Falcons’ Dangerous Duo Ranks High Among NFL Pass-Catchers

Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan

Getty Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons.

For the first time in 10 years, Matt Ryan won’t have Julio Jones as one of his top targets. The vetted QB could, however, have a dangerous pass-catching tandem in wide receiver Calvin Ridley and rookie tight end Kyle Pitts.

According to Pro Football Focus’s Top 10 Pass Catching Tandems for 2021, Ridley and Pitts come in at No. 9.

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 Did PFF Rank the Falcons Too Low?

Steven Treash of PFF explains his reasoning for putting the Atlanta Falcons duo in the Top 10 but not in the Top 5:

Had the Falcons not traded away Julio Jones, they would have placed a duo far higher on this list. Still, they earn a spot inside the top 10 with refined route-runner Calvin Ridley and rookie unicorn Kyle Pitts. Ridley finally pieced it all together and showcased his talent on a consistent basis in 2020. His production skyrocketed across the board: From 2019 to 2020, he improved his PFF grade by 10 points to 84.9 and took his yards per route run total from 1.69 to 2.44 (seventh-best). He hauled in the third-most receptions against single coverage in which he had at least a couple of steps of separation (19) and led the league in total 15-plus-yard receptions (40).

And yes, Pitts has obviously not played a down in the NFL, but his tools and background make it hard to believe he won’t live up to his lofty expectations. The 6-foot-6, 240-pound tight end has a massive catch radius and the movement skills of a wide receiver. Pitts shattered the PFF College record for best single-season receiving grade by a tight end in his age-20 season last year (96.1).

It’s understandable as to why Pitts and Ridley fall at No. 9 since anyone has yet to see what Pitts can actually do in the NFL. But with a 2020 season finish of 43 catches, 770 yards, and 12 touchdowns in eight games for Pitts and a 1,000-yard 2020 campaign for Ridley, it’s easy to argue that the Falcons new duo should be higher on the list.

PFF Ranks Kyle Pitts Among Top 5 Tight Ends

PFF is also already ranking Pitts among the top 5 tight ends ahead of next season. In their rankings, Pitts lands at No. 4 with Kansas City Chiefs‘ Travis Kelce still at No. 1, San Francisco 49ers‘ George Kittle at No. 2, and Las Vegas Raiders‘ Darren Waller at No. 3.

This doesn’t come as a surprise after an impressive 2020 season with the Gators and with his speed at 6-foot-6 and 245 pounds, he’s bound to be a mismatch nightmare.

On June 17th, Pitts will attend the inaugural Tight End University summit.

Kittle started the idea and was joined by Kelce and Carolina Panthers’ Greg Olsen. So from June 23-25 in Nashville, some of the leagues’ most elite tight ends will come together and share techniques and ideas with each other.



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