Falcons rookie TE Kyle Pitts is putting the work in to be great
The reason athleticism is so highly coveted in the NFL is because it’s a trait that can’t be developed. It’s up to the team to maximize each player’s depreciating physical gifts by teaching them the nuances of the position and making the mental side of the game just as important as the physical side.
Historically, some positions have struggled more than others when making the NFL jump, and tight end is among the most common. Sometimes, talent is just too great to pass on, though. The Atlanta Falcons had other needs when they selected Florida’s Kyle Pitts with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2021 draft, but the tight end’s elite speed (4.44 40-yard dash) and 6-foot-6 frame were too tempting for general manager Terry Fontenot and head coach Arthur Smith to ignore.
With Julio Jones traded to Tennessee, expectations for Pitts in his first season are becoming somewhat out of hand. However, the rookie seems to be taking it all in stride and has made it a priority to master the mental aspects of the game during the offseason. Pitts went to the Tight End University summit a few weeks ago before hitting “Pros Week” down in Austin, Texas.
In a feature by Jori Epstein of USA TODAY Sports, Atlanta’s first-round pick discussed working on the little things to take his game to the next level. Pitts’ agent, David Mulugheta, said the rookie has been picking the brains of defensive backs Quandre Diggs, Jessie Bates and Landon Collins.
“Kyle’s out here speaking to some of the safeties and trying to figure out, ‘Hey, when you’re covering tight ends, how do they make it difficult for you?’” Mulugheta told USA TODAY Sports. “What are they doing to make it difficult for you? I saw Kyle talking to (Seahawks safety) Quandre Diggs and (Bengals safety) Jessie Bates and those guys and (Washington safety) Landon Collins.
Mulugheta also represents Eric Ebron, another former first-round pick who entered the league with enormous expectations back in 2014. The two tight ends struck a bond over Instagram a few years ago. According to Ebron, Pitts must master his own body in order to be successful at the pro level.
“Really trying to get him to understand how explosive he could be really be and how dynamic he could be, because a lot of people in college bank on your natural gifts,” Ebron told USA TODAY Sports.
Pitts will obviously be under the microscope this season, but it’s clear he’s trying to soak up all the information he can to help break the trend of slow starts for tight ends entering the league.