Why Kyle Pitts is expected to be the NFL’s most productive rookie tight end

Kyle Pitts goes into the league with maybe more pressure than any tight end has actually ever dealt with. He made history when the Atlanta Falcons took him with the 4th total choice, making him the very first tight end to be chosen in the leading 5 given that the typical age of the draft started in 1967.

Naturally, Pitts is anticipated to play a significant function in the Falcons offense in 2021, and his efficiency as a novice ended up being much more vital recently, when Atlanta traded among the league’s elite receivers in Julio Jones to Tennessee.

That relocation was anticipated, and now it puts a great deal of obligation at the feet of Pitts to be efficient in the death video game. Thankfully for him, he’s got the numbers on his side. According to NFL Network analytics skilled Cynthia Frelund, he’s anticipated to produce the most out of any novice tight end.

Initially, some background details to set the table, through Next Gen Statistics. Last season as the Titans’ offending planner, Falcons head coach Arthur Smith utilized 12 workers (one running back and 2 tight ends) on 32.7 percent of snaps, the second-highest rate in the NFL behind just Philadelphia. The Falcons utilized it on simply 13.9 percent of snaps in 2020 (ninth-lowest rate in the NFL). So, you may anticipate to see Pitts and his fellow Falcons tight end, Hayden Hurst, on the field at the very same time a lot. Context matters a lot here, however, since not just did the existence (and departure) of Julio Jones matter to this forecast, however Pitts does not anticipated to be a standard tight end, which you understand after enjoying all of our draft protection. Pitts lined up broad on over 35 percent of his snaps for Florida last season, and his wingspan is outrageous (83 3/8 inches). So, I determined something brand-new for you in this workout since the effect of such an enormous catch radius is an intriguing thing to check out with him. Pitts caught passes thrown more than four feet away from his body at the highest rate of any pass catcher (including wide receivers) from the past two draft classes in their final collegiate season. Of the pass catchers selected in the first three rounds over the past two drafts, the average catch rate on such passes was 14.8 percent (15.3% for first-rounders only). Pitts’ rate? 23.5 percent! My normal draft predictor model (which doesn’t include the catch radius metric) ranked Pitts as the most likely future All-Pro from the 2021 draft class. I’m glad the brand-new stat backs that projection up even more.

It’s high praise for Pitts, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Even missing several games due to injury in 2020, he was Kyle Trask‘s favorite target and likely would’ve been UF’s leading receiver had he played in every game. Though technically listed as a tight end, Pitts is more of a plug-and-play guy in the receiving game. Line him up outside like a wideout or put him in the traditional “Y tight end” slot, and he’s sure to be productive either way.

Pitts was perhaps the most intriguing player of this past draft class and the Falcons placed a lot of faith in his abilities. Now all that’s left to do is live up to the hype.


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Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.