It’s that time of year when NFL Network reveals their top 100 players heading ahead of the 2022 season.
And on Sunday night, the league announced only the players who cracked the top 100-51 and two Atlanta Falcons 2021 standouts landed within the list: tight end Kyle Pitts at No. 91 and running back/ wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson at No. 73
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Patterson Finally Cracks Top-100 After Nine Seasons
The Falcons signed Patterson to a one-year, $3 million deal last offseason.
The fan-favorite was initially drafted by the Minnesota Vikings with the No. 29 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Since parting ways with the Vikings in 2016, he has played for the Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots and Chicago Bears.
In nine seasons, the only other team Patterson has spent more than one season with are the Bears, and he was hoping that Atlanta could change that.
“I’ve been around five teams, eight offensive coordinators; being here, I feel like I’m at home. Why not just finish my career here?” Patterson said, via the team’s official website at the end of the 2021 season. “I’m comfortable with all the guys in the locker room, the coaches, you know, and everybody so why not finish my career here?
“I still got 10 years left in me. Ten years, plus. I’mma be here ’till they kick me out.”
After almost a decade in the league, the Falcons were the first team to figure out how to use Patterson to his best abilities in their offensive system. And by doing so, Patterson recorded a career-high of 607 rushing yards, 547 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns last fall.
His outstanding season gained the attention of the Pro Football Writers of America, as PFWA named Patterson their “Most Improved Player of the Year” 2021 award, alongside cornerback Trevon Diggs of the Dallas Cowboys.
The Falcons also went on to make Patterson’s dreams come true and signed him to a two-year deal worth $10.5 million ($5 million guaranteed) back in March.
Pitts Enters Year 2 With Notable Confidence
Adjusting to the NFL level is normally anything but easy for rookies however, Pitts made the transition look a lot smoother than most first-year players, exclusively tight ends. He finished his rookie campaign with 68 catches for 1,026 yards (15.1 average) one touchdown and 15.1 yards.
He was also named to the Pro Bowl and broke the Falcons’ franchise record for receiving yards by both a rookie tight end (Tony Gonzalez) and rookie receiver (Julio Jones).
After a successful first year, he now enters his second season with a better grasp on the NFL entirely and the Falcons’ offensive system, which has given him time to focus on the other side of the ball.
“It has slowed down. Just a tick. Just a little bit,” Pitts told Scott Bair of AtlantaFalcons.com. “It was slower than it was last year because I’m more confident knowing the game. I’m seeing defenses and I’m trying to break them down. That said, I’m still studying my game to try and play faster.”
With a lot more confidence under his belt and being Marcus Marciota’s No. 1 option, you can expect even bigger things from Pitts in 2022.