The Falcons bucked history and some conventional wisdom by selecting Kyle Pitts, the explosive tight end from the University of Florida, with the No. 4 overall pick. The recent history of first-round tight end investments will have NFL teams, fans and Fantasy managers a bit nervous. These are the TEs selected in the first round of the most recent 10 draft classes: Tyler Eifert (2013), Eric Ebron (2014), O.J. Howard (2017), Evan Engram (2017), David Njoku (2017), Hayden Hurst (2018), T.J. Hockenson (2019), Noah Fant (2019) -- not exactly a murderer's row of Fantasy production.
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Having said that, Pitts has a skill set that is entirely different from literally every player on that list and also one that translates to immediate success in today's NFL. If you used that same argument to suggest not using a first-round pick on a QB who plays in a weak defensive conference (say the Big 12) at a school that hasn't produced any big-time QBs (say Texas Tech) -- well then you would've ruled out Patrick Mahomes. An important rule I learned early on was to evaluate the player and not the helmet.
We're breaking down everything you need to know about Pitts from a Fantasy manager perspective, including his 2021 impact, Dynasty outlook, measurables, scouting report, key stats and an NFL comparison.
2021 Fantasy Impact
How much should you care about the history of rookie tight ends? Here's the full list of tight ends to have more than 700 receiving yards as a rookie since 1990: Jeremy Shockey and Evan Engram. That's it. No Rob Gronkowski. No Travis Kelce. Of the tight ends drafted inside of the top 10 of the NFL Draft, none of them have done it either.
"But Kyle Pitts is different," you'll say. And he is different. Incredible college production, nearly unmatched physical tools. He's a special, special player. But ... is that that much different than Vernon Davis? He was picked No. 6 overall after putting together one of the best combine performances of all time, arguably even more impressive Pitts' pro day, and he had just 265 yards and three touchdowns in 10 games as a rookie. Point is, it's hard to hit the ground running as a rookie at this position.
That being said ... Kyle Pitts is different. Or at least, he could be. And landing with the Falcons could give him a better opportunity to hit the ground running. Yes, he'll be behind Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley in the receiving hierarchy, but he shouldn't be any lower than third, and this may still be a team that throws the ball 600-plus times. Which means he could get to 100 targets as a rookie. And those targets should be very productive with Jones and Ridley hogging attention.
I don't want to get out over my skis ... it's hard not to! He ranks seventh in my first run of projections as a member of the Falcons, and I could see moving him ahead of someone like Dallas Goedert if Zach Ertz doesn't get traded. I don't want to push Pitts too far up my draft board -- I probably wouldn't draft him in the first six rounds -- but he's one of the few tight ends who can be a difference maker.
Even as a rookie. - Chris Towers
The Dynasty community is well aware of Pitts' potential to break the TE mold. He is currently coming off the board as a mid-first-round pick in rookie Dynasty drafts. I'm likely to be a bit higher on Pitts than the community as a whole and I have him as my No. 4 player overall among rookies. The best way to view Pitts is almost as a "unicorn" type prospect at the TE position, and that makes him even more valuable in Dynasty. Now, I know you've heard that before in the football scouting and Fantasy community -- it has rarely translated into Fantasy production. However, Pitts is a bit of a different unicorn for the position. He possesses a wide range of translatable receiver skills and not just timed 40 speed like an Evan Engram type.
- Route running
- Toughness, concentration at the catch point
- Natural, sure hands
- Elite-level body control in the air (think DeAndre Hopkins)
- Excellent ability to high-point slightly off-target throws
- Fluidity, natural athleticism
- Loose hips allow him to get in and out of breaks like a WR
- Creates separation vs. CBs in man coverage using creative releases
- Straight-line speed -- he's not a burner
- He's a willing blocker, but he has a long way to go in his development as an in-line blocker
|2020 v top 25||3||14||235||3||16.8|
|2019 v top 25||3||15||182||0||12.1|
Advanced stats to know
- Best YPC (17.9) of all college TEs ever with 40+ receptions, per Rich Hribar of Sharp Football Analysis
- 27.9% TD rate -- second-best among all college TEs ever (with 40+ receptions), per Hribar
- 4.91 yards per route run vs. man coverage in 2020 -- third-best of any player, nearly 2 yards per route run more than any other TE, per PFF
There is no perfect comparison for Pitts, but the closest to me would be Raiders TE Darren Waller. However, I see a little bit of former Giants, Steelers and Jets WR Plaxico Burress in Pitts' game too. If he can evolve into anything like either player -- or better yet a hybrid mix -- he'll be an excellent option for Fantasy managers.