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2021 On Tap Sports Net NFL Mock Draft: Carolina Panthers – Pick #8

After trading for Sam Darnold to shore up the QB position, the Panthers select an impact pass catcher in Kyle Pitts at #8 in the On Tap mock draft.

Kyle Pitts NFL Draft
Photo: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

The Carolina Panthers were rumored to have interest in drafting a quarterback with the eighth overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, but those rumors were put to rest today as the Panthers made a deal for former New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold.

Considering the money they paid Teddy Bridgewater last season, one would assume there will be a quarterback competition going down in camp for the Panthers this season. It’s worth noting that Darnold will be reunited with his former #1 receiver in Robby Anderson, and an offense led by Joe Brady and Matt Rhule could be the thing that pushes Darnold’s career to new heights if he wins the job.

Following today’s developments, the Panthers would be foolish to pass on tight end/pass catcher Kyle Pitts. He’s one of the most intriguing prospects in this year’s draft and arguably the first or second prospect in the entire draft depending on who you ask.

Pitts is a physical specimen and his pro day numbers and game film are both evidence that he was a man amongst boys even in the perceived best conference in college football. He can line up in the slot, out wide, or inline and has shown an exceptional ability to get open due to his athletic ability and route-running skills. His ability to do so many things for an offense will only add more value to his draft stock.

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Meet The Prospect

At 6-foot-5 and 245 lbs with 4.4 speed, Pitts presents a matchup nightmare for linebackers and defensive backs. Though he falls into the category of tight ends, he can do it all. He can run the entire route tree, go up and get the 50/50 balls, and truly be the main focus of an offense even at the NFL level.

At 6-foot-5 and 245 lbs with 4.4 speed, Pitts presents a matchup nightmare for linebackers and defensive backs. Though he falls into the category of tight ends, he can do it all. He can run the entire route tree, go up and get the 50/50 balls, and truly be the main focus of an offense even at the NFL level.

Pitts benefited from having a few high-round draft picks alongside him at Florida in Kyle Trask and Kadarius Toney, but make no mistake — the Gators offense ran through Pitts during his time in Gainesville. Playing only 24 games as a Gator, Pitts was able to amass 100 receptions 1,492 yards, and 18 touchdowns with an average of 14.9 YPC. Pitts saw an increase in all major statistical categories and has proved to be a willing blocker despite his top-notch playmaking abilities.

The video below shows some good and some bad blocks but will give you a better idea regarding the type of blocker he is, as it may be viewed as the only question mark.

Seeing his playmaking ability and raw athletic talent in action leaves no question that whoever selects Pitts in this year’s draft is getting a player that should be able to step in and contribute immediately. Upon viewing his highlight reel, you’ll notice that not one team in the SEC could contain him, as he scored in every game he played but two. Pitts logged under 50 receiving yards just once in a loss to Texas A&M. He was virtually unstoppable against Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, which is always a good sign considering Alabama has several NFL Draft prospects on their defense.

Placing Kyle Pitts in the same offense as Christian McCaffery should be illegal, so don’t be surprised when you see fantasy owners select both players in their upcoming fantasy drafts. He is the clear-cut best tight end prospect in the draft and would be a steal for the Panthers at eighth overall.


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