Space Coast Grads Pitts and Henderson Experiencing Contrasting Emotions in the NFL
By Space Coast Daily // November 4, 2021
It’s fair to say that the NFC South is one of the more difficult divisions to ascend from in the NFL these days. Leading the way are the defending Super Bowl champions Tampa Bay Buccaneers, led so impressively by the evergreen Tom Brady.
Then you have the New Orleans Saints, featuring Space Coast grad C.J. Gardner-Johnson, who are quietly fancied to go deep into the playoffs.
All things considered, it’s a tough ask for the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons to make any progress from this section of the NFL, which is bad news for ambitious Florida alumnus Kyle Pitts and C.J. Henderson. So unlikely are these two teams’ chances of winning the Super Bowl, they can now be backed at +12500 and +25000 respectively in the NFL betting odds.
At the time of writing, the Falcons’ .429 record leaves them outside of the playoff places, and while there’s still time to rectify that, you won’t find many NFL betting tips columns that offer Atlanta much hope of making it to the post-season. That would be a huge shame for Pitts, a big man that has made giant strides so far this season.
For Henderson, the 2021-22 season so far has been one of transition. After making his name in the much-vaunted Florida Gators at college level, the now 23-year-old was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars – they handed the cornerback a four-year deal worth a handsome $20.5 million guaranteed.
Life as a professional footballer could not have got off to a better start, as Henderson was named Rookie of the Week in the 2020-21 season opener against the Indianapolis Colts following a dominant display.
However, it was largely downhill from there, with the ninth pick of the NFL Draft picking up a groin injury that would largely curtail his campaign.
Why the Panthers felt comfortable taking a chance on C.J. Henderson, the Bears’ scheme for Justin Fields, Bill Belichick’s comments on Tom Brady and more in @AlbertBreer‘s MAQB https://t.co/YlJSYN90Qv
— The MMQB (@theMMQB) September 27, 2021
This season, it’s all change for Henderson after he was drafted to the Panthers, and he is yet to cement his status as a regular starter despite his new employer’s 4-4 record – although he has achieved that rarest of feats of intercepting a pass from none other than Brady.
Coming of Age
As for Pitts, his rookie campaign could barely have gotten off to a better start. When you win the John Mackey Award and become the highest-drafted tight end in NFL Draft history, it’s fair to say that a weighty dose of pressure is heaped upon your shoulders.
For Gators alumni Pitts, however, the transition from college student to NFL professional is one that the 21-year-old has made with consummate ease.
Starting seven games for the Falcons so far, he has made 33 receptions with a total yardage of 484, and after crossing the line for his first NFL touchdown in the International Series game against the New York Jets in London, Pitts then delivered an outstanding 163 receiving yards against the Miami Dolphins – a franchise record for a tight end.
That’s back-to-back 100-yard games for @kylepitts__.
That’s why he was a top-5 pick.
— NFL (@NFL) October 26, 2021
If this progression continues, Pitts could well be in line for Rookie of the Year nominations – that would do very nicely for a player seemingly unburdened by that huge $32.9 million paycheck.
Pitts is playing superbly well in a Falcons side that is otherwise struggling.