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NFL Draft: Could the Giants make a play for Florida tight end Kyle Pitts?

Florida's Kyle Pitts celebrates a touchdown against Vanderbilt

Florida's Kyle Pitts celebrates a touchdown against Vanderbilt at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on November 9, 2019 in Gainesville, Florida.  Credit: TNS/Sam Greenwood

As we get closer and closer to the NFL Draft, the chattersphere fills with more and more clutter. Scouts, coaches, general managers, they’re all using their words — the ones spoken publicly and behind closed doors — in an attempt to tilt the upcoming proceedings in their favor.

But last week when Dave Gettleman was asked about Kyle Pitts, the tight end from Florida, well, his excitement and enthusiasm for the prospect bubbled up through any semblance of a smokescreen.

"He’s a uniquely talented player," the Giants general manager said. "You can’t characterize him as just a receiving tight end because you watch him block and he’s got a lot of blocking grit. He’s got some nice fundamentals down and he’s certainly big enough. He’s a different breed of cat, now. He’s very talented."

Gettleman isn’t alone in lauding Pitts. Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN says Pitts is the best tight end, and not only in this draft class.

"I go back to Kellen Winslow Sr. when I first started in this business coming out of Missouri had a tremendously high grade, Kellen Winslow Jr. did as well, Vernon Davis," Kiper said. "But, after it’s all said and done . . . Kyle Pitts is the highest-rated tight end ever."

Florida coach Dan Mullen called Pitts "a unicorn."

It’s fun to think about him flying around the field for the Giants, playing off the rest of the offensive playmakers the Giants have for the upcoming season, catching seam passes off play-action fakes to Saquon Barkley, cutting off short routes under deeper ones run by Kenny Golladay. Too bad he probably won’t be there when the Giants are on the clock with the 11th pick on Thursday night.

Unless . . .

If Gettleman’s impression of Pitts is true, the Giants could trade up and get him. A different breed of cat sometimes requires a different brand of nip.

The Giants have been looking for a player like Pitts ever since they drafted Travis Beckum in 2009. Three years later they thought they’d found "the JPP of tight ends" in Adrien Robinson. When neither of those worked out they selected Evan Engram in the first round in 2017.

He’s been solid but has never quite fulfilled the potential most see in him. And they still have Engram. But he’s hardly an impediment to the Giants drafting Pitts if they really want him.

"If you know you’ve got a guy who’s contract is up and because of the financial aspect you decide you’re not going to do it, then sure, you may draft a player to fill the need that you know you’re going to have," Gettleman said. "You absolutely take that into consideration."

Engram is in the last year of his rookie deal.

"People always talk about the draft guys obviously are cheaper labor, so to speak, so you’re going to do that," Gettleman said. "That’s part of the big-picture look that you have to take when you’re drafting."

Over the next five years, and with the salary cap not expected to burst from the television money until 2023, Pitts’ rookie deal would almost certainly be cheaper than an Engram extension.

Oh, there’s one more element to this. Engram may actually help the Giants move up to land Pitts.

"You want to always take value," Gettleman said of draft picks. "I think really and truly that just because you take a guy, there’s no law against maybe flipping him or flipping the guy you already have on your roster."

Yes, it’s possible Engram could be traded as part of the package the Giants use to get Pitts. Or traded after a Pitts deal to recoup any assets the Giants spent.

Will it really happen? Or is this just another infusion of speculation into the chattersphere? That depends on a lot of factors.

What’s undeniable is that Pitts is the most valuable non-quarterback in this draft, and if Gettleman and the Giants really want to select him, there is a way to do so.

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