The Cowboys limped through a brutal 2020 season to miss out on the postseason bracket with an embarrassing 6-10 record. The consolation prize? The tenth overall pick in the upcoming draft, the ideal opportunity to address any one of the glaring holes on the historically-bad defense that put them in that spot to begin with.

Pick any position on that side of the ball, and Dallas could certainly use an elite college prospect. So for the team to be even thinking about using their high first-round selection on an offensive player, he’d have to be something really special.

Hello, Kyle Pitts.

At least, that’s what nearly every draftnik on the planet is telling you right now: that the 20-year-old tight end out of Florida is a- cringe and say it with me- “generational talent.”

Pitts showed off both his physique and skills at the Gators’ Pro Day on Wednesday, and seemed to live up to the hype.

That wingspan alone should raise some eyebrows, particularly in Dallas, where the Cowboys led the NFL in dropped passes last season.

But Pitts can flat-out fly, too, as evidenced by his 40-yard-dash time.

Skeptics will point out that, because the sprint came at the school’s Pro Day, that 4.44 time is unofficial and should therefore be judged somewhat warily. (Home field, familiar playing surface, controlled conditions, friendly timers, etc.) But the numbers show that, for whatever reason, the stopwatches in Gainesville are actually a little on the slow side.

Talent evaluator Warren Sharp compares the Florida tight end’s 40 time to those of Calvin Johnson and Mike Evans.

Famed draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. calls Pitts, simply, “my highest graded tight end EVER.”

But does that mean he’s worth a top-ten pick?

There are those who argue that taking a tight end- any tight end- that early in the first round is insanity, plain and simple. But NFL history is littered with first-round tight ends, and while some turned out to be busts, many are among the game’s all-time greats.

Mike Ditka, Ozzie Newsome, Kellen Winslow, Tony Gonzalez, Jeremy Shockey, Dallas Clark, Vernon Davis, Greg Olsen: all first-rounders.

Since 1961, 62 tight ends have been chosen in the first round. That’s better than one per year, on average. In 1970, 1973, 1978, 2002, and 2017, three tight ends came off the board in the first round. Heck, in 2019, there were two from the same school.

The Cowboys have gone tight end in the first round three times. In 1973, they took Billy Joe Dupree out of Michigan State at 20. In 1984’s supplemental USFL draft, they picked Todd Fowler from Stephen F. Austin at 25. And in 1997, they used the 22nd pick on LSU’s David LaFleur.

But there’s a noticeable difference, some will say, between taking a tight end in the mid-20s and using a top ten pick on one.

That’s happened 16 times since 1961, so it’s not unheard of. Most recently, the Lions used the No. 8 pick on Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson two years ago. Ditka, Riley Odoms, Ken McAfee, Kyle Brady, Ricky Dudley, Kellen Winslow Jr., and the aforementioned Davis were also top-ten selections.

So a tight end coming off the board within the first ten picks is far from unusual. In fact, Pitts’s collegiate body of work and the meteoric rise to his draft stock over the past few weeks suggest that he might not even be there when the Cowboys find themselves on the clock at 10.

But if he is, do the Cowboys bite? It would come down to the age-old debate of drafting for need versus taking the best player available.

Trying to shore up the defense with a Patrick Surtain II or a Jaycee Horn seems like the easy and logical play, at least looking solely at 2021. The Cowboys offense is already loaded, right?

Maybe not quite as much after 2021, when Michael Gallup’s contract is up. Gallup’s skills are undeniable, and he’s built an impressive highlight reel of acrobatic and contested catches in his four seasons as a Cowboy. But as his ranking among the league’s wideouts improves, common sense bookkeeping says it will be very difficult for the club to afford to keep Gallup after his rookie deal expires.

The interest in Pitts is no knock on Blake Jarwin or Dalton Schultz; both Cowboys tight ends have played superbly and will undoubtedly continue to do so. But all indications are that the Florida junior is truly special, that he has the skills and tools to surpass them on the depth chart right now.

He would upgrade the tight end position on Day One, and he would become even more valuable should Gallup depart after this season. And any amount of time that Gallup and Pitts both happen to be on the same field as Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb? With Dak Prescott throwing?? That’s just video-game ridiculousness.

ESPN’s Todd McShay has said of Pitts, “You can play him in-line, you can put him in the slot, you can use him as a wide receiver. And then, after the catch, this guy, he is special.”

Special enough to hold off on a badly-needed defensive stud? Special enough to take at 10? Special enough that someone else jumps up and grabs him earlier?

It all remains to be seen and will continue to be a major storyline heading into draft day.

To check out Cowboys Wire’s scouting profile on Pitts, go here.

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