According to CBS Sports’ NFL writer and analyst Chris Towers, the Florida star will be close to breaking each and every rookie tight end record.
In his recent article on bold predictions, Towers has Pitts nearly surpassing Keith Jackson in catches, Jeremy Shockey in yards, and Rob Gronkowski in touchdowns. Below is his prediction breakdown for Pitts next season:
Here’s what those records look like, for the record: 81 catches (Keith Jackson in 1988), 894 yards (Jeremy Shockey in 2002), and 10 touchdowns (Rob Gronkowski in 2010). Here’s how I have Pitts projected: 68 catches, 847 yards, six touchdowns. But I’ll admit, I had to kind of force myself to be more conservative with that projection than I initially wanted to be — because I initially had him breaking both the receptions and yardage records. Most rookie tight ends struggle to make an impact, it’s true, but most college tight ends don’t do what Pitts just did at UF — 43 catches, 770 yards, and 12 touchdowns in eight games. He’s different, and landing in Atlanta, potentially as the Julio Jones replacement in the offense is a pretty excellent opportunity, one most rookie tight ends don’t get. I could see him struggling, but I think it’s more likely Pitts breaks into the top tier at tight end than that he finishes outside of the top 12.
Of course, if the Falcons don’t trade Jones, that could limit the number of opportunities for Pitts. But it’s also worth noting that Jones was banged up all last season and his health heading into next season remains a big question mark. Therefore, Pitts could luck out at the No. 1 option with or without Jones.
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Pitts Is Already Considered Top 5 TE Ahead of Week 1
Towers and Pro Football Focus are on the same page with how much belief they have in the future NFL star.
PFF is already ranking Kyle Pitts among the top 5 tight ends heading into Week 1. 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 the Gator product’s outstanding 2020 season. With his speed at 6-foot-6 and 245 pounds, he’s bound to be a mismatch nightmare. His biggest fan and former college coach, Dan Mullen, considers him a “unicorn.”
“He’s kind of like a unicorn, and the only way you can defend a unicorn is with another unicorn,” the Gators’ head coach told Sports Illustrated during media Pro Day. “So if you don’t have a unicorn on defense, you got a problem.”
Pitts finished his final season as a unanimous first-team all America and top-10 Heisman Trophy candidate.
Pitts Will Attend Tight End University
When the Falcons’ minicamp ends on June 17th, Pitts will attend the inaugural Tight End University summit.
49ers’ star George Kittle started the idea and was joined by Travis Kelce and 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.
Joining Pitts in Nashville will be Falcons’ veteran tight end, Hayden Hurst.
“I think it’s a great idea,” Hurst told AtlantaFalcons.com. “You’re getting some of the top tight ends together in Nashville at the end of this month, and it’s going to be awesome. You’ll get on the field with those guys and pick their brains about how to break down coverages. It’s going to be a great opportunity.”