Kyle Pitts, Falcons tight ends among ESPN’s ‘units to watch’

953211226024 det v atl

Not many love tight ends like Arthur Smith, which means they’re featured heavily in the Falcons’ offense, led by the highest-drafted player at the position in league history — Kyle Pitts.

The depth chart will likely carry four tight ends, which will be Pitts, Jonnu Smith, Parker Hesse, and MyCole Pruitt. With an offensive mind like Arthur Smith’s, they’re set for prominent and versatile roles.

More often than not, two will be on the field and three will be featured as many as any other offense in the league. It’s primed to be one of the best units in the league, which is why ESPN identified Atlanta’s tight ends as a unit to watch in 2023.

Kyle Pitts is entering his third pro season after a 2022 season in which he ranked second among tight ends in target share (27%), but missed seven games with a knee injury. Pitts, who produced 1,026 yards as a 20-year-old rookie in 2021, remains one of the league’s top offensive prospects, but his health will be a topic of discussion leading into Week 1. Atlanta also added Jonnu Smith, who had his best NFL season when he and coach Arthur Smith were both in Tennessee in 2020.

Kyle Pitts nearly broke the rookie tight end yardage record and entered the 2022 campaign with sky-high expectations. And to little fault of his own, he fell short of those.

He suffered a season-ending injury, but the biggest reason for the drop-off in production was the fact that more than half of his targets were uncatchable, most of which were shot plays. Marcus Mariota couldn’t get him the ball, and Arthur Smith regularly took the ball out of his quarterback’s hand.

If Desmond Ridder can just get it near Pitts, that production should jump back up over 1,000 yards. For the others, it should be more of the same. Jonnu Smith’s best years came under Arthur Smith, and I don’t expect that to change anytime soon.

In 2019, Jonnu Smith hauled in 35 passes for 439 yards and three scores and then followed it up with an even better campaign in 2020, where he recorded 41 receptions for 448 yards and eight touchdowns, adding another on the ground — all career highs. I expect similar production in 2023.

Parker Hesse and MyCole Pruitt will assume supplemental roles behind Pitts and Smith but will be instrumental in the success of the offense because of their ability to contribute in the run game.

As a whole, it’s a very robust unit and should be one of the main drivers of the Falcons’ offense.

Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire


Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: