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Kyle Pitts revealed to be 6th-highest rated tight end in Madden 23

Following a near historic rookie season, Pitts gets snubbed outside of the top five at his position.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Atlanta Falcons Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

A July tradition has commenced, with the latest edition of the Madden franchise periodically revealing their positional ratings ahead of their August release date. This of course sparks some heated debate between fanbases, and gives us the increased feeling of football in the air, ahead of training camp.

Atlanta’s best representative in these positional power rankings, Kyle Pitts, was among the initial reveals along with his positional contemporaries, with the list of the top 10 highest rated tight ends and wide receivers being the first position groups unveiled this year. Pitts checked in with an overall 87 rating, good for sixth-highest among all NFL tight ends.

Kyle Pitts’ 1,026 receiving yards in 2021 was third-most among all tight ends, behind only Mark Andrews and Travis Kelce, and it was second-most by a rookie tight end in NFL history, behind only Mike Ditka in 1961. Pitts almost immediately stepped into the role of Atlanta’s number one option in the passing game, but his one total touchdown was the flip side of his statistical coin last season.

The room of elite tight ends the past few seasons has consisted of Travis Kelce, George Kittle and Darren Waller, with Mark Andrews’ incredible statistical season in 2021 (leading all TEs with 1,361 receiving yards and nine receiving touchdowns) getting him an invite into that company as well. The promise of Pitts’ upcoming 2022 campaign as a second year breakout candidate, and once again number one option in the passing game, should have him knocking on that door rather quickly.

Kelce, Kittle, Andrews and Waller all register as the four highest rated TEs in Madden 23, which is completely deserved (though, I would understand if there was some gripe over Andrews not having a rating higher than 93 after this past season). The issue Falcons fans will likely have (myself included) is seeing Detroit’s T.J. Hockenson also rated higher than Pitts.

Hockenson registered just 583 receiving yards in 12 games this past season, which ranked 16th among all TEs. Even if you ignore the injuries and look at yards per game, Pitts still beats him out in that part of the game with a mark of 60.35 ypg vs. Hockenson’s 48.58 ypg.

Over his past two seasons combined, as a second and third year player, Hockenson had a combined 1,306 receiving yards in 28 games, which still gives him a much lower yards per game mark (46.64) than what Pitts had in just his rookie season. The touchdown discrepancy isn’t too great either, as Hockenson had just four of them in 2021.

I understand that pass catching isn’t the only dimension when it comes to playing tight end, and the argument might be made that Hockenson was likely higher rated due to the blocking aspect of the position, but PFF actually ranked Pitts as both a superior run blocker and pass blocker in comparison to Detroit’s starting TE (run blocking grade of 55.6 vs. 45.1; pass blocking grade of 69.7 vs. 65.4). The number of snaps where each lined up as a non-pass catcher are also very comparable with Pitts registering 222 snaps as a run blocker and 15 snaps as a pass protector (237 total), and Hockenson registering 212 snaps as a run blocker and 23 snaps in pass protection (235 total).

Pitts finished as the ninth-highest rated TE with an 86 rating in Madden 22’s final roster update, after starting the season out as the league’s highest rated rookie since 2019 with an 81 rating. Moving up to sixth among all TEs in the 2022-23 rendition of the game is somewhat of a remedy to those late Madden 22 updates, but having Pitts outside of the top five, and behind TJ Hockenson, is rather ridiculous given their body of work in 2021.

If Pitts has the season we all expect out of him I foresee his movement into the top five, and maybe even higher, as we begin getting the updated rosters throughout the season.

Madden will continue revealing more position groups each day, as we get closer to Training Camp. I would expect to see A.J. Terrell among the 10 highest rated cornerbacks, and Chris Lindstrom should be a top 10 rated guard, though I could absolutely see him getting snubbed. Drake London will also very likely be a top 10 rated rookie, as his rating of 75 has already been revealed (last year Zach Wilson, Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith and Penei Sewell were all tied for the fifth-highest rating among all rookies with that same 75 mark).

No Falcons wide receivers made the top 10 ranking in their position group, nor were any of them expected to, with Calvin Ridley coming closest with an 86 rating. Rookie receiver Drake London clocked in at a 75, which is probably going to look extremely low in short order considering he’s tied with roster hopeful Auden Tate there.

Madden 23’s official release date is August 19.