On Thursday, former Florida Gators tight end Kyle Pitts became the highest-drafted tight end in NFL history after being selected fourth overall by the Atlanta Falcons, a moment to cherish for the rest of his life, Pitts described the "surreal" feeling he had when his name was called.
"It's a dream come true to even get drafted," Pitts told the Atlanta media shortly after getting drafted last night. "To be top five, that's something special. The first tight end [to be selected that high], I mean, I don't even know how to put it into words. I'm just elated with joy. I can't even put into words how excited I am.”
It was almost a foregone conclusion that Pitts would ultimately be the first non-quarterback selection in yesterday's draft. After the Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets and the San Francisco 49ers made their picks, all eyes were on the former Florida tight end. He wasn't as certain, however, never getting ripped off by Atlanta selecting him prior to it happening.
"They didn't like overly show it, I guess you'd say," Pitts said of Atlanta's interest in him pre-draft.
"Like all the other teams were, they didn't -- I can't describe it. They didn't give it away, I guess I should say. They weren't throwing any hints. I was just talking to them a lot, having meetings. I was picking their brains, they were picking my brain. I didn't have a feeling. I feel like all the conversations went well, all my interview process went well.”
Now, Pitts can go from an offense that featured him in Florida to an offense led by a former tight end and tight ends coach in Falcons head coach Arthur Smith, something Pitts will embrace from day one.
“Just like Coach Mullen, Coach Smith, they love their tight ends," he explained. "I'm eager to see how they make motions and mismatches in the offense. I'm eager to see how also he uses his all-stars, kind of throw me in the fire.
"I get to learn from someone who played the position, coached the position. He's biased for tight ends. I can't wait to learn from him, take my game to another level.”
With Florida, Pitts was used in a variety of positions. He was able to get deployed in a way to put a defense off-balance and create favorable mismatches. It typically went well, too. In just eight games Pitts accounted for 43 receptions for 770 yards and 12 touchdowns.
He's thankful for the Florida coaching staff for putting him in a position to succeed.
“I think Coach Mullen did a great job in moving me around, making it easy for me to get mismatched with the guys that can't guard me," he said. "It came with a repetition, practice, great game planning. I appreciate, like I said, Coach Mullen for dialing it up, making sure when I do go out into that lineup, I'm winning my matchups and doing my part.”
While he would primarily play in-line at tight end during practice, he would work afterward with former Gators quarterback Kyle Trask at the receiver position outside, something that paid dividends for him during the season when he was tasked to do just that during games at times.
Now, he will have the ability to potentially learn from two potential future Hall of Fame players in Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and receiver Julio Jones, both players he's excited to learn from moving forward.
“I'm just going to be a sponge in the beginning, learning from those guys who are going to be Hall of Famers," said Pitts.
"To be drafted to their team, to be able to learn from them, see how they go about the game, see how they win, how they go about their business is something I can't wait to see. Day one, like I said, I'll be like a sponge soaking everything up, all the knowledge I can, all the relationships I can build. I'm excited for the journey.”