Buckle up and enjoy the ride: Kyle Pitts is headed to the ATL.
Considered as arguably the best prospect in this year's draft pool no matter the position, Pitts entered draft night as a highly coveted entity and was atop many franchise's big boards.
Recruited as part of Dan Mullen’s first-class at UF, Pitts was a key piece to the puzzle for Florida’s return to sustained success.
Culminating in what was a phenomenal junior campaign in 2020, Pitts would put the NFL on notice, dominating in the eight contests he participated in.
Predominantly utilized as the Gators' number one receiving option, Pitts produced at an astronomically high level, securing 43 receptions for 770 yards — 17.9 yards per catch — and 12 touchdowns (tied for third-most in the NCAA) on the year.
Exceeding expectations for his collegiate career, Pitts quickly shot up draft boards due to his unparalleled physical intangibles and receiving skills.
Despite being consistently mocked to Atlanta, there was speculation that the Falcons would attempt to secure their signal-caller of the future with Matt Ryan’s career slowly coming to a close. However, with three quarterbacks taken ahead of the pick at four, new Falcons head coach Arthur Smith and general manager Terry Fontenot chose to target the best available player on the board.
Adding Pitts to the plethora of skill position players on the offensive side of the football for the Falcons, Atlanta is slated to, yet again, be a dominant offensive force next season.
With that said, what role will Kyle Pitts serve in fueling the fire that will be the Atlanta Falcons offense?
As the highest-rated tight end prospect the draft has ever seen, Pitts is more NFL-ready than any individual that has come before him from a receiving standpoint.
Ripe for the taking for Atlanta at four, Pitts’ talent and value outweighed the possible desire to patch a hole defensively. With defense being next on the front office's minds going forward in the draft, the move to add another weapon to the arsenal of pass-catchers shows Atlanta’s desire to outscore opponents in the early days of the new regime.
Doing so with arguably the best group of weapons the NFL has to offer, the Falcons brought in a man that pairs an impressive mix of size — standing at 6-foot-6, 250 pounds — speed and athleticism.
As a rare breed of human, characterized as a unicorn for his uncanny physical attributes and skillset, Pitts provides an intriguing nature that centers around his wide receiver-like abilities in a tight end's body.
Maneuvering with great fluidity, there is no limit to Pitts’ route tree, as he moves sharply in and out of breaks to creates separation with consistency. Likely to be utilized across the middle of the field in a large capacity, Pitts will quickly find himself a high volume option for Ryan, who has thrived targeting the middle of the field in his career.
As a result, Pitts is positioned to carve out a similar niche in Atlanta as the one he held at Florida as a reliable possession receiver that also carries a propensity for chunk yardage after the catch after the play due to his deceiving speed.
Providing excellent body control, length, and high-point ability, Pitts was heavily relied upon to bring in difficult receptions in double coverage at Florida, a facet of his game that will pay dividends for the Falcons when within striking distance.
While Pitts is set to see targets at any point on the field, his biggest impact will likely come inside the red zone, an area Ryan has struggled to find his number one playmaker in Julio Jones for years.
Adding a big-bodied target to the mix that can win jump balls against any defender that is set in his path, Pitts provides a closer to the Atlanta lineup, patching the one weakness of Jones throughout his illustrious NFL career.
In times where he is not getting the ball in the red zone, Pitts similarly serves to make up for Jones’ struggles, acting as a decoy for the longtime Falcons star to find the promised land with heightened consistency.
Despite being a freak of nature all the way around, what impresses most about Pitts is how he can move around offensive formations. For Atlanta, utilizing him as a chess piece brings an unpredictability factor to the table, resulting in a chance to be constantly creative in discombobulating opposing defenses.
Taking 409 snaps for the Gators in 2020, Pitts consistently maneuvered his way throughout the Florida offense, seeing 261 snaps at the traditional inline position, 79 snaps in the slot and 69 snaps out wide, playing with utmost consistency in all three positions as nearly all provided mismatches.
Winning against corners and safeties with physicality and scorching linebackers with his 4.4 speed, Pitts always found a way to play to the weaknesses of his opponent.
Equipped with a superb supporting cast in Atlanta, his reign of terror for opposing defenders could very well continue. Alongside Jones, Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage and Hayden Hurst Pitts was a luxury pick for the Falcons offense, a move that will mutually benefit each side.
Set to receive less attention than he did at the college level — due to the others requiring defense's attention — Pitts will be allowed to ease his transition into the NFL while remaining a day one contributor.
With his one major weakness coming as a blocker — likely due to his lack in relative size as a tight end — Pitts was scrutinized as being incomplete.
Showing his desire to be a well-rounded player at the next level, Pitts would drastically improve last season, providing enough potential in that department to allow his elite receiving skills to carry his weight into becoming a top-five draft pick.
As a 20-year old that will have yet to turn 21 when the 2021 season kicks off, Pitts still has room for development, both from a physical and game-oriented standpoint. However, his youthful presence brings life to the Atlanta offense and what the organization believes to be a foundational piece for new beginnings following Dan Quinn’s departure.
Looking to elevate a Falcons offense that recorded points per game last season sat at 24.8, averaging 368.4 yards per game while holding the fourth-most pass attempts (39.2) and fifth-most passing yards per game (272.5) across the league, Pitts has a lot resting on his shoulders given the position of his selection.
However, given his talent, drive and competitiveness, he is up for the task.
While there is still room to work for the Falcons to formulate a sustainable roster on both sides of the football, the selection of Pitts is set to bring top tier production at tight end for years to come, with an opportunity for the generational talent to transcend the position as it is currently known to monumental heights.