Kyle Pitts became the highest-drafted tight end in NFL history when the Atlanta Falcons selected him with the fourth-overall pick in 2021. Everyone had lofty expectations for the insane talent and, all things considered, he delivered on those expectations as a rookie.
Needless to say, the expectations only grew going into his second season but things did not work out for him. Due to a variety of factors (injury, off-target passes, bad usage, etc.) he had a disappointing sophomore campaign. However, history says that we should have seen it coming and that we should not be worried about his future.
We should not be worried about the Falcons star TE Kyle Pitts
The tight end position has been a historically difficult position for young players. It is a position that requires a lot of versatility and demands you to matchup against players of all sizes. Nothing proves that more than Mike Ditka having the tight end rookie receiving yards record while also being 14th in rookie receiving yards (regardless of position).
Along those same lines, Kyle Pitts, by some, is being called a bust for the Atlanta Falcons despite him coming so close to breaking Mike Ditka's record just over a year ago. Sure, he had a rough season last year but every great player has had a rough season in their career—and most of them don't have legit excuses like Kyle Pitts had.
Anyways, the history of young tight ends proves that Kyle Pitts is on the right track and I am here to back up this claim. Here is a table that shows Kyle Pitts' stats through his first two season compared to other legendary tight ends
Still want to call Kyle Pitts a bust? If so, then you have to call the greatest tight end of all time, Tony Gonzalez, a bust. Also, make sure you throw Travis Kelce into that as well.
Kyle Pitts is going to be great, no question about it. His "sophomore slump" was more of a "out-of-my-control slump." While he had a high share of team targets, most of those targets flew seven yards over his head (sometimes even over seven yards over Arthur Smith's head) or skipped seven yards in front of him—no player in the history of the NFL would have caught most of the passes thrown his way.
Also, when play in an offense like the one Pitts was in last year (an offense that ran the ball at the highest rate), even if you do have a large portion of the team's targets, it still isn't that high of a volume.
And then there is the fact that he had an unfortunate injury on an unfortunate play.
Sports fans are so impatient and the notion around Kyle Pitts proves that. While I don't think it will, it might take another year for him to catch his footing—especially after a significant injury. So, even if he isn't an All-Pro in 2023, you shouldn't write him off; it is a difficult position in a difficult sport.