With the Draft fast approaching, it's time to start looking at some potential players for the Patriots. I'm going to put profiles of 2 players a day- one offense, one defensive- and gain a better understanding of the players in the draft.
BYU's Dennis Pitta is often talked about as a great 4th round selection for the Patriots by people around SBNation. Pitta could be compared to the "poor man's Greg Olsen" as he has spectacular hands and could fill the roll people itching for an Olsen trade want filled. Not known as a fantastic in-line blocker (just like Olsen), Pitta is still a great threat in the receiving game. Pitta has the size to succeed in the NFL and showed his athleticism with a successful combine. Pitta makes an interesting prospect due to his prolific receiving skills and has a chance to be just as successful as the triumvirate of TEs known as 1st and 2nd round picks (Gresham, Gronkowski and Hernandez). A year behind new Patriots TE Alge Crumpler could do a lot of good for Pitta as he learns how to block in the NFL. TEs have 3 main qualifications in the Patriots offense- line blocking, down field blocking and receiving; Pitta is great at the latter two.
Is he worth a 4th round pick?
His measurements and some quotes after the jump.
Height: 6-4. Weight: 245.
Projected 40 Time: 4.66.
Combine 40 Time: 4.63.
Benchx225: 27. Vertical: 34. Arm: 32 1/4.
Pitta is an older senior in that he has five years of football at BYU plus a two year mission which will put him at 25 during his rookie season. He is more of a receiving tight end than a blocking or dual purpose one and will need some time to get used to lining up in a three point stance as BYU generally flexes their tight ends out in a two point stance. He is not real explosive on his release and will need some work on escaping the press at the next level.
03/16/2010 - PRO DAY RESULTS: BYU's Dennis Pitta (6-foot-4 1/2, 245 pounds) is quietly having a very nice pre-draft workout season. The athletic tight end showed well at the Cougars' pro day, just two weeks after an outstanding NFL Scouting Combine effort. He was a top performer at his position in the bench press, the vertical jump, the broad jump, the three-cone drill, the short shuttle and the long shuttle. Those combine numbers were good enough that he chose not to do any workout drills at his pro day, but scouts report that he did look very good in the positon drills. Pitta has solid hands, but his blocking is still somewhat of a question mark. - Gil Brandt, NFL.com
12/14/2009 - 2009 WALTER CAMP FIRST TEAM ALL-AMERICAN: TE Dennis Pitta, BYU Sr. 6-5 247 Moorpark, CA, has been selected First Team Walter Camp Football Foundation All-American, the 120th honored by the organization. A finalist for the John Mackey Award as the nation's top tight end, Pitta leads all tight ends this year in total receiving yards (784) and receiving yards per game (65.33) while ranking second in receptions yards per game (4.75). This season Pitta became BYU's all-time leader in total receptions overall and career record holder among tight ends in receiving yards and receptions. He is also the NCAA career leader in tight end receiving yards. He has helped BYU earn a 10-2 record and No. 14 ranking in the BCS Standings. A native of Moorpark, Calif., Pitta is the 8th Cougar to be named to the prestigious Walter Camp All-America Team and the first BYU tight end to make the team since Chris Smith in 1990. Overall, he is the third Cougar tight end to earn this accolade as Pitta and Smith were preceded by Hall of Famer Gordon Hudson (1982 and 1983). - BYU football
Pitta’s physicality is more influential than his speed; he uses his hands in the first five yards of the route and gets more than adequate separation from the coverage, though not from his slow step off the snap. Ironically, he is used primarily on the outside rather than asked to dominate the middle of the field, though he has all the physical tangibles to do so.
He has exceptional talent running the sidelines as a wide out and he rarely drops the ball. He has a knack for squaring his shoulders and blocking the linebacker on curl routes.
Pitta is also a spectacular blocker even though he lacks dominant upper body strength. He is used as a downfield run blocker and has the speed to get to the safety or the deep linebacker and put the pop on his man in order to create a lane. The only drawback is that he doesn’t come off a three point stance often and that’s something he’ll have to learn when he reaches the NFL.
Pitta is a mature player who will enter the league with low expectations but will surprise whichever team lucks out in drafting him. He has a high football IQ and is a leader in the locker room.
Verdict: Pitta is a player who I think will flourish in the correct situation. He needs a year of not being the go-to guy, as he was in BYU and he needs a year of tutoring by a premier in-line TE blocker. He needs to go to a place looking for leaders and high quality locker room guys. He needs to go to a team that enjoys physical players and one that wants their players to play to the whistle- which involves running down field and helping with blocking if need be. Oh, and in case you hadn't noticed, the Patriots fit the bill perfectly. Absolutely worth a 4th round pick and I would even advocate trading up to the 3rd round to grab him.