When the Atlanta Falcons took Kyle Pitts with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, he became the highest pick ever used on a tight end.
Some pundits called him the best tight end prospect in the history of the NFL Draft.
Needless to say, the expectations were huge on the then 20-year old rookie.
And Kyle Pitts met them… if not exceeded the expectations placed on him in 2021 (Kyle Pitts Highlights). Pitts became only the second-rookie tight end in history to break 1,000 yards receiving, behind only Mike Ditka in 1961.
Ditka never broke the 1,000-yard mark again, but Bill Barnwell of ESPN predicts Pitts is only scratching the surface. In his recent ESPN Insider column, Barnwell predicts several breakout players, but he puts them in tiers.
Quarterback Trey Lance of the San Francisco 49ers gets the biggest leap, from “bench to supernova”, but Pitts is right behind him Barnwell predicts him to go from “Pro Bowl to Superstar“.
“About the only thing Pitts didn’t do was score touchdowns, with the No. 4 overall pick scoring once on 110 targets,” writes Barnwell on ESPN. “Only 14 of those targets came in the red zone, and with him garnering one of the lowest target rates in the league inside the 20-yard line, we can probably guess teams were already looking out for him in those situations. Even if that continues to be true, Pitts should score more often by sheer chance in 2022.”
“I’m not optimistic about Atlanta’s chances this season, but it has a pair of building blocks in Pitts and cornerback A.J. Terrell, a fellow first-round pick who enjoyed this sort of second-year leap to superstardom a year ago.”
The Falcons could struggle this season with just under 40% of their salary cap not on the field (depending on Deion Jones), but Pitts and Terrell are terrific, young building blocks for the future.
And if Barnwell is correct, Pitts takes it to another level in 2022.