Production is a desired quality from tight ends entering the NFL. Sometimes, however, situational factors and injuries prevent talented tight ends from showing their true worth. Such was the case for Georgia tight end and 2021 NFL Draft prospect Tre’ McKitty. McKitty flies under the radar as a 2021 tight end prospect, but could he be better as a professional?
Tre’ McKitty 2021 NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Tight End
- School: Georgia
- Current Year: Senior
- Height: 6’4 1/4″
- Weight: 246 pounds
- Wingspan: 81″
- Arm: 32 1/4″
- Hand: 11″
Tony Pauline’s Tre’ McKitty Scouting Report
Positives: Well-rounded tight end who is effective as a blocker and pass catcher. Moves well around the field, adjusts to the errant throw, and makes the reception in stride. Extends his hands to grab the ball out of the air. Stout pass catcher who takes a big hit and holds onto the ball. Gives effort blocking, stays square, and anchors at the point.
Negatives: Plays to one speed and shows no burst in his game. Minimally productive throughout his college career.
Analysis: McKitty possesses the size, growth potential, and football skill to get late-round consideration and make a roster as a third tight end.
Tre’ McKitty Player Profile
From an early age, Tre’ McKitty was seen as a potential star at the next level. In high school, McKitty had a chance to play at the famed IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. There, McKitty made a name for himself as a tight end with wide receiver-esque upside.
In the 2017 recruiting class, McKitty was a four-star prospect, and he was ranked inside ESPN’s Top 300. Graded as the fifth overall tight end prospect in the class, McKitty had offers from schools like LSU, Ohio State, Florida, and Miami. Nevertheless, McKitty chose to join up with the Florida State Seminoles, where Jimbo Fisher had spent almost a decade building his program.
Tre’ McKitty’s journey to becoming a Georgia tight end
Unfortunately for McKitty, he joined Florida State at a time of turmoil. In his first season, McKitty only caught one pass for 23 yards while doing most of his work as a special teams player. Toward the end of the season, Fisher left to become the head coach of Texas A&M, and Willie Taggart replaced him.
The transition might’ve spelled doubt for Fisher recruits, but McKitty’s talent allowed him to maintain a purpose in Taggart’s scheme. In 2018, McKitty ascended to the starting lineup, logging 26 catches for 256 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games. The next year, he had a similar output, catching 23 passes for 241 yards in 12 games and nine starts.
McKitty’s transfer to the Georgia Bulldogs
Taggart was fired before the conclusion of the 2019 season, which again mired the future of the head coaching position in uncertainty. The Seminoles settled on Florida State head coach Mike Norvell, but McKitty favored stability for his final collegiate season. In an attempt to boost his stock in 2021, McKitty transferred to Georgia for his senior campaign.
On the surface, the move was good. Georgia had recently lost tight ends Eli Wolf and Charlie Woerner to the NFL. Thus, there was a clear void at the position. McKitty was expected to fill that void, but before the season could start, he suffered a knee injury in the offseason. McKitty required a knee scope, and the resulting rehabilitation sidelined him until mid-October.
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From there, McKitty flashed a few times, but he only managed to put up six catches, 108 yards, and a score in four games. His knee still wasn’t one-hundred percent, and it prevented him from maintaining an impact down the stretch. In December, ahead of the team’s bowl game against Cincinnati, McKitty decided to focus on getting healthy for the offseason. He announced his decision to opt out of the bowl game and officially declared for the 2021 NFL Draft.
Analyzing Tre’ McKitty’s NFL Draft profile
Simply looking at McKitty on the field, it’s easy to see why he was a coveted recruit in high school. Tre’ McKitty is a physical specimen at around 6-foot-4, 246 pounds. He has a very compact build with decent length, and he brings solid play strength, especially in the running game, where he has the willingness and utility to help create lanes for ball carriers.
Of course, McKitty will need to be used more than just as a mere blocking tight end at the NFL level. He has a tremendous amount of receiving potential, most of which remains untapped. The Georgia tight end only caught 56 total passes through four collegiate seasons, but it was enough to showcase his athleticism. McKitty is an underrated athlete for his size, and he transfers a lot of that talent into the receiving game.
Tre’ McKitty’s athletic traits
First and foremost, McKitty is fairly explosive off the line and fluid up the seam. He also shows off good lateral agility and twitch off his breaks. Although he can further refine his route running, McKitty has the necessary suddenness to be an exceptional route runner at his position.
Additionally, the Georgia tight end has enticing run-after-catch potential. He gears up quickly in short ranges, and he has exceptional speed in the open field. He’s not a burner, but his speed allows him to elongate space, and he also has the toughness to grind out yards after the catch. Catching down the field, he shows flashes of excellent body control when contorting for passes, and he’s able to use his vertical athleticism to rise for passes.
What are the issues with McKitty?
Most of McKitty’s issues have to do with his polish and lack of production. In college, McKitty was used in a number of different ways, from the slot to the backfield. Thus, he has a good amount of versatility at the position. The struggle will be finding an adequate role for McKitty at the NFL level, but a creative offensive mind should view that as an opportunity rather than an obstacle.
Going further, McKitty does have a minor injury history. He missed much of his season with Georgia after injuring his knee in the offseason. The injury required a knee scope procedure. Later on in the year, even after his return, it caused him some discomfort and prevented him from playing more than four games.
Beyond that, it’s all about refining his game. McKitty has the physical tools to be a solid player, but he has to keep refining his route running and receiving skills. After that, he has to work to earn a consistent role and hold onto it.
Senior Bowl Performance
Tre’ McKitty was one of the prospects present at the Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. McKitty wasn’t a particularly prestigious prospect coming in, and he didn’t leave as a particularly prestigious prospect. Nevertheless, McKitty had a strong week, and did enough to put his name on the map for NFL scouts. Here’s more from Tony Pauline, courtesy of PFN’s American Team Practice Report.
“Though not great or eye popping in any single aspect, McKitty was a prospect you could not help but notice last week. He caught the ball well and on several occasions won out in battles, beating down opponents to come away with the throw. He constantly came out as the winner in blocking battles all week long. McKitty is not fast or overly athletic, but he’s a solid Day 3 selection who will be a good third tight end in the NFL.”
Tre’ McKitty’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
There’s a clear-cut group at the top of the 2021 tight end class. Even after that, there are a couple of tight ends who have the best chance of going in the middle rounds. McKitty is at the tail end of that middle group. McKitty’s lack of production hampers him a bit. However, improper utilization and injury are key attributes to the lack of production. McKitty has the physical potential to be very good, so long as he lands with a team that can develop him and utilizes him properly.
McKitty has some athletic upside to unearth. However, he didn’t always show that upside in college, and his utility as a receiver remains unclear. He displayed progress at the Senior Bowl, and his experience as a blocker carries plenty of weight. That said, he likely won’t go off the draft board before Day 3. Nevertheless, McKitty looks like a solid high-upside bargain on Day 3.
Teams that mesh well with Tre’ McKitty
If things go right, McKitty’s versatility should earn him some fans. Not only does he have the ability to be a positional blocker, but he can also move around as a receiver, line up in different spots, and contribute to pre-snap motions. For teams like the Carolina Panthers, New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals, and Washington Football Team, he projects as a good pick in Rounds 5 through 7.
For teams with an existing starter, McKitty can be a solid rotational player with developmental potential. And for teams with a competition brewing, McKitty possesses the physical traits to make noise early. The tight end class is strong this season, but the depth of the position goes overlooked, nonetheless. McKitty has the potential to add to this class’s production, even if he himself hasn’t produced to his potential just yet.
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