The Buccaneers will have their hands full with Kyle Pitts, who can be a top-5 tight end in 2021.
In recent years, it has become easy to rule rookie tight ends out. Even the best two in the league right now, George Kittle and Travis Kelce, were only able to post 515 and 862 receiving yards in their first seasons as starters. Wide receivers have a much easier job adjusting to the NFL and finish the season above 1,000 yards far more often, but Kyle Pitts has a chance to change this narrative.
Despite the notorious difficulty surrounding the tight end position in year one, Pitts has the chance to be the best rookie tight end of all time, and all of the cards have aligned to make this a very attainable goal.
Pitts will probably take some time to become a dominant complete player as far as blocking is concerned, but his talents as a receiver are unquestionable.
With the heart of a receiver, the speed of a receiver, the athleticism of a receiver, and the body of a tight end, Pitts is a cheat code. Pitts’ physical traits have drawn plenty of comparisons to O.J. Howard of the Buccaneers, but there is one substantial difference between these two.
Ever since high school, Howard has been a “projection player.”
“If he can just put it all together, O.J. Howard could be one of the best NFL tight ends ever.”
Unfortunately, Howard hasn’t ever been able to stay healthy or consistent long enough to reach his full potential. On the other hand, Pitts has already proven that he can use his athletic talents to his advantage.
Kyle Pitts played 24 games in college, with 21 happening in the past two years. By comparison, Howard played in 46 games at Alabama. Despite the disparity, Pitts had 18 touchdowns during his time in school (12 in eight games in 2020), and Howard only had seven throughout his whole career. Pitts had 97 receptions over the past few seasons, Howard had 114 over his college career.
O.J. Howard is likely on the verge of a breakout season alongside Tom Brady and is still worth keeping on the roster, but there is no fair comparison between him Pitts other than athletic ability. The newest Falcons tight end has already proven that he can dominate any game.
Pitts has the size and production, and he also joins one of the best systems in the NFL to feature a young pass-catcher. Matt Ryan has strung together 10-straight seasons throwing for over 4,000 yards, Julio Jones is on a new team, and the Falcons will be a pass-first team in 2021.
With no other big names on the pass-catching roster other than WR1 Calvin Ridley, Pitts should be Ryan’s second target from day one, and there is no way to believe this won’t lead to massive levels of production.
Pitts can line up on the line of scrimmage or out wide with no drop-off in talent, and the Falcons can do whatever they want to get him as many touches as possible.
From a purely statistical standpoint, Mike Ditka had the best rookie season for a tight end ever with 1,076 receiving yards on 56 receptions, and while it may seem blasphemous, Pitts has the talent to be the only tight end in history to join Ditka in this exclusive club, perhaps even challenging for that number in an extremely advantageous system.
The Buccaneers will have their hands very full with Kyle Pitts, who could easily finish just behind Kelce, Kittle, and Darren Waller on the production standard.
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