Kyle Pitts ready for first action at Falcons rookie minicamp

Falcons prized rookie tight end Kyle Pitts is set to take the fields in Flowery Branch for the first time Friday.

Pitts, who was selected fourth overall in the NFL draft, will lead a class of 39 rookies and qualifying veterans in the team’s rookie minicamp, which runs through Sunday.

Howard coach Larry Scott was Pitts’ position coach at Florida for two seasons in 2018 and 2019. Scott recruited Pitts for Tennessee, but went to Florida in 2018 with coach Dan Mullen’s staff and finished up the signing of new tight end.

“I got to know him through recruiting him at Tennessee,” Scott said. “I was very excited about him already being committed and signed to Florida when I got there.”

Pitts was delightful to work with for Scott, who coached at South Florida, Miami, Tennessee and Florida before landing the Howard spot. He also served as Miami’s interim head coach in 2015.

“You want those guys that you bring on to have a great tool belt and can be very versatile in ways that they can be used in both the run and pass game,” Scott said. “In the screen game and in all of it. Kind of what (Mullen) alluded to, he’s a Unicorn.”

The Falcons are looking forward to working with Pitts.

“We’re extremely excited about what he can bring to this team,” passing-game specialist T.J. Yates said. “Bring to this passing offense, bring to this offense in general. Creating mismatches on the outside. He’s got so much size and so much speed, his catching radius is huge. He’s got great hands.”

The only issue about Pitts is that he’s only 20 years old.

“He’s going to play his first NFL game before the age of 21,” said Scott, who attended the draft in Cleveland with Pitts. “He’ll still be 20. Everything is still all ahead of him. He hasn’t even begun to even scratch the surface of how good he’s going to be as he grows physically into truly becoming a man.”

The Falcons are going to try to get Pitts ready to play as soon as possible.

“He’s a very young player,” Yates said. “He’s going to have a lot of things to learn. A lot of places to grow, but just from a skill-set standpoint he allows offensive coaches to be able to create and do a lot of different things. We’re excited to get him in here and start working with him this weekend.”

Scott encourages the Falcons to get creative with Pitts.

“You can’t put him into a box,” Scott said. “Because at the end of the day, he can do a little bit of it all. When try to do that, you are actually taking away from his skill-set and placing limitations on a guy that’s really, really talented and can be used in numerous ways to take advantage of matchups and those type of things.”

Scott also offered some insight into how Pitts approaches the game.

“The thing that always stands out about him the most besides his talent and the way that it comes through, it’s just quiet competitiveness,” Scott said. “He’s one of the highest competitors that I’ve ever been around.”

Pitts is not a real flashy type of guy.

“He is more of a I’ll show you type of guy,” Scott said. “Instead of being vocal and talking about it, he lets his play and his approach and mindset do a lot of the talking for him.”

Yates also is looking forward to seeing quarterback Feleipe Franks, who was signed as an undrafted rookie.

“He’s got the size, arm strength and all of the intangibles that you’d want from a guy coming out of college,” Yates said.

Franks was one of the 20 undrafted players signed by the team. There will be five tryout players plus five qualifying veterans.

Falcons inside linebackers coach Frank Bush is looking forward to working with Mississippi State’s Erroll Thompson and Louisville’s Dorian Etheridge.

“Both kids are athletic,” Bush said. “Both kids are tough. One of my pet peeves is finding a guy that has something to prove or has that chip on their shoulder. I think they both have that because they both were disappointed in the whole draft process, and they know they bring a certain skill set.”

No one is going to make the team from rookie minicamp.

“Ultimately, you want those guys to come and learn what we are doing and try to compete,” Bush said. “Give them every opportunity to show who they really are. I’m excited about both of those kids.”

Scott and several other head coaches at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) were stunned that no players were drafted this year from the schools.

The Falcons did sign offensive tackle Kion Smith, who played at Fayetteville State of the CIAA. Smith is 6-foot-6 and 315 pounds and played in the Hula Bowl and Tropical Bowl. He participated in the Pro Day at N.C. State and ran the 40-yard dash in 5.33 seconds and lifted 225 pounds 15 times.

Scott joined Jackson State’s coach Deion Sanders, a former Falcon, decrying the league not drafting players like Smith from HBCUs in 2021.

“Definitely, that is something that has to change,” Scott said.

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