NFL draft betting: Is elite tight end prospect Kyle Pitts locked in as a top-five pick?

If you've paid attention to the NFL draft this year, you've heard a lot about quarterbacks (and A LOT about Mac Jones), and that Kyle Pitts is a freak.

It is practically a consensus that Pitts is the best tight end to enter the draft in many years, and perhaps ever. The Florida product was a monster on the field, and his workout numbers are off the charts. Pitts is a phenomenal talent.

But there has always been a cap on how high a tight end can go in the draft. Ron Kramer went fourth to the Green Bay Packers in 1957. Mike Ditka went fifth to the Chicago Bears in 1961 and Riley Odoms went fifth to the Denver Broncos in 1972. Those are the highest picks ever used on tight ends, and the last one in the top five was 49 years ago. When T.J. Hockenson went with the eighth overall pick in 2019, he was only the 13th tight end to go in the top 10 since the merger in 1970.

But tight end is becoming a bigger part of the modern NFL passing game, Pitts is a special case and the odds favor him to be the first tight end selected in the top five since the year Franco Harris was a first-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Kyle Pitts is a rare prospect

At BetMGM, the over/under for Pitts' draft position is set at 5.5. The odds are tilted toward the under. The under is -175, meaning a bettor would have to wager $175 to win $100 if Pitts goes in the top five. The over is +135.

Obviously, the prop needs more analysis than judging Pitts as a player. Nobody really seems to disagree on Pitts' talent anyway.

Pitts is very, very unlikely to go in the top three. Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson are practical locks as the top two picks. The San Francisco 49ers, with George Kittle at tight end, didn't trade a ton to move up to No. 3 and draft a tight end. That leaves two chances for Pitts to be taken top five and cash the prop.

The Atlanta Falcons are a fun possibility. An offense with Calvin Ridley, Julio Jones and Pitts would be fascinating. It also means the Falcons would have to ignore quarterback themselves with Matt Ryan aging, and the inevitable trade offers to move up. Teams will give up a lot to trade up and draft a quarterback. The Falcons would have to decide Pitts is more valuable than those offers.

If Pitts slips to No. 5, that's where the Cincinnati Bengals pick. Cincinnati would be a good landing spot, as the Bengals build around Joe Burrow. The Bengals also have been ripped for not doing enough to build up their offensive line, and it would be hard to argue with tackle Penei Sewell in that spot. The Bengals could also look at top receiver Ja'Marr Chase. And the teams that haven't gotten their quarterback but want one will be calling the Bengals to move up. It might be unlikely but still possible that quarterbacks go with the top five picks, after trades.

Pitts has top-five talent, but being taken in the top five is a different question.

Kyle Pitts could be a rare top-five pick at tight end.  (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)
Kyle Pitts could be a rare top-five pick at tight end. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

Which team will take Pitts?

Yahoo Sports' NFL draft expert Eric Edholm will join us before the draft to share his thoughts on the props from BetMGM:

Edholm: "I'm going under. I think he's going fourth to Atlanta. Assuming the Falcons can't trade out, this would be an easy choice, frankly. Pitts is my No. 2 overall player regardless of position. He's a unicorn. If the Falcons pass on him, the Bengals I think would have to take him at five — yes, even over a tackle or Ja'Marr Chase. There even has been some industry chatter that Miami could try to trade up to 4 (weren't they just at 3 a minute ago?) for Pitts. I doubt that package would be sweet enough. New Falcons coach Arthur Smith seems to believe Matt Ryan has two-plus years left, and don't forget that Smith is a former TE coach who emphasized that position more in the passing game than his predecessor, Matt LaFleur, did in Tennessee. Now you potentially give Smith a duo of Kyle Pitts and Hayden Hurst ... alongside Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley? I think the Falcons jump at that."

The odds on which team will draft Pitts present a small group of favorites:

(BetMGM screen shot)
(BetMGM screen shot)

If Pitts somehow slides past the Dolphins at No. 6 — and it's possible depending on where the quarterbacks go — then someone is going to cash a huge ticket on someone like the Carolina Panthers taking him at No. 8 (and it's impossible to believe the Panthers would pass on Pitts if he fell that far).

Pitts won't wait long to hear his name called in the NFL draft. It seems likely that he'll be in the top five, which would make some history.

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