Kyle Pitts, Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley would create an SEC nightmare in Atlanta
The Atlanta Falcons could create a scarier nightmare than the one on Elm Street if they use the No. 7 overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft to select Kyle Pitts. A pairing of the University of Florida tight end with former University of Alabama standout receivers Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley would conjure up the sort of nightmares that would make Freddy Krueger look like a childhood bedtime story.
One, two, the SEC’s coming for you.
The quarterback craze in this year’s draft lays it out perfectly for the Falcons to add another transcendent playmaker to an offense that clearly underachieved last season. Tight ends rarely make an impact at the professional level in their rookie year, but Pitts is the sort of unicorn that could turn that statement on its head.
You want to match him up with a defensive back? Good luck finding someone physically gifted enough to win a jump-ball contest against the 6-foot-6, 245-pound giant. You want to try a linebacker? Okay, let’s see if you can find one with the speed and athleticism to keep up with one of the greatest science projects we’ve seen at the tight end position in years.
The Falcons could certainly reach for one of the five quarterbacks expected to be taken in the first round of the draft, but it would make little sense to pass on a generational talent like Pitts when the window is still open to win now. They still have Matt Ryan under contract, even though he’s beginning to sour on some like last month’s milk. That need for change is strong for a team that hasn’t had a winning record in the last three seasons.
But Dan Quinn is out as head coach, and Drew Brees is finally riding off into the sunset and leaving the New Orleans Saints to begin their rebuild with Taysom Hill at quarterback. Yes, the real-life Benjamin Button, Tom Brady, is still throwing golden footballs with his 43-year-old arm in Tampa Bay, but the end has to come at some point—right?
Jones, 32, isn’t getting any younger, and the wear and tear on his body is becoming more apparent. He was banged up for most of the 2020 season and turned in only 51 receptions for 771 yards and three touchdowns—a pedestrian year for a future Hall of Famer. Ridley is already taking off as the new No. 1 option at receiver for the Falcons.
Pitts would fit right in as another potential elite option to aid Ridley and take even more pressure off Jones. Oh, and let’s not forget about Hayden Hurst. The SEC roots run even deeper with the former South Carolina Gamecock coming off a career year.
Pairing him with Pitts could give the Falcons one of the best tight end tandems in football.
Granted, the Falcons still have to hope legendary defensive coordinator Dean Pees can MacGyver the broken defense back into working order, and they’ll also have to address the ugly running back situation at some point in the draft.
But in a league where guys like Darren Waller, Travis Kelce and George Kittle are dominating, the Falcons have a real shot at adding a foundational piece that changes the way people view their offense. Pitts, Jones and Ridley—it could be one of the most explosive offenses in franchise history.
That dirty bird the world assumed was roadkill could suddenly start flying again.