2020 College Production
Kyle Pitts is one of the best TE prospects to come out of college in quite some time. He was in college for three years but it was during his final two years that made him stand out. In 2019, Pitts secured 54 catches for 649 yards and 5 touchdowns. Pitts played great during his first full season at Florida, but it was his second (and final) season that saw him shoot up everyone’s draft boards. During the 2020 season, Pitts hauled in 43 receptions for 770 yards and 12 touchdowns. He led the nation at his position in yards, yards per catch, and touchdowns. He was the John Mackey award winner (top tight end) and was named as a finalist for the Fred Biletnikoff Award, the trophy given annually to the best pass-catcher in all of college football. To be considered as a finalist for this award, as a tight end, is insane. His skill set is unlike any other TE in this class which will translate to him having immediate success in the NFL.
NFL Draft and Off-season
The Atlanta Falcons selected Kyle Pitts with the 4th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and he was the first non-QB selected. The pressure is high for a tight end selected with this much draft capital, however, early reports out of camp have been nothing but positive for him. He’s being peppered with targets early and often and he’s everything and more the Falcons could have wanted out of him so far.
While the Falcons gave Matt Ryan another weapon on offense, they took a huge weapon away just as quickly. About two months after the NFL draft, the Falcons traded away Pro Bowl WR Julio Jones to the Tennessee Titans in exchange for future draft picks. It was a necessary move to offload his salary and it was a move the team wished they could have waited a year to complete, as this offense would have been one of the best in the league had Julio remained in town. While the trio didn’t last long on one team together, the Falcons now have Calvin Ridley as its WR1 and Kyle Pitts has to be considered the second-best option with Russel Gage being the WR2.
Expectations are Sky-High for 2021
There may not be another rookie with as much hype heading into this season as Kyle Pitts, and for good reason. While Julio Jones no longer being in town will help him immensely in the number of targets he will see, something else that can’t go unstated is the hiring of head coach Arthur Smith. He helped the Titans have a top-2 offense in terms of red zone TD rate in 2019 and 2020 and the Falcons were anything but efficient in the red zone over this same period. While Calvin Ridley is the undisputed WR1 in town, Kyle Pitts is the 2nd-best receiving option for Matt Ryan, and we know how Ryan looks to and utilizes his TE. The offense is going to use a ton of play-action and Kyle Pitts should see a very healthy amount of targets this year.
Pitts’ ADP is anywhere between TE7-11 right now, but that will continue to creep up as we get videos of practice, reports out of camp, and social media will undoubtedly go wild over anything he does during his preseason games. Can he pay off at his current ADP? Absolutely - Pitts has the potential to finish as a top-3 TE and will have immediate value as of Week 1. Fantasy managers should keep expectations in check as we approach draft season, and if his ADP does get to the TE4-5 range you will have to see if his high(er) risk, high reward fits in with the makeup of your team.
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