Expectations for Atlanta Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts were through the roof when he was drafted No. 4 overall in the 2021 draft.
Pitts more or less lived up to those expectations as a rookie. He became just the second tight end to break 1,000 yards in his first season (Mike Ditka was the first).
He suffered a more disappointing sophomore campaign with the Falcons last season. He battled double and triple teams before his season ended in Week 11 after a blind-side shot to the knee in the open field from Chicago Bears safety Eddie Jackson.
Dubin admits that calling Pitts a breakout player comes with an asterisk.
“It feels weird to be picking Pitts as a potential breakout player, but after the way last season went, it makes sense,” wrote Dubin. He followed up a 1,026-yard rookie campaign with an injury-plagued sophomore year during which he caught just 28 of 59 passes thrown his way for only 356 yards and two scores.”
“But look a little deeper: Pitts was targeted on 28% of his routes run, the 12th-highest mark among 334 players who ran at least four routes per game. Those targets were just wildly inaccurate because Marcus Mariota ranked second in the NFL behind only Zach Wilson in off-target throw rate (17.7%), according to Tru Media. It would be almost impossible for Desmond Ridder to be similarly inaccurate, so Pitts has a chance to smash if he can stay healthy.”
I’d argue that Pitts broke out as a rookie. Dubin makes the same argument in a sense. Calling Pitts a bounce-back player makes a lot more sense. He’s in need of a big year after a disappointing 2022 campaign.
Breakout candidates for the Falcons include defensive players like Arnold Ebiketie, Kaden Elliss, and Jeff Okudah… and obviously, Ridder.
His quarterback likes what he’s seeing from Pitts saying he’s hard to miss. Unfortunately as Dubin pointed out, Mariota missed Pitts quite often.
Good health and more reliable quarterback play are Pitts’ best friends this season. With the emergence of Drake London and Tyler Allgeier last year as rookies, Pitts will face less double and triple teams.
Throw in playmaker Bijan Robinson, and the Atlanta Falcons offense looks exciting on paper headed into the 2023 season.