Kyle Pitts sees Desmond Ridder, A.J. Terrell as tremendous leaders for the Falcons

Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /

Whether it be Kyle Pitts, Desmond Ridder, A.J. Terrell or whomever, the Atlanta Falcons are brimming with great leaders, and even better guys, as core pieces of their rising football team.

Look for Kyle Pitts and the rest of the Atlanta Falcons to do extraordinary things on and off the field in 2023 and beyond.

The former No. 4 overall pick out of Florida and 2021 rookie sensation tight end is coming off a challenging, yet rewarding second season with the Dirty Birds. He may not have had the personal success that he wanted to, but Pitts is a smart guy; he sees the bigger picture. Whether that be on the field or in the community, Pitts is full of energy, excitement and enthusiasm about everything.

After doing some great work in the Atlanta community with the Salvation Army Bellwood Boys and Girls Club on behalf of Gatorade’s Equity in Sports partnership, I caught up with Pitts to discuss the big year ahead for all of us.

The one big takeaway I had from my conversation with Pitts besides pure positivity was how confident he was in the young leaders on this team, especially second-year quarterback Desmond Ridder and fifth-year star cornerback A.J. Terrell.

I had a feeling everybody had long bought into Ridder, but Pitts’ confidence is all I needed to hear.

"“Definitely. Like you said, a great. He’s a team leader. He’s grabbed this team by the reins and he’s pulling everybody together. Everybody’s just following him because, you know, he’s the core of the team as the quarterback. So to have a leader like that and have somebody, you know, who we can believe in and he’s confident. So that’s all we need to see.”"

You have to remember that many of these young Falcons stars saw what Ridder did at Cincinnati playing for Luke Fickell. He quarterbacked a Group of Five team to the College Football Playoff!

And while Pitts shares representation with Terrell, his praise of his teammate is definitely genuine.

Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Pitts sees Desmond Ridder, A.J. Terrell as emerging leaders

While Ridder is every bit the vocal leader, Terrell would rather let his play do the talking for him. Pitts falls somewhere in between, which I think is fantastic. The Falcons have all sorts of great players from different backgrounds, but the three commonalities are team, work ethic and high character.. Pitts is entering year three, but he knows how big of an opportunity this is for Terrell.

With this being his fifth season out of Clemson, expect for Terrell to become an NFL superstar.

"“I mean, it’s A.J. (Terrell)’s fifth year, so he’s in that vet role … A.J.’s not really a speaker. He’s more of a shower, I guess you would say. So he shows by example. So just seeing people work, you know, and follow behind him and his work ethic. That’s something we all like to emulate.”"

Like, who really cares if Terrell is soft-spoken? Pitts and I and everyone have seen him play. The dude can absolutely ball! The fact he is doing this for his hometown team makes it even sweeter.

And let it not be overlooked that, yes, Pitts is in fact a leader, too. He carries a lot of pressure with him after being one of the greatest tight ends I have ever seen at college at Florida, as well as the first pick of the Arthur Smith/Terry Fontenot regime in Flowery Branch. If he stays healthy and continues to develop his rapport with Ridder, no kidding, the sky is the limit for this mega talent.

Of course, when you are that talented and so very humble, you gotta show the kids how it is done.

Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons
Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons. (Anna Marie Taylor) /

As I finished my conversation with Pitts, two things were very clear about his attitude and expectations for this season. One, everything is coming together in The ATL. The energy surrounding this up-and-coming team is simply undeniable. To be frank, this is the most optimistic myself and a lot of Dirty Bird Nation have felt about a Falcons team since the 2017 NFL season.

The other strong impression that I got is Pitts and his teammates really love playing for Coach Smith. He may be brash and he may have a combative, yet playful relationship with the local media (which I love, by the way), but you can tell guys will do anything for him. You want proof? Just look at how hard the offensive line plays for him, as he once was a big ugly himself at UNC.

Read this quote about how Pitts feels about this year’s team and don’t tell me they can’t win 10 or 11 games in be in a fantastic position to make the NFC playoffs. The Falcons can win their division.

"“I mean, there are plenty of words I could say, but we’re all coming together. All of us feel it’s going to be a good time. Coach (Arthur) Smith does a great job of, you know, mixing and matching, putting everybody around. Put it in his hands and let everything work.”"

I may be a tad premature on this, but it is really cool when you see this happen. Of course, the Falcons are going to have to play a full 60 minutes 17 times this fall, but the cohesiveness and togetherness this team has is certainly something. It is a perfect blend of up-and-coming stars, as well as savvy veterans, internally and those having joined their ranks via free agency or a trade.

Whether it be Bijan Robinson coming in as a first-round pick, Jessie Bates III coming over in his high-profile free agency or Jeff Okudah coming over via trade with the Detroit Lions, Pitts is just as awestruck as I was in this: “I can’t believe he’s now on this team, too!” We didn’t have to talk about him so much because some things are just more important than that. This is why Pitts will win big.

Ultimately, this is the type of player and person you want to have in your building. We are talking about a hall-of-fame-level talent at tight end, but maybe even a better person. The best part is he doesn’t have to do this alone. He has tremendous teammates with high character, whether that be Ridder, Terrell, Robinson, Grady Jarrett, Chris Lindstrom or future hall-of-famer Calais Campbell.

Look for Pitts, Ridder and Terrell to lead in the most authentic ways possible for this Falcons team.

Kyle Pitts spoke with FanSided on behalf of Gatorade, Laureus and the Salvation Army Bellwood Boys and Girls Club.

Gatorade partnered with Kyle Pitts to surprise members of Salvation Army Bellwood Boys and Girls Club at a youth football camp as part of Gatorade’s commitment to make an impact in local communities, further the goal of driving equity in sports and unlock opportunities for every kid to play sports. Gatorade believes that everyone should have the opportunity to benefit from access to sports. 

Through Gatorade’s Equity in Sports partnership with Pitts and Laureus, the Salvation Army Bellwood Boys and Girls Club received a $25,000 Gatorade Equity in Sports community grant. 

Next. Bijan Robinson hypes up Falcons’ defense big time. dark