NAME: Jalen Pitre
HEIGHT: 6’0 2/8″
WEIGHT: 197 lbs
CLASS: Redshirt Senior
HOMETOWN: Stafford, TX
HIGH SCHOOL: Stafford
Three-star recruit in the 2017 class out of Stafford High School. #76 S and #137 player in Texas according to 247Sports composite rankings. Received offers from SMU and Baylor before committing to the Bears in July 2015. Was the only recruit from the class of 2017 to remain committed to Baylor following the Art Briles scandal. Primarily has played ROVER in Waco, a safety/linebacker hybrid position that asks him to play mostly in the box, but also has experience in the slot. First Team All-Big 12 in 2020. Dave Aranda has compared his characteristics to former LSU safety Grant Delpit.
GAMES WATCHED: 2021 – Kansas, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, BYU
Range – 50 (Average): Pitre doesn’t have great straight line speed in pursuit, which limits his range as a deep safety, whether that’s halves or quarters. Keep him in an underneath zone and he owns that entire airspace, though. As long as he keeps everything in front of him, Pitre has the ability to erase nearly an entire side of the field.
Instincts – 65 (Star): No matter what the play is, Pitre seems to be in the area when it ends, even if he’s not the one finishing it. He’ll rocket out of the slot to defend a read option, drop out of the box to chase down an underneath route, whatever you ask of him. 31 games of starter experience shine through here; he’s rarely out of position and you can see him adjusting other players pre-snap.
Tackling – 60 (Above Average): Given his size, Pitre is certainly not going to fool anyone as the next Kam Chancellor. But thanks to his plus instincts, he’s always in position to at least attempt to make a play. He’s perfected the art of ankle tackling, although questions about how this will carry over to the pros are warranted. Against more powerful runners, Pitre will often need the help of his teammates to finish a play instead of being the one to shut things down.
Run Support – 65 (Star): Effort goes a long way here, especially considering how often Pitre is asked to help out in the run game as Baylor’s de facto 3rd linebacker. He’s willing to mix it up in the trenches and rarely gets bulldozed by blockers, which forces RBs into new, more crowded lanes as he eats a block. The other side of that coin is that Pitre rarely gets off blocks, which often takes him out of a play and can lead to some bigger gains when he’s acting as a true third-level defender.
Change of Direction – 55 (Above Average): I don’t think Pitre is necessarily a bad athlete, but he’s not a great one either. In man coverage, his hips get a bit sticky at times, but he still has just enough juice to hang around as a trailer QBs have to be cognizant of. On deeper routes, he’ll get caught flat-footed more often that you want out of a deep half safety and struggles to recover due to straight line speed limitations. I think he looks much more fluid in short zones, which may be a function of comfort.
Man Coverage – 40 (Below Average): This is one of the main things that worries me about Pitre’s NFL projection. He struggles with even average WRs and TEs in college, which does not exactly inspire confidence in his ability to erase TE matchups in the pros. More polished route runners use his instincts against him to create separation on complex routes, while bigger players can simply outmuscle him. It’s difficult to imagine the kind of player he’ll have success against as a man defender in the NFL.
Zone Coverage – 55 (Above Average): This would be higher if Pitre showed a bit more as a deep safety, as we’ve talked about, but he’s really not utilized in that role often at Baylor and didn’t wow when he was. As a short and intermediate zone defender, he’s lights out. Body positioning within the zone to take away as much as possible is impeccable, including a few plays where he eliminated the flat receiver and the threat of a QB run simultaneously.
Versatility – 50 (Average): Pitre has played box safety and in the slot as a collegian, but his role in the NFL is going to have to be exclusively box safety because of his deficiencies as a man defender from the slot. He gets a few points because I think he’ll be an excellent special teamer for however long a team has him in that role.
Frame – 40 (Below Average): He’s built like a corner at just over 6′ and less than 200 lbs, but doesn’t have the movement skills to play on the boundary. His frame probably could take on another 15-20 pounds, but is that worth the sacrifices to his agility? As we touched on earlier, he’s not a spectacular athlete at 197, which likely means he’d be just an average one at best if he were 215. It’s one of many things that makes Pitre’s projection difficult.
Physicality – 45 (Fringe Average): Pitre is willing to engage, but rarely imposes any sort of noticeable physicality on opposing players. There’s a few times where he sits back and lets receivers come to him in run situations rather than attacking downhill. When he does come downhill, he plays like a man on fire, but his lack of size makes him easy to outleverage, overpower, and neutralize.
Red Flags – 10/10: My research didn’t uncover any meaningful injury or off-field concerns about Pitre’s longevity. He did have an undisclosed season-ending injury in 2019, but does not appear to have suffered any long-term effects.
Final Grade (w/o RAS): 5.88
Round Grade: 5th
Summary: I have almost no idea what an NFL team is going to do with Jalen Pitre. He feels to me like the latest fun college player that doesn’t find a foothold in the pros, if only because the ROVER/STAR type position he plays at Baylor is not quite en vogue in the NFL yet. I kept thinking he needs safety help over the top when in man coverage until I remembered he is the safety. He has the build of a corner but lines up in the box more than anywhere else. Even if he gained 15 pounds, he’d still be small for a linebacker. He’s blitzing on every other play for the Bears, to the point that I thought I was watching blitz boi era Jamal Adams. What do you do with a guy like this?
I think that ultimately, Pitre’s best path to a long NFL career is to embrace a role as a gunner, at least at first. He looks like he’s been shot out of a cannon anytime he can attack downhill, but gets stonewalled anytime he runs into a block. On returns, there’s fewer blocks from players with set bases, which could be the change Pitre needs to flourish. While he excels in that role, an NFL coaching staff can see if they can develop his man coverage to the point that they can trust him as a nickel or dime DB. Because of how many different roles he’s played in Waco, I think he can pick it up quickly enough to earn a pro team’s trust. In that best case scenario, he profiles as a Jayron Kearse type player (although Kearse is 6’4″).
Follow Alex on Twitter @alexkatson.
One thought on “Jalen Pitre Scouting Report”