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Kylie Fitts could be the steal of the draft

UCLA v Utah Photo by George Frey/Getty Images

If Kylie FItts is healthy, and all indications are that he’s fully recovered, then the Chicago Bears found a heck of a football player in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. From an athletic standpoint, he checks all the boxes. Nitpickers will question his length, but he’s good enough with his hands, and has the strength to make up for his 33” arms.

But about those arms, is thirty-three inches really bad?

A few years ago our sister site, Arrowhead Pride, had this article go up in their Fanpost section; How to Draft a Pass Rusher. It was a well researched and thought out piece detailing some baseline numbers that edge rushers should be in the ballpark of.

Number one is college production, and Fitts’ recent tape was hampered by his 2016 and 2017 injuries, but he produced in 2015 when he played in thirteen games. That year, his first in Utah after transferring from UCLA, he led the Pac-12 in forced fumbled (4), and was fourth in the Pac-12 in sacks (7) and pass breakups (10). His combined numbers from his injury plagued 2016 and 2017 don’t even equal what he did as a junior in 2015.

In 2016 a foot injury caused him to miss all but the first two games of that year, but in those two games he was leading the Utes in both sacks and tackles for loss. Last year it was a variety of injuries that slowed his progress, and that ultimately led to him falling to the Bears in the sixth round. Fitts had a nice week of work down at the Senior Bowl, and that helped him get some buzz back after a sub-par 2017 season. “Without a doubt, that did nothing but help him,” Fitts’ agent, Jeremy Newberry, said via The Salt Lake Tribune. “His senior year film was decent, but he played injured the whole year.”

After looking at the physical characteristics of pass rushers, that Arrowhead Pride fanpost determined that 6’3”, 260 pounds is about where you need your edge rushers to be. Fitts checked in at 6’4”, 263 at the combine. They also determined that a 32’ wingspan is the minimum you’d like, and Fitts is at 33 inches.

Check out his spider-graph to see all his measurables from

He’s not a finished product by any means, but he has the work ethic, the size, speed and technique to make an impact in 2018 at outside linebacker. I really liked what I saw the more I dug into Fitts’ tape, but I reached out to a few of our resident Draftniks to get their thoughts on him as a prospect too.

Here’s Andrew Link said about Fitts.

Talent was never the issue for Fitts, it was always his health. The problem is that makes him less experienced than you would like. Fitts has everything you want; speed, length, violent hands, and his motor runs more hot than cold. He sets the edge and rushes with a plan, with several counter moves in his arsenal. He will need to work on getting stronger if he wants to bull rush at the NFL level, but I would be surprised if he didn’t turn heads as a rookie and ultimately develop into a very solid player for the Bears.

Check out Jacob Infante’s take on Fitts.

I agree with a lot of what Andrew said. Fitts’ success in the NFL will depend a lot on his ability to stay healthy. He’s a long, athletic pass rusher with a wide array of hand moves in his arsenal and good bend off the edge. He can shed blocks fairly well, but he sometimes tends get swallowed up by offensive linemen if he doesn’t win the initial battle at the line of scrimmage. Like Andrew said, bulking up should be a focal point of Fitts’ training this offseason, although he’s in a much better situation in that regard than someone like Leonard Floyd was when he was a rookie.

I don’t think he’ll be the long-term starter alongside Floyd off the edge, but I see him becoming a very valuable rotational pass rusher in the long run. This year, though, I expect him to see a good chunk of valuable snaps.

And EJ Snyder weighed in on Fitts as well.

Fitts has the talent and the build to be successful as a true EDGE rusher in the NFL. In studying his film you see the physical traits (speed, length, strength, bend), the skills (can win hand battles, ability to lock out OT’s and disengage, moves and countermoves), and the hustle to win in the pros.

In order to improve he’ll need to learn to engage his top half (hand strength, shoulder power) and his bottom half (speed, leg drive) more often at the same time. He shows ability in both areas, but often shuts off one when using the other. If can consistently combine his lower half speed with upper half power, he could become a very consistent threat off the edge for the Bears. If he stays healthy I think fans will see a solid contribution from him as a rookie as he adapts to the pro game.

Robert gave his thoughts on Fitts back when he was drafted, and you can check that out right here;

What do you guys think?

Will Fitts be an impact player as a rookie, or struggle to get on the field?

Can he be a long term answer off the edge for the Bears?