ESPN names two Falcons as 2023 breakout candidates
In the NFL, teams must always keep an eye on the future. Even a team like the 2022 Philadelphia Eagles could quickly sink into mediocrity within a year or two if they don’t keep building.
The Atlanta Falcons, who have missed the playoffs in five of the last six seasons since their Super Bowl run in 2016, know this all too well. Fortunately for Atlanta, the team has added some promising talent in two straight draft classes.
A recent feature by ESPN listed wide receiver Drake London and tight end Kyle Pitts as breakout candidates for the 2023 season. ESPN’s Eric Moody chose London, highlighting the rookie receiver’s chemistry with quarterback Desmond Ridder:
“London is a huge receiver who can separate from defenders and make contested catches, and he will be one of the Falcons’ most important players in 2023 with Desmond Ridder under center. In his past six games, London averaged 8.6 targets and 76.2 receiving yards, giving us a glimpse of what is to come.“
London ranked 30th among receivers in yards last year and third among rookies. Only Garrett Wilson (Jets) and Chris Olive (Saints) had better rookie seasons, but London posted a better catch percentage than both.
ESPN’s Field Yates nominated Pitts. Despite a down year, he’s in position to be one of the NFL’s top tight ends for the foreseeable future. Yates thinks Pitts is poised for a breakout year in 2023:
“All right, this might be a mayhem pick, but I’m trying to will it into existence. With improved quarterback play, there is simply no way that Pitts’ production can be close to what it was in 2022 (just 356 yards and two TDs). I won’t give up on a player with his raw talent, and I think a massive 2023 is in store.”
Despite missing the last seven games with an MCL injury, Pitts was already having a down year compared to his rookie season. However, it’s very hard to knock the former No. 4 pick in the draft for his drop in production when he had little to no connection with quarterback Marcus Mariota — who rarely threw over 200 passing yards in a game.
If the Falcons can get better play from the quarterback position, Pitts and London could become a formidable duo in Atlanta for years to come.
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