Jalen Pitre, DB
School: Baylor | Conference: Big 12
College Experience: RS Senior | Age: 22
Height / Weight: 5’11” / 198 lbs
Projected Draft Status: Rounds 2-3
Player Comp: Budda Baker
Pitre played well enough during his redshirt junior and senior seasons to be named a first team All Big 12 safety in each of those seasons. During his redshirt senior year, he blew the top off the Big 12, winning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, collecting three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, and two interceptions, the only FBS player to do so in 2021.
In addition to his coverage accolades, Pitre had at least a 1⁄2 tackle for loss in 13 of Baylor’s 14 games last season. Pitre filled the critical role of the STAR position in head coach Dave Aranda’s Baylor defense. A description of that role is below:
When it comes to the STAR position in Baylor’s new defense, think about the edge-rushing and run-stopping ability of Lawrence Taylor mixed with the coverage and big-hitting skills of a Ronnie Lott. Head coach Dave Aranda sees the safety/linebacker hybrid position as “dynamic, multiple . . . a rush end at times, he’s got to be a linebacker at times, and he’s got to be a high safety at times.”
- Has tremendous positional versatility.
- Reliable tackler with good blitzing skills.
- Has high football IQ.
- Top notch coverage instincts.
- An asset in the run game.
- Likely to be a stud in special teams.
- Some concerns about his top end speed in coverage.
- Better in man coverage than zone.
- Not large enough to play LB in the pros.
- Hip tightness in coverage may be an issue against pro WRs.
Let’s See His Work
Jalen Pitre's 88.6 PFF Grade is the highest by a Big 12 Safety since 2019 pic.twitter.com/u5WB6zwMOD— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) March 15, 2022
Jalen Pitre recorded 25 total QB pressures in the 2021 season— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) February 16, 2022
Most by a CB in the PFF era (since 2014) pic.twitter.com/uaforgVqta
#Baylor All American Jalen Pitre running his 40-yard dash at Baylor's Pro Day. #SicEm #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/6Qy2xcHNTl— Grayson Grundhoefer (@GrayGrundhoefer) March 30, 2022
How He Would Fit
Built in the mold of a slightly larger Budda Baker or Tyrann Mathieu, I find Pitre a very intriguing option for the Washington Commanders in the 2022 draft. He excelled in a core role in Baylor’s defense that required a range of capabilities, from rushing the passer to playing single-high free safety.
Pitre is the sort of weapon that a creative defensive coordinator can - and has - use(d) to anchor his top end defense. Does Jack Del Rio’s defense fit that bill? It’s not entirely clear that it does, but we know that this coaching staff does value defensive positional flexibility. Pitre’s ability to play in the slot, at nickel, or either of the safety positions seem to be well suited to the direction of the modern NFL. I had actually hoped that perhaps the team might explore alternative options - including Dave Aranda - at defensive coordinator this offseason. Short of a change at the top, perhaps Pitre could help infuse some of Baylor’s schematic versatility into the Commanders’ D.
I’d strongly consider using Washington’s second round pick on Pitre, if he’s still available at that spot.
In what round would you like to see Washington draft Jalen Pitre?
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