By now, it's no secret that Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. is a capable No. 1 receiver.
The third-year pass-catcher is coming off of his first 1,000-yard season and is off to a great start in 2022. However, Pittman has made a strong impression around the NFL that he might just be one of the league's best at the position overall.
According to NFL insider Jordan Schultz of The Score, one league general manager that he spoke with compared Pittman to future Pro Football Hall-of-Famer Larry Fitzgerald.
"Just the way (Pittman) is able to separate at the line and also at the top of his routes," the GM said when comparing Pittman and Fitzgerald. "His size, too… Going to be one of the best for a long time."
In 17 seasons, Fitzgerald essentially rewrote the Arizona Cardinals record books and ranks atop or among the top three in NFL history in numerous categories. He's a strong bet to be a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer when he becomes eligible in a few years.
For Pittman to receive that sort of comparison in his gameplay to Fitzgerald is nothing to scoff at, and it's not only that anonymous NFL GM that has taken notice of the Colts' young star.
"(Pittman) always has a good plan of what he wants to do," an NFL offensive coach told Schultz. "If he's pressed, he's strong enough to counter, and the basketball background that we've talked about is very clear."
Schultz himself compared Pittman to the likes of Fitzgerald and a couple of other recent greats. "Players like Fitzgerald, Davante Adams, and Anquan Boldin possessed great technical skills as bigger receivers who didn't necessarily run the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds," Schultz said. "Pittman, who's yet to turn 24, seems to have all the tools to be one of the next great ones."
In two games so far this season, Pittman is averaging 8.5 receptions for 96.5 yards and scored a touchdown in Week 1, showing far and away that he's the dominant pass-catcher on the Colts' offense. Now through two seasons and change, he has started 27-of-32 games, catching 145-of-212 targets for 1,778 yards (12.3 avg.) and 8 touchdowns. He's also carried the ball 8 times for 70 yards (8.8 avg.).
Pittman's pace puts him right in the mix with former great Colts receivers like Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Bill Brooks, and most recently, T.Y. Hilton.
His head coach, Frank Reich, is not surprised to see Pittman continuing to flourish after the clear improvements that he's made.
“Man, it’s unbelievable," Reich recently told reporters about Pittman's development between his rookie year in 2020 to now. "This guy is, I mean, he’s just a player. He’s becoming more refined in his route running. Every year he’s gotten better as a route runner. He’s the ultimate competitor, the ultimate tough guy. The two things I think I’ve seen early so far are continued improvement in route running and leadership stepping up in a significant way.”
New Colts quarterback Matt Ryan took a liking right away to Pittman in the Colts' passing game, and it's coming to fruition on the field. Don't be surprised to see Pittman continue to put up Pro Bowl-level numbers throughout the season.
Pittman and the Colts continue their 2022 campaign this Sunday at 1:00pm ET at home against the Tennessee Titans.