Falcons Rumors: Many NFL Insiders 'Feel' Kyle Pitts Will Be Drafted with No. 4 Pick

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVApril 12, 2021

GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 28: Kyle PItts #84 of the Florida Gators celebrates scoring a touchdown against the Kentucky Wildcats at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on November 28, 2020 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Courtney Culbreath/Collegiate Images/Getty Images)
Courtney Culbreath/Collegiate Images/Getty Images

Having hired a new head coach and general manager, the Atlanta Falcons appear to be starting over this offseason. But that doesn't mean they're guaranteed to target a quarterback in the top five of the 2021 NFL draft.

NBC Sports' Peter King reported "lots of people around the league feel" the Falcons will take Florida tight end Kyle Pitts with the No. 4 overall pick, though King noted "that could be predraft logical thinking without any real knowledge."

Atlanta is in a somewhat tight spot because the first three picks are likely to be quarterbacks.

Trevor Lawrence has been projected to the Jacksonville Jaguars from the moment they were guaranteed to select first overall. ESPN's Adam Schefter was similarly definitive about Zach Wilson winding up with the New York Jets:

Get Up @GetUpESPN

It appears the Jets have now locked in to a QB at the No. 2 spot in the draft. Is there any question left that it will be Zach Wilson?@AdamSchefter: "I sent him a text yesterday. I said, 'Welcome to New York, Zach, officially.'" pic.twitter.com/jOnJavVlzR

And the San Francisco 49ers will presumably target the position as well after having swapped first-round picks and given up their 2022 and 2023 first-rounders in order to move up to No. 3.

As a result, the Falcons could be stuck in a position where they might have to settle for a quarterback they aren't totally enamored with because he's the best one available. If that is the case, then looking at another position would be sensible.

Matt Ryan is also under contract through 2023, so the franchise doesn't need to kick him out the door right now. His deal also makes it difficult to move on next year. Cutting him or trading him would trigger a $40.5 million dead cap hit while saving $8.1 million, per Spotrac. As a post-June 1 departure, the savings would climb to $23.8 million and the dead money would be spread across 2022 ($24.9 million) and 2023 ($15.6 million).

Going after Pitts would provide immediate help to the passing game while potentially adding a foundational piece of the offense for the future.

Per Stathead, only three tight ends in draft history have gone in the top five. Pitts would deservingly be the fourth if he's off the board that early.

Florida listed him at 6'6" and 246 pounds, and he ran an unofficial 4.44-second 40-yard dash at the school's pro day. Good luck trying to defend him.

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

Kyle Pitts' 40-yard dash clocked in at 4.44u.<br><br>That speed at 6'6" and 246 lbs though 👀 @SECNetwork pic.twitter.com/qjysreMifF

The Gators star caught 43 passes for 770 yards and 12 touchdowns in eight games as a junior. Sometimes it wasn't fair watching him matched up against college defenders.

No prospect is ever guaranteed to be a hit in the NFL. But Pitts is arguably the best pass-catcher in the 2021 draft, and it's hard to see how he at least doesn't become a Pro Bowler at some point in his career.