Bair Mail: Kyle Pitts projections, life without Julio Jones, and Hayden Hurst

We address those topics and more in Friday's mailbag

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The Falcons haven't won three games in a row since 2019. They have a chance to get on that type of roll Sunday against Carolina, which would push the Falcons above .500 since the 2017 season.

True freaking story.

That's too long a gap, and the Falcons have a real chance to end it at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Falcons haven't won at their home stadium this season, an issue they'd like to rectify posthaste.

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Excitement around this team is building, even amongst a somewhat jaded fan base turned pessimistic the past few seasons.

That's reflected in the mailbag, where it's clear you all are stoked on Kyle Pitts and the team's young players, even while moving on without former fan favorite Julio Jones.

We talk about all that and more in Friday's Bair Mail. Let's get to it:

Austin Grissom from Eastvale, Calif.

Could you show a comparison down the road comparing Pitts to top five receiver stats for first years. Comparing him to other tight ends aren't realistic…… though how does he compare to Gronkowski?!

Bair: I know we're not "down the road," but I thought the idea of comparing Pitts to receivers and other greats at this stage could be interesting as a starting point we can hit up again down the road.

Kyle Pitts has 31 catches for 471 receiving yards through Week 7. He has nearly met Rob Gronkowski's total for his entire rookie year, where he had 546 yards in his first professional season. He had 1,327 yards and 17(!!) touchdowns as a second-year player, where elite tight ends tend to take off.

In terms of comparing him to receivers over tight ends – Pitts plays a lot from receiver spots – he's behind only Cincinnati's Ja'Marr Chase, who is killing it with 754 yards in seven games.

In terms of an all-time rookie receiver marks, there are a ton of guys who have gone over 1,000 yards. Pitts could certainly do that, though it's virtually impossible for him to catch Justin Jefferson's 1,400 from last year.

I do think Mike Ditka's all-time rookie record for tight ends (1,076 yards) is well within reach. Pitts is on pace for 1,334 yards over a 17-game season, and would still sneak by Ditka over the 14 games the legend played in 1961.

Jerry B from Hinseville, Ga.

I would really like to see the young guys play more at the safety positions. Put them in the fire now so we can see if we need to hit up the draft early or late. The free agent vets we signed ain't it.

Bair: You aren't the only one, Jerry, calling for more of Jaylinn Hawkins and Richie Grant. I would caution against going away Erik Harris and Duron Harmon at the safety. Both guys are savvy veterans who know how to run things on the back end.

There's no doubt Hawkins has earned playing time and he'll continue to get it. In terms of going with an all-young guy safety pairing, we aren't heading toward that. Grant still has work to do at that spot and may well be called back to action in the nickel.

Also, heed Dean Pees words from a Thursday press conference, when he said this is no time to focus on development. It's time to win.

Ava Konsterlie from Willmar, Minn.

Hey! Just wanted to say love reading your articles! But my question is how do you think not having Julio has impacted the Falcons? I am a huge Falcons fan, and it was hard to see him go, but there also a sense of peace when he left because now we don't have to pay him all that money when he hasn't played a full season in two years! I am amazed by what Kyle Pitts is doing! He is gonna be a star for a long time!

Bair: Thanks for the kind words, Ava. Appreciate them, and your question. I don't believe the Falcons are better without Julio Jones in the pattern. He's an all-time great and still a dangerous threat when healthy. Adding that talent to any team makes them better.

While Jones would make them better -- for those living under a rock this summer, the Falcons traded him to Tennessee -- it's tough to say they miss him deeply. The Falcons passing game has functioned well without Jones, especially with Pitts' emergence. Pitts and Jones aren't the same player and in no way would I compare them, and there is no replacing anyone, especially a future Hall-of-Famer. I am saying, however, that the Falcons have threats everywhere in the passing game. That includes Pitts, Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage, Cordarrelle Patterson and crew. Matt Ryan is spreading the ball around to some dynamic skill players in a passing attack that improves most every week.

Jones has been okay with Tennessee, dominant in one game without massive numbers in any others. He has also missed two games with injury.

Even still, would they be better with Julio? Of course. Are they doing well without him? Heck yeah. They'll be able to use extra cap space in future years and the second-round pick received for Jones to improve the team as well, which will continue to even things out in the cost-benefit analysis of that trade.

Grady Jarrett and the Atlanta Falcons are locked in as they prepare for this Sunday's match against the Carolina Panthers. Take a look at the best images in this gallery.

Charlie C from Boulder, Colo.

Scott, with the NFL trade deadline right around the corner, November 2nd, I believe, and do you see terry Fontenot being a seller or buyer?

Bair: I would say seller, Charlie, and I don't think that will change with happens Sunday against Carolina. Greater odds, in my opinion, lie with the Falcons staying out of the trade market altogether.

As I always say, draft assets are solid gold for teams in transition like the Falcons. Especially considering their cap situation, they need talent on the (relatively) cheap, and plenty of it. The NFL Draft is the best and easiest way to amass such talent.

You asked about trading Hayden Hurst in another question, for a draft pick. Never say never there, especially when discussing a talent set for free agency at season's end. I'm on record saying I think Hurst is a real talent and impact player. Dealing Hurst would certainly weaken the offense's position group. That doesn't seem ideal for a team pushing for as many wins as possible. It would be more about the offer when considering a move like this. What would a team be willing to part with for Hurst? This is just me talking here, but I'd hold out for a valuable pick or shake my head and walk away.

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Falcons Final Whistle | A Postgame Podcast

Break down the hottest topics surrounding the Atlanta Falcons and how they can impact the team's success with Atlanta Falcons Insiders Scott Bair, Tori McElhaney and Kris Rhim. Like and subscribe to join us for the lively debate on Falcons Final Whistle.

Welcome to Falcons Final Whistle – an Atlanta Falcons football postgame podcast during the season that shifts gears in the offseason to answer a pressing question about the team's future each week through free agency, the NFL Draft and the offseason program.

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