Pro Football Focus ranks Falcons TE duo among league’s best

9532011080148 atl v den

There aren’t many elite players on the Falcons roster now that Julio Jones is a member of the Titans. Grady Jarrett is one of the best interior defensive linemen in the league, Jake Matthews is among the best left tackles in the league, and Matt Ryan is still on the fringe of the best quarterbacks in the league. But rookie tight end Kyle Pitts could become, like Jones, the very best at his position.

Because there’s not an abundance of difference-makers at tight end, it is easy to see why Pro Football Focus placed Pitts in elite company in their tight end rankings. PFF’s Ben Linsey recognizes the versatility tight ends must have to be effective in this league, “The league is lacking players who can consistently win as receivers, regardless of alignment, while still forcing defenses to respect them inline as blockers. That skill set is what gives the small upper tier at the tight end position its value. Beyond those three to four names at the top, you’re left to sift through a group of developing up-and-comers (i.e., Noah Fant) and steady veteran presences who don’t necessarily provide a dynamic, big-play threat in the passing game (i.e., Kyle Rudolph).”

Incredibly, Linsey ranked Pitts as the fourth-best tight end in football without even playing a single snap in the NFL yet.

This may be early for a player who has yet to take an NFL snap, but it’s a reflection of the caliber of prospect Pitts is coming out of Florida. He’s just different.

Pitts has an absurd catch radius at 6-foot-6 with 33.5-inch arms, and he pairs that frame with high-end speed and rare cutting ability at his size. Those measurables helped lead to a 96.1 receiving grade this past season at Florida. The Falcons’ decision to pair him with Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley in Arthur Smith’s new offense poses a difficult challenge for defensive coordinators in the NFC South.

Pitts will align on the boundary, in the slot, and with his hand in the dirt. He can run better routes than any receiver in his draft class with elite burst out of breaks, giving him dangerous change-of-direction skills for a person of his size. Pitts is as good after-the-catch as he is before, a rare and tremendous red-zone threat. Excellent at beating one-on-one press, but also great at finding the soft spot in zones. The former Gator, much like Julio Jones, makes normal 50-50 balls, closer to 70-30. His running mate, Hayden Hurst, was also included in the top-32 tight ends:

Hurst was his offense’s primary tight end for the first time in his career last season, stepping in for Hooper in Atlanta following a trade from Baltimore. That increased role came with a hit to his grading profile. Hurst dipped from a 73.1 PFF grade with Baltimore in 2019 down to 58.9 in his first season with the Falcons. He does profile as one of the more sure-handed tight ends in the league, with just three drops to this point in his career on over 150 targets.

Arthur Smith will run multiple tight end sets in excess, so expect this duo to see the field quite a bit together. Tight ends coach Justin Peelle has already been outspoken about the duo’s potential and how often they’ll see the field together. This is one of the three best tight end tandems in the league, behind New England’s and Philadelphia’s.

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: