Bengals drafting Florida TE Kyle Pitts could bring most value
Florida tight end Kyle Pitts, LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase and Oregon offensive tackle Kyle Pitts are the most debated players for the Bengals selecting with the fifth pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Finding a great TE is far more difficult than finding a great OT or WR. Pitts could offer the Bengals the best value with the fifth pick.
Las Vegas Raiders TE Darren Waller was fourth in the NFL in 2020 with 107 receptions and Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce finished fifth with 105 receptions. Logan Thomas of the Washington Football Team was third among TEs and 31st in the NFL with 72 receptions.
Kelce was second in the NFL with 1,416 yards and led all TEs. Waller finished 10th in the NFL in 2020 with 1,196 yards. You have to go all the way down to 51st overall in receiving yards to T.J. Hockenson of Detroit who was third among TEs behind Kelce and Waller with 726 yards. Drafting Pitts could solve two Bengals problems.
The Bengals need to improve at TE and add another threat in the passing game for quarterback Joe Burrow. Selecting a TE early in the NFL Draft is risky. A TE has not been drafted as high as a fifth since the Denver Broncos selected Riley Odoms out of Houston fifth in the 1972 NFL Draft.
Odoms finished his NFL career with 396 receptions for 5,755 yards and 41 touchdowns. That was a different era. Teams predominantly ran the football and TEs were used more as blockers than receivers. With the numbers Odoms had in 12 seasons, Pitts might reach over his first four to five years in the NFL.
Over the past two seasons, Pitts had 97 receptions for 1,419 yards receiving and 17 TDs in 21 games. Pitts had three for 73 and a TD as a true freshman in 2018. Pitts has developed significantly after being ranked the 162nd player, fifth-best TE and four ranked player in Pennsylvania in 2018.
Chase or Sewell is the safer pick. The Bengals need a franchise left tackle to protect Burrow or another playmaking WR. The Draft is deep at both of those positions. If the Bengals select Pitts they can draft a tackle or WR in the second round and potentially select the other in the third round or next season.
Improving the offensive line is critical in the 2021 NFL Draft. Adding a WR is not nearly as needed. Chase, Pitts and Sewell all project to be great players. The Bengals likely cannot go wrong drafting any of the three. Most Cincinnati fans have an opinion who should be drafted with the fifth pick. The Bengals will be judged regardless.