1 on day one. He would unlock a dimension to the offense that only three teams in the league have and would allow the Dolphins to take advantage of the deep 2021 receiver class. Drafting a top-3 receiver would be smart, but drafting a unicorn-like Pitts would be galaxy brain type stuff if they utilize him correctly.
Get Tua some MF’n weapons! Get Tua, Kyle Pitts!