Last week, we discussed who might lead the 2022 Falcons in passing and rushing, with Desmond Ridder and Tyler Allgeier being my personal choices. Now, we come inevitably to the question of who will lead the team in receiving (yards and touchdowns, chiefly), and you might expect me to keep my rookie run going by selecting Drake London.
Before we get to that—and then your choices, naturally—let’s take a step back and acknowledge how drastically things have changed in Atlanta. The 2019 and 2020 leading wide receivers for the Falcons are now gone, with Calvin Ridley suspended for the season and Russell Gage taking his talents to Tampa Bay. Out of the ten leading receivers for the 2020 Falcons team, just one is still on the 2021 squad. That’d be noted optimist Olamide Zaccheaus. Chances are that any top ten list from 2022 is going to include just three players who made major marks last year, those being Kyle Pitts, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Zaccheaus.
That change plus the change at quarterback means forecasting who will lead the team in receiving is a little trickier than it was in the heyday of Julio Jones. New addition Bryan Edwards could seize major snaps and produce at a high level, rookie Drake London figures to be a leading target right away, and Kyle Pitts is naturally in the mix. Who will it be?
My choice? Pitts, of course.
London and Edwards have to be viewed as threats to pass Pitts, given that defensive attention on the tight end will be significant and both players have intriguing talent. It just feels like a no-brainer that a healthy Pitts will be the team’s most productive option, given that he’s one of the most physically gifted receivers/tight ends the NFL has seen and he’s fresh off leading the team in yardage. That one touchdown 2021 feels like it can’t possibly be repeated, given Pitts’ size and talent, and he’s both incredibly young and entering his second season motivated and with lessons learned from his rookie season. There are universes where London and/or Edwards surpass him, but I don’t think we’re living in one of them.
Who is your pick, though?