Pro Football Focus (PFF) has listed its Top 5 tight ends for 2021 and Kyle Pitts is listed as No. 4.
It seems a bit premature for a player who hasn’t taken an NFL snap to be listed among the Top 5 at his position.
But Pitts is no ordinary tight end. He’s the highest drafted tight end in the history of the NFL draft. We’ve compared him more to jumbo receivers like Plaxico Burress than other tight ends.
Not to mention that the tight end is usually the third target, at best, on most NFL teams.
The players listed ahead of him are Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs, George Kittle of the San Francisco 49ers, and Darren Waller of the Las Vegas Raiders. Dallas Goedert of the Philadelphia Eagles rounds out the Top 5.
Waller led all tight ends with 107 catches last season, he added six touchdowns. It’s a stretch to think Pitts could have those kind of numbers while sharing targets with Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley.
But there is a precipitous drop-off after the Top 2
1. Darren Waller 107 catches, 1,196 yards, 6 TDs
2. Travis Kelce 105 catches, 1,416 yards, 9 TDs
3. Logan Thomas 72 catches, 670 yards, 6 TDs
4. T.J. Hockerson 67 catches, 723 yards, 6 TDs
5. Evan Engram 63 catches, 654 yards, 1 TD
Kittle had 48 catches for 634 yards and 2 TDs in only eight games.
It would be a disappointing season for Pitts if he didn’t crack the Top 5 if the numbers put up by tight ends are similar this season.
Assuming Julio Jones isn’t traded, we can look at the 2019 Atlanta Falcons for an idea of what to expect from Pitts.
That season Jones, Ridley and Austin Hooper combined for 237 catches, 3,047 yards, and 19 touchdowns. Hooper, who made the Pro-Bowl as a tight end that season, had 75 catches for 787 yards and six touchdowns.
Hooper and Ridley only played 13 games and started only 10 each that season.
Falcons fans can reasonably expect Pitts, the best tight end prospect of all-time, to match the numbers put up by Hooper in 2019 making the PFF Top 5 list justified.
To justify the No. 4 overall pick in the draft, the Falcons should expect Pitts to match the numbers put up by Kittle and Kelce by his third year in the league.