NFL Draft Preview: BYU Cougars

NFL Draft day has finally arrived and the Cougars have three players that could potentially be selected: Dennis Pitta, Manase Tonga and Max Hall.  The later two of course are not exactly guarantees to be drafted.  Both Tonga and Hall project as 7th (the last round) round picks at best. 

Pitta on the other hand shouldn't have to wait too long until hearing his name called.  Here is how he projects in comparison to the other draft-eligible tight ends of 2010:

Mock Consensus Rank Player, School HT WT 40 Time Projected Rnd
1 Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma 6'5" 259 4.76 1, 2
2 Rob Grankowski, Arizona 6'6" 258 4.65 2, 3
3 Aaron Hernandez, Florida 6'3" 243 4.40 3, 4, 5
4 Jimmy Graham, Miami 6'6" 262 4.56 3, 4, 5
5 Dennis Pitta, BYU 6'4" 245 4.63 3, 4, 5
6 Anthony McCoy, USC 6'5" 259 4.79 3, 4, 5
7 Ed Dickson, Oregon 6'4" 250 4.61 4, 5, 6
8 Dorin Dickerson, Pitt 6'1" 226 4.40 4, 5, 6
9 Tony Moeaki, Iowa State 6'3" 245 4.68 4, 5, 6
10 Garrett Graham, Wisconsin 6'3" 246 4.73 5, 6, 7


The "mock consensus ranking" implemented above is based upon the most recent mock drafts published by CBS, ESPN, SB Nation's "Mocking the Draft," Walter, and Draft  It should also be mentioned that none of the above players have college career statistics that compare to Pitta.  Still, being from a non-BCS school,  Pitta needed strong performances at the NFL Draft Combine in February, and the Senior Bowl in January, to keep his name in contention among the top-5 tight ends in this draft class.

A more thorough breakdown of where Pitta projects to be drafted after the jump...

Below are the ten NFL teams most likely to draft a tight end in this year's draft based upon need.  Chances are, Pitta will end up with one of these franchises.  Some of these scenarios are intriguing (i.e. New York), others not so much (i.e. Kansas City).

Team Overall Picks Through Five Rounds
Cincinnati 21 (1), 54 (2), 84 (3), 96 (3), 120 (4), 131 (4), 152 (5)
New England 22 (1), 44 (2), 47 (2), 53 (2), 119 (4)
St. Louis 1 (1), 33 (2), 65 (3), 99 (4), 132 (5)
Kansas City 5 (1), 36 (2), 50 (2), 68 (3), 102 (4), 136 (5), 142 (5), 144 (5)
Arizona 26 (1), 58 (2), 88 (3), 89 (3), 123 (4)
Baltimore 25 (1), 57 (2), 156 (5), 157 (5)
Buffalo 9 (1), 41 (2), 72 (3), 107 (4), 140 (5)
Denver 11 (1), 43 (2), 45 (2), 80 (3), 114 (4), 137 (5)
Miami 12 (1), 73 (3), 110 (4), 145 (5)
New York Giants 15 (1), 46 (2), 76 (3), 115 (4), 147 (5)

Based upon this ten-team sample, the highest Pitta will likely be drafted is the late 3rd round. For example, 88th overall to Arizona.  The latest Pitta should fall would be to the late 5th round, such as to Baltimore at 156th or 157th overall. 

So that's his range with his most likely destination being the mid-4th round.  Sound familiar?  It should, Austin Collie was selected in the 4th round, 127th overall, last season.  Pitta projects to be around the same area.  New England (119) and Arizona (123rd) are both very possible destinations in this range should they not select a Gresham or  Grankowski in the earlier rounds. 

Arizona would be a terrific destination for Pitta as he would join a dynamicreceiving core with Larry Fitzgerald, have a former NFL tight end for a head coach in Ken Whisenhunt - and his wife is an Arizona native.  New England is an intriguing option in a similar way to Collie's selection by the Colts.  Pitta would have a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Tom Brady and a class franchise in which to develop as a pro.

Of course, he could also end up with some random team I haven't considered like Green Bay.  Either way, it's an exciting time for the greatest tight end in BYU history and we wish him the best.  Same goes for Hall and Tonga and we hope both players are drafted this weekend and stick on NFL rosters through training camp and into the regular season.

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