Kyle Pitts to the Arizona Cardinals After Trade, Says Peter Schrager

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NFL Network’s Peter Schrager called the Arizona Cardinals ‘the most aggressive team in the offseason’ this year. Yet it was still one of the biggest shocks in Schrager’s first mock draft when he suggested the Cardinals could move up to the seventh overall pick and take one of the draft’s best talents in Kyle Pitts. An already bolstered unit, Kyler Murray‘s offense could gain yet another game changing weapon.

Peter Schrager Mocks Kyle Pitts to the Arizona Cardinals

Tomorrow’s Tight End

Kyle Pitts is a tight end. However, this tag doesn’t do his skill set justice. If he were classed a receiver, he would still be one of the top prospects coming out of college football. Standing at 6’5″ and weighing in 235lb, Pitts has a refinement and finesse that bemoans his size. Despite an underwhelming start with the Gators, Pitts’ sophomore campaign garnered national attention. He starred for Florida, catching five touchdowns on 54 receptions.

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The tight end has proved a matchup nightmare in recent seasons. Players like Travis Kelce and George Kittle have become some of the NFL’s most productive players. As a receiving option, Kyle Pitts may have the talent to eclipse all of the competition that the NFL’s tight ends have to offer. His long frame allows for a stunning catch radius. His open field movement is smooth and his routes crisp. With hands that didn’t concede a single drop in 2020, Kyle Pitts is next up in terms of revolutionising the tight end position.

Tight End Trouble in Arizona

Arizona’s tight end situation has become somewhat of an unexpected problem. The position was not projected to be a focus in 2021, with glaring needs elsewhere on the roster. However, with Dan Arnold‘s departure to the Carolina Panthers in free agency, the group suddenly found itself with a conundrum. In losing Arnold, the team lost what was their best receiving option at tight end.

Arizona currently has two tight ends on the roster: Maxx Williams and Darrell Daniels. Williams has been a fixture in the Cardinals starting line up when healthy. Largely utilised for his blocking ability, he has shown some ability as a receiving option. Daniels has a similar skillset and has been used a depth option for much of his time in Arizona, although seeing some game time.

What Williams and Daniels offer the Arizona Cardinals is a more traditional approach to the tight end position. Proficient in blocking down on the line of scrimmage, their role is geared towards augmenting the Cardinal’s developing run game. Unfortunately, as receiving targets, they are underwhelming. Yes, they’re professional NFL players, which means they can run routes and catch footballs. The issue is that, in the NFC West, they’re matched up with some of the NFL’s very best middle linebackers, such the San Francisco 49ers’ Fred Warner or the Seattle Seahawks’ Bobby Wagner.

Williams and Daniels will be integral in the Cardinals’ offense in 2021, but currently the room is too one-dimensional; the team must add a receiving threat at tight end. General manager Steve Keim has addressed the issue in front of the media, suggesting that ‘there may be an opportunity for a tight end in the coming weeks’. As of yet, nothing has materialised.

Moving Up for Kyle Pitts

Peter Schrager’s mock draft saw the Cardinals move up for sixteenth overall to the seventh overall pick by way of trade with the Detroit Lions. Schrager’s hypothetical trade saw the Cardinals go the way of their NFC West counterparts by parting with their 2022 first round pick, along with a 2022 third round pick, in exchange for the seventh pick in this year’s draft. It is worth noting that Schrager’s mock, a complete first-round projection, saw the Lions able to take DeVonta Smith at sixteen, a player who they had been linked with at seven overall. Therefore, from Detroit’s perspective, they would have to be confident that Smith would fall before agreeing to the trade, as well as preferring Smith to Pitts.

The moves made around the NFC West over the last two years have given the Cardinals some flexibility in terms of draft capital, although on the surface they don’t seem to have much. None of the other NFC West teams currently have a first round selection in 2022. The Seahawks’ traded their 2022 first rounder in the deal for Jamal Adams in 2020. The Los Angeles Rams saw theirs go to Detroit in exchange for Matthew Stafford and the 49ers’ pick allowed their blockbuster trade up to third overall this year.

The Cardinals’ draft capital in 2021 is sparing. The acquisitions of DeAndre Hopkins and Rodney Hudson cost their third and fourth round picks this year. With only two picks in the first four rounds, the team has little to give up. However, LA and San Francisco’s trades mean that the Cardinals can bargain with their future picks because it essentially causes no competitive disadvantage in 2022.

A Good Move for Arizona?

The Cardinals are in win-now mode. Acquiring aging players like J.J. Watt and Rodney Hudson, signing A.J. Green to a one-year deal, tells us that much. Therefore the Cardinals seem willing to somewhat compromise their future. Moving up to take Kyle Pitts is a frightening prospect in Kliff Kingsbury‘s offense. Pitts’ abilities will be properly utilised in an innovative system like the ‘Air Raid’; a more traditional coach might stifle his potential, but Kingsbury and Kyler Murray can help him thrive.

There has been some discussion that Kyle Pitts could be selected as high as fourth overall by Atlanta Falcons. Schrager’s mock did see the Falcons move out of this spot, where the New England Patriots then took a quarterback. Yet even if Atlanta hold firm at four, the Cardinals should still be aggressive. If Atlanta do indeed select Pitts, then the Cardinals would be in prime position to select Patrick Surtain II, ahead of the Denver Broncos and Dallas Cowboys. Moving up, the Cardinals can gamble away their future in exchange for the chance to draft a generational talent. If that’s Kyle Pitts, or another top prospect, we’ll find out April 29th.