Falcons: Disappointing 2022 season results in slide down PFF rankings for Kyle Pitts

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It is ranking season, and the Falcons are well-represented on PFF’s positional rankings after an offseason filled with upgrades. However, there were already stars on the roster, one of them being the highest-drafted tight end in league history — Kyle Pitts.

Despite being a freak athlete, Pro Football Focus expectedly dropped him in their annual rankings after a lackluster sophomore season following a spectacular rookie campaign.

7. KYLE PITTSATLANTA FALCONS

If this list was compiled a year ago, Pitts would be in the top five after a tremendous rookie season. Then 2022 happened, which was nothing less than a disaster for fantasy owners and Pitts’ stock. The talent is no doubt still there, but he needs to be utilized more optimally with better QB play.

Below are the players listed ahead of Pitts:

  1. Travis Kelce
  2. Mark Andrews
  3. George Kittle
  4. Dallas Goedert
  5. T.J. Hockenson
  6. Pat Freiermuth

Following a Pro Bowl campaign as a rookie, in which he set several franchise records and finished just shy of Mike Ditka’s record for the most receiving yards by a tight end in year one, Pitts’ second season was nothing short of a disaster.

In 10 games, he had just 28 catches for 356 yards with two touchdowns, ending his season on the IR. Despite the underwhelming stat line, it’s to no fault of Pitts.

He remains arguably the most physically gifted tight end in the league, but the drop-off from Matt Ryan to Marcus Mariota was significant. Arthur Smith consistently took the ball out of Mariota’s hands for long stretches of games, relying on the rushing attack, which caused Pitts’ production to plummet.

There is hope the change to Desmond Ridder will improve the Falcons’ passing attack, specifically the deep ball targets, which Mariota frequently missed. The Falcons pass catchers were among the league leaders in off-target rates in 2022 — Pitts leading the league by a large margin.

The ball was deemed off-target 29% of the time Mariota targeted Pitts, with the next closest being 26% — Drake London was fifth to last with a 19% off-target rate, but I assume the metric improved when the club moved to Ridder.

Kyle Pitts can be a top-three player at his position in the right situation, and if he’s the featured receiver, he could be the best tight end in football. Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez, the consensus top tight end in football right now in Travis Kelce, Bill Belichick, and everyone else has showered Kyle Pitts with praise. He’s in line for a significant bounce back campaign in 2023.

Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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