The Kyle Pitts hype machine has been roaring at a deafening volume for a few months now, but I don’t know that we’ve seen its peak just yet. That may come in the summer months, when Pitts is hopefully doing absurd things at camp, or if we’re very lucky, it’ll come during the season when he’s doing absurd things to NFL defenders. If he’s that good, he’ll be one of the darlings of NFL media in the same way he was in the final weeks before the draft.
For now, though, the hype train is still rolling. NFL.com’s Gil Brandt is the latest to predict that Pitts will have zero issue making a big impact in his first season, naming him as one of eight rookies in a great position to succeed in 2021.
I know tight ends typically face a relatively steep learning curve in the NFL, but that applies more to players who are asked to function as traditional tight ends, blocking and releasing for short passes and so forth. Pitts, however, is a supremely gifted prospect who is extremely well-positioned to make an instant impact as a rookie pass-catcher. Drafted to provide immediate support for veteran QB Matt Ryan, the fourth overall pick will have plenty of chances to shine from the jump, working alongside elite receivers Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. He’s a mismatch nightmare who presents an impossible conundrum for opposing defenses; too difficult for linebackers to cover, Pitts will force Atlanta’s opponents into doing things they don’t want to do.
This is as much about the Falcons offense as it is about Pitts, of course. As Brandt notes, the Falcons did not draft Pitts with the intention of making him the league’s best blocking tight end, but as a weapon who can be lined up anywhere Arthur Smith and Dave Ragone want for maximum havoc. The mere fact that Atlanta isn’t shutting down trade talk for Julio Jones outright tells you how much confidence they have in Pitts being an immediate contributor, and Smith has already said ominous things (for the rest of the league) about how heavily he plans to feature Pitts. When you have a talent like Pitts and an offensive-minded head coach committed to utilizing his talents, you absolutely have a rookie in a position to succeed, one who belongs on a short list with the likes of Jacksonville’s Trevor Lawrence and Pittsburgh’s Najee Harris.
We’re in the very early stages of Pitts’ career, when his potential is truly limitless and all his production is ahead of him. I feel pretty confident that Brandt’s right here in declaring him a player who is likely to succeed in 2021, and the only question is just how special he’ll be out of the gate.