When the Atlanta Falcons selected Florida tight end Kyle Pitts with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, many expected greatness from the start. 17 games, 68 receptions, and the second-most receiving yards ever in a season by a rookie tight end later, it's safe to say Pitts is well on his way.
What makes Pitts' season even more impressive is that he was the second-youngest player in the NFL, just three days older than Detroit Lions offensive tackle Penei Sewell. Despite Atlanta missing the playoffs, Pitts' rookie year hasn't gone uncelebrated, especially by his peers and former team legends.
Roddy White spent 11 seasons in Atlanta, four of which resulted in Pro Bowl nods, including 2010, when he was also a First Team All-Pro selection. When he talks, fans listen, and he had a lot to say about Pitts.
"Man, the unicorn. That guy, I mean, he does everything, man Kyle. Last year he came in and just destroyed every tight end record," White said. "He's so versatile, man. He can play outside, can play inside, and create separation. He's a mismatch just waiting to happen, man. He's already a Pro Bowler, but I predict he'll be All-Pro the next 7, 8, 9, 10 years.
"I played with Tony Gonzalez, who I consider the best tight end to ever play football, but this guy has everything [Tony] has and more."
Let's do a rundown of Gonzalez' career, relative to all other tight ends in league history: most receptions, most receiving yards, second-most games played, and second-most touchdowns. He's also a 14-time Pro Bowler, six-time First Team All-Pro, and Hall of Fame inductee.
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To say White is high on Pitts is an understatement. Because of his age (21), physical traits (6-6, 245-pounds, 4.44 40-yard dash), and record-breaking rookie season, Pitts has a tremendous ceiling, one that could put him in the same category as the game's elite tight ends.
Drake London and Kyle Pitts
White also has no concerns about how Pitts and Falcons first-round receiver Drake London will complement each other. "Fans should be excited about (the duo). You're going to see a lot of balls over the top. You're going to see a lot of big catches. A lot of one-handed things, a lot of touchdowns.
"You know, we got two guys at 6' 4", 6'5", So get ready because the red zone is going to be — we're going to be dangerous down there."
Pitts had just one touchdown last season but seems poised for much more production in that category this year. While his rookie season was one for the record books, Pitts is just getting started.
After all, he has 16 seasons and 110 touchdowns to go to match Gonzalez. However, if Pitts' on-field impact can come anywhere close to that of Gonzalez, it's safe to say Atlanta will be pleased with its decision to select Pitts.