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Kyle Pitts breaks Jeremy Shockey’s modern record for yardage as a rookie tight end

The gifted first year tight end got it in the third quarter.

Atlanta Falcons v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Kyle Pitts came into this year with sky-high expectations. It would’ve been impossible for him to exceed the hype he received as the #4 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft—that’s the highest a tight end has ever been drafted—and he has not done so. What he has done is put a quietly record-breaking rookie year.

Today, Pitts broke that record in the third quarter on a nice catch, and he broke it further on the very next play when he exceeded 900 yards for the season. It’s a hugely impressive milestone for a rookie in a shaky offense, and it’s helping to put the Falcons in a position to win this game. As I write this, he has a team-leading five grabs for 83 yards.

Mike Ditka owns the all-time record with 1,076 yards, and it’s certainly within the realm of possibility that Pitts passes that at some point. At the very least, he’s set the franchise record, having blown by Tony Gonzalez’s 930 yards here in the third quarter. Given that he’s done this with rookie mistakes that you’d expect and quiet games where he’s been basically the only credible receiving option on the field is pretty incredible, and a testament to his skill. Even if you readily accept the idea that Pitts has been used as a receiver more than a traditional in-line tight end, he’s working with an offense that has been unable to find its footing for weeks, and one that traded away Julio Jones and lost Calvin Ridley this year. Pitts is doing yeoman’s work even with the occasional mistake.

It goes without saying, but Pitts is a special talent, and someone who is only going to benefit from what we all hope is an improved 2022 Falcons offense. Congratulations to Pitts on setting the kind of milestone he’ll always remember, and let’s hope this is just the first of many records he’ll be setting in his career.