According to Action Network, Kyle Pitts is tied with Ja’Marr Chase and Najee Harris for the sixth-best odds to win offensive rookie of the year at +1100 behind Trevor Lawerence (+275), Justin Fields (+500), Trey Lance (+600), Zach Wilson (+700), and Mac Jones (+1000). Obviously, quarterbacks have a better chance of winning the award given their positional value. They can single-handily turn a losing franchise into a winning one in the blink of an eye — something tight ends are incapable of. But if we compare Kyle Pitts to past rookie tight ends, he has a real chance to have one of the best rookie seasons in NFL history and potentially break a few long-standing records.
The first being the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year award, which Mike Ditka last won in 1961. In 14 games, Ditka caught 56 passes for an NFL rookie record of 1,076 yards, adding 12 touchdowns which is also a tight end rookie record. With a new 18-week-schedule, Pitts will have an opportunity to etch his name in NFL history with three more games than Ditka had. The former Florida Gator would have to average 64 yards a week for 17 games to break the long-standing rookie receiving yards record.
In 1988, Keith Jackson had one of the greatest seasons a tight end ever had after recording an all-time rookie-leading 81 receptions for the Eagles. If Pitts averaged five catches a game, he could break another long-standing rookie record. There are also single-game tight-end rookie records that Pitts has a chance to threaten. Jackie Smith holds the single-game rookie record for tight ends with 212 receiving yards back in 1963 for the St. Louis Cardinals. Mark Bavaro set the record for most receptions (12) in a single game for a rookie tight end in 1985 with the Giants. Ditka, who owns many tight end records, had three touchdowns in a game against the division rival Green Bay Packers during his rookie year.
With Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, Pitts will see single-coverage in Atlanta more than he would if he went to Miami or Cincinnati. Ridley has shown he’s capable of being a team’s first option after being named an All-Pro in Julio’s absence, but fans seem to forget exactly who the alpha receiver in this league is. When healthy, Jones can turn any defense into mincemeat. He’s still one of the best at his position and is a guaranteed double-team on any given Sunday. A defensive coordinator can’t double team Jones, Ridley, and Pitts without completely opening up everything else for the offense. The possibilities for these three in Smith’s system are sky-high; expect big numbers from everyone.