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Former TE Kyle Pitts shares lessons learned from QB Matt Ryan.


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Falcons TE Kyle Pitts Shares Biggest Lessons Learned From Traded QB Matt Ryan

Pitts only spent one season with Ryan but took several lessons from his time with the former MVP.

DANIEL FLICK

 

When the Atlanta Falcons selected Florida tight end Kyle Pitts at no. 4 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, they expected immediate results. Pitts delivered in a huge way, posting over 1,000 receiving yards, the second-most among rookie tight ends in NFL history.

While all rookies go through growing pains, Pitts had the luxury of playing with an experienced, intelligent and accurate quarterback in Matt Ryan. The two clearly formed a relationship quickly, as evidenced by Pitts' historic rookie season. 

According to Pitts, Ryan was an invaluable presence throughout his transition into the NFL.

"I appreciated Matt for my first year, and him introducing me to the NFL, starting my career off like that," Pitts said on The Rich Eisen Show. "On the field, just different ways to try and take care of your body, mentally lock in, how he prepared in his younger years, and places where he messed up where he's telling me not to mess up."

The on-field performance advice paid instant dividends, as Pitts was one of just six rookies nominated for the Pro Bowl. However, he took just as much from Ryan on how to act away from the gridiron. 

Pitts stated that Ryan showed him, "how to handle adversity with your family, your girlfriend, spending money; just all of those things."

Pitts learned several lessons from Ryan that translated to his impressive opening act, but the biggest lesson the 21-year-old pulled centered around living in the moment.

"The best piece of advice he gave me is to live where your feet are. Take every day where it is. Don't think in the past, don't think in the future, live where your feet are. Everything that you do, ace it in your way. Just try and do it to your best ability, whether it's in this building or out of the building."

Pitts is highly thought of inside the Falcons building, with head coach Arthur Smith and Ryan, among many others, often praising the 21-year-old throughout the season. With Ryan's veteran leadership in Pitts' ear all year long, he was able to persevere the ups and downs of his first NFL season.

Despite spending just one season with the since-traded Ryan, the quarterback's impact on Pitts will last for the rest of his career. However, Pitts has learned that thinking about the remainder of his career isn't the best approach. Instead, he does just as Ryan guided him to do: live where his feet are.

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Having QB Matt Ryan under center for the Colts is a "gift from the football Gods" - considering what the Colts have had to work with the past several seasons.

 

Knowing that "uplifting" and "coaching up" his teammates is a part of his QB DNA is a bonus.

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When looking at the Pitts/Ryan combo of last season, I'd caution folks a bit when trying to translate things to the Colts, but especially with their expectations with 2022 "TE".

 

Pitts is more or less a WR/TE hybrid. He converted from WR in college. He's basically a super tall X WR. He's used all over the field like a WR (look at his Nextgen chart). He's used deep (#3 in deep targets and #2 in air yards) like a WR. And he's not asked to block a bunch (#4 in routes run and 80+% route participation).

 

Pitt will be a stud for many years given his flexibility and traits. But he does have some room to improve. His separation and juke rate weren't great, and he was #1 in drops.

 

I do hope we use our TEs like him though in 2022. Mo was hugely productive when given 2nd and 3rd level routes in games like MN. Mo, Woods, Granson, and Ogletree should all benefit. Also, Ryan has always been productive throwing to the seam, while Frank's O, regardless of QB, has never been really big on seam targets. I hope we see all of the TEs running simple and deep slants across the seam this year. 

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