The Falcons made Kyle Pitts the highest-picked tight end in league history after selecting him fourth overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. He was easily the best non-quarterback prospect of the 2021 NFL Draft, so from the very beginning, there was almost insurmountable pressure put on him. Pitts hauled in 68 receptions for 1,026 yards, an average of 15.1 yards per reception, and eclipsed a bevy of franchise records this season.
He became the first rookie tight end in 60 years to surpass 1,000 receiving yards; he’s also Atlanta’s all-time rookie receiving yards leader, a title previously held by Julio Jones for a decade. Pitts passed Tony Gonzalez for the most single-season receiving yards in team history from a tight end and was rewarded with a spot in the Pro Bowl — the first rookie tight end to make the Pro Bowl since Jeremy Shockey in 2002. Kyle also finished the season just short of Mike Ditka’s rookie receiving record for tight ends, which Ditka set in 1961 after totaling 1,076 yards. Despite coming up short of Ditka’s record, Pitts was a sensational rookie by most metrics.
Without any significant receiving threats alongside him this season, Pitts faced defenses’ best cover guys with more combo/bracket coverage than single coverage. As he and Matt Ryan build a stronger connection, Pitts will be a headache for every defensive coordinator in the league. Arthur Smith knows exactly how special he is, describing Pitts as “just scratching the surface” at one point. It will be fascinating to follow this sensational rookie’s career.
Former Pro Bowl tight end Vernon Davis had some advice for Pitts to maximize his potential. “As long as he works on the little details, he can do it all, has a lot of upside,” Davis said.