Has there ever been more excitement surrounding the NFL arrival of a tight end than what is happening with Kyle Pitts? The short answer, no.
The No. 4 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft has yet to take the field, but already has won over the league for his upside he brings to the Atlanta Falcons. The consensus is that Pitts' elite skills as a pass-catcher for Florida will make him a can't-miss target in 2021.
It's too early to say, for instance, that he's a sure-fire Hall-of-Fame player, but San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle has liked what he's seen. After spending several days with him, the All-Pro can see what makes the rookie so special of a player as he enters his first season.
"I'm a Kyle Pitts fan," Kittle told former NFL tight end, Greg Olsen, on the "Pardon My Take" podcast, promoting last month's Tight End University summit. "I saw last year, the dude just scores touchdowns like it's nothing. It's crazy. ...
"With his athletic ability and his ability on the football field, he's going to be very [productive] in Atlanta. I wanted him to be the first tight end to go first. I mean, I get [why not], but I would've drafted him first."
Pitts wasn't the first player off the board, but scouts did view him as a top player in the 2021 NFL Draft. Several stated that after Clemson's Trevor Lawrence, he was the safest pick last April.
Quarterbacks went 1, 2, 3 with Lawrence, Zach Wilson and Trey Lance going to Jacksonville, the New York Jets and San Francisco, respectively. With the next pick, Atlanta added a do-it-all weapon for new coach Arthur Smith and Matt Ryan to build around this fall.
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The Falcons could be running more of a 12-man personnel with Smith calling the shots. Last season as the Titans offensive coordinator, that team did finish second in rushing attempts per game, averaging 31.4 snaps on the ground.
Pitts will play more of a flex tight end option, but fourth-year pro Hayden Hurst still adds value for Smith's offense. During the 2020 season, the Titans watched both Jonnu Smith and Anthony Fisker post career numbers in the Music City on the way to an AFC South title.
The expectations are the same in Atlanta. Pitts will be the Smith, Hurst will be the Frisker.
Atlanta will be without its previous lead receiver now that Julio Jones is in Tennessee. The hope is that Pitts can pick up the production and allow Russell Gage to remain a high-end No. 3 in the passing game.
The Falcons still have Calvin Ridley as well, who is coming off a career year and a top-five finish in receiving yards.
As the offense looks to evolve under a new head coach, Pitts is the safest player to breakout next season in the NFL. Having the support of perhaps the game's top tight end is just the icing on the cake for a franchise looking to show it is ready to contend - and to grow the "Kyle Pitts Fan Club.''
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