The NFL Draft is a funny thing. There is no real way to know which players will become the stars, and which players will become complete busts. There is a pretty even mix of both types.
For every JaMarcus Russell, that is pretty much a first-round flop at this point, there is a Chad Lewis who went undrafted but becomes an All-Pro tight-end.
Another BYU tight-end is poised to join the ranks of quality tight-ends coming out of Provo.
With Dennis Pitta being drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the fourth round of the NFL draft, I would have to say that the Ravens made an excellent choice.
Pitta was a consensus All-American in his senior season, and to be totally honest I have no idea how he slipped so far down in the draft as he was the seventh tight-end selected.
I would have to say it is one of those BCS biases that have grown up in recent years, though there has been some research to show that non-BCS players are just as successful, and in some cases more so than players from BCS teams.
Not that I think he will need it, but this just gives Pitta a great reason to go out and prove all of those other teams wrong.
Pitta is a big strong tight-end that plays like a receiver but is built like a defensive end. At 6’4” and 245 pounds he creates all kinds of matchup problems for teams trying to corral him.
There were numerous times last season that Pitta was double and triple teamed but he still managed to make a lot of catches and have a great year. He is the big body at tight-end that quarterbacks love.
He is too big for the corners and safeties and too quick for a lot of linebackers. If there is any doubt as to his abilities keep in mind that he is the NCAA all time leader in receiving yards for tight-ends with 2,901 yards.
Pitta will be joining his old teammate John Beck in Baltimore, though it is Ravens starter Joe Flacco who will be the one tossing the ball to the Ravens newest tight-end.
The Ravens boast a talented group of tight-ends that should force Pitta to work his tail off and show Ravens’ fans what he has shown BYU fans for the last four years.
Todd Heap is the main man in Baltimore right now, but at 30-years-old he will likely not be there all that much longer.
It is interesting that the Ravens would pick two tight-ends (Ed Dickson of Oregon was drafted in the third round by the Ravens) but they fit perfectly into the type of offense that Cam Cameron likes to run.
Cameron has a philosophy of big throwing to big. He has the big quarterback with the 6’6” Flacco, and now he has two more big, athletic tight-ends to throw to.
Both Dickson and Pitta will compete with a Ravens draft pick from last year, Davon Drew, to backup Heap at tight-end.
Three other Cougars signed as free agents with teams on Saturday.
The other half of the best tight-end tandem in college football last season, Andrew George, signed with the Carolina Panthers.
Despite being overshadowed by Pitta through most of his career, George had an excellent stay in Provo, and should prove an asset to a team that is trying to figure out who their quarterback will be, now and in the future.
Max Hall was signed by the Arizona Cardinals who are chock full of quarterbacks, none of whom have secured their spot.
The situation in Arizona should be good for Hall to get a chance if he can prove himself, since the situation is so muddled, but with that many quarterbacks fighting for time it may be tough to put on a good showing.
Manase Tonga rounded out the free-agents signing with the Oakland Raiders. I am not sure there is anything good that can be said about the Raiders themselves, but at least Tonga will have a chance to show what he can do.
Playing mostly as a fullback doesn’t give you much chance to put up big numbers, but anyone who has watched Tonga play knows that he has some serious heart and leadership. The Raiders would be well-served to give him a real shot.
I am not overly surprised with how the draft played out for BYU players, though I would have been equally unsurprised if these three had been selected, and Pitta had gone higher.
They are all in good positions to succeed and it will be fun to see how it all plays out in the coming years.