Kyle Pitts has already proved himself as a generational tight end, but that isn’t stopping the Atlanta Falcons from looking for more playmakers at the position. Pitts set a litany of records as a rookie in 2021, but he’s set to be a marked man in his second year as the lone threat in a threadbare Falcons passing game.
Finding a marquee wide receiver in this year’s NFL draft class seems like the obvious solution to the problem. Yet, the Falcons could go a different route by adding another dynamic, move-style tight end.
The Falcons are hosting just such a prospect this week, according to an NFL Network Insider. This tight end, who has been compared to a star at the position for the Miami Dolphins, developed into a roving catch machine at UCLA. He put up numbers that prove he could ease the burden on Pitts, as well as mask the Falcons’ paucity of quality wideouts.
ALL the latest Falcons news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Falcons newsletter here!
Falcons Host Top-30 Visit With Prolific TE
UCLA’s Greg Dulcich has a top-30 visit scheduled with the Falcons, beginning on Monday, April 11, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport:
On the surface, hosting prominent tight ends from this year’s rookie crop looks like a luxury the Falcons can’t afford. Not when a player with Pitts’ skills tops the depth chart.
The player taken fourth overall in the 2021 NFL draft more than lived up to the hype. Pitts hauled in 68 receptions for 1,026 yards, good enough for a Pro-Bowl nod and some franchise records.
Those all-time accolades included breaking the Falcons’ single-season mark for yards by a tight end, set by Tony Gonzalez in 2012. Pitts also surpassed the rookie record Julio Jones set for the Falcons in 2011.
That’s enough production not to need another tight end, but there’s still plenty in Dulcich’s game to recommend him to the Falcons. First, there’s his move skills, detailed by Football Outsiders: “He lined up in the slot, flexed or at H-Back frequently for Chip Kelly’s Bruins.”
The same source derided Dulcich’s ability as a blocker, but compared him favorably to a productive tight end from the AFC East: “His blocking won’t impress blood-‘n’-guts Bill Parcells types, but he could be a Mike Gesicki type who either serves as the default #1 target in a weaker offense or a ‘win more’ playmaker as the fourth or fifth option in a strong one.”
A comparison with Mike Gesicki should excite Falcons fans. Gesicki caught 73 passes for 780 yards in 2021, numbers Dulcich could match in a similarly roving role.
Putting Dulcich in the slot while Pitts splits out wide would be a nightmare for defenses and give the Falcons more one-on-one matchups in coverage. This play, highlighted by NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger, shows how effective Dulcich is from the slot:
Adding this kind of mismatch to the offense would offset some of the Falcons weaknesses on the outside.
TE-Heavy Offense Best Remedy for Mediocre WRs
Nobody is going to be scared by the wide receivers the Falcons are set to put onto the field this season. A position group filled with low-cost free agents like Auden Tate and Damiere Byrd lacks elite-level talent.
One way around the problem would be to stockpile gifted tight ends like Pitts and Dulcich. Together, they would surely produce enough catches and yardage to keep coverage honest.
Production wasn’t a problem for Dulcich at UCLA. He finished his collegiate career in style, making 42 grabs for 725 yards and five touchdowns, during his final season with the Bruins.
His overall numbers are some of the best among power five tight ends, according to PFF Draft:
Like 6’6″, 247-pounder Gesicki, 6’3″, 245-pounder Dulcich is a safe pair of hands who can attack defenses at multiple levels. Falcons’ head coach Arthur Smith knows the value of a player with those attributes.
Smith built an offense around tight ends Jonnu Smith and Delanie Walker during two seasons as a coordinator for the Tennessee Titans. Marcus Mariota was Smith’s starting quarterback for a brief time in Tennesse, and now he’s tasked with replacing Matt Ryan under center in Atlanta.
Mariota’s task would be easier with a double act as dynamic as Pitts and Dulcic. The latter should still be available when the Falcons use either one of their two second-, or even third-round picks.