The Atlanta Falcons drafted Kyle Pitts at the #4 spot in the 2021 NFL Draft. Doing so made him the highest-drafted tight end (TE) in the history of the league. Pitts was the first draft pick made by General Manager, Terry Fontenot, and head coach, Arthur Smith.
The fan reaction was mixed. Those that watched him play his college football at the University of Florida were excited. They were familiar with his athleticism and felt he would be an additional weapon on offense that could make an immediate impact. Others weren’t as excited as they felt the team had more pressing needs than drafting a TE that high. Some wanted Micah Parsons to get help on defense. Others thought the 2021 draft was the opportune time to draft Matt Ryan’s successor.
Pitts’ rookie campaign was impressive in that he gained 1,026 yards. He ended the season with one touchdown. The lack of red zone production was chalked up to several variables including the play calling and schemes and timing between Pitts and Matt Ryan. Fans expected Pitts to find his way in his second season and have better red zone production.
Pitts had doubled his touchdowns in year two, but he had a season-ending injury in week 11. Nick Shook of NFL.com reported that it was a torn MCL. At that time, he had accrued 356 yards. It should be noted that in his second season, Pitts was receiving passes from Marcus Mariota. Matt Ryan had been traded to the Indianapolis Colts in the off-season, so Pitts was working with his second QB in as many years.
Falcons fans have seen flashes of Pitts’ NFL “Unicorn” potential in the two years he’s been with the team. Other TE notables have recognized Pitts’ game too. Two of the best to ever play the position, Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce, talked about Pitts’ on the New Heights podcast which aired in January 2023.
In year three, Falcons fans are hoping Pitts has fully recovered from his injury. The hope extends to the coaching staff using him in ways that best set him up for success in both yardage and red zone production. Even though the Falcons’ QB1 has not yet been confirmed for the 2023 season, Pitts is a significant piece to this offense regardless of who is under center.
His popularity among the fan base has not waned since he got drafted. In a tweet posted by Lids in February 2023, he has the best-selling player jersey in the state.
There’s no doubt that in year three, Falcons fans want it to be the best year yet for Pitts. High expectations come with being the highest-drafted TE in the league. Instead of flashes of the “Unicorn,” fans are eager for Pitts to provide consistent play that helps the Falcons start winning again.