When I add Excel tables to a project, AGP doesn't recognize the first line as fields like ArcMap. Instead it gives me default names and treats the field names as first row. How do I fix this? I'd rather not lose flexibility so importing the tables into a gdb would be rather suboptimal.
The ArcMap and Pro Excel readers do appear different. I had an issue with opening an .xls file containing precip data, which had always worked fine in AM. In Pro, it insisted on reading all the precip values as text. I had to go to a CSV file to get it to read correctly.
Another route that I have found that works is using ArcCatalog. If I import this excel data as a table into a file geodatabase I am then able to generate a feature class (within ArcCatalog) that can be used in ArcGIS Pro. ArcCatalog also lets me define the data type on fields, as I also had issues with coordinates being read as text even when the Excel file had it as numeric data.
Here is the documentation that outlines the limitations for using Excel spreadsheets in ArcGIS Pro
https://pro.arcgis.com/en/pro-app/help/data/excel/work-with-excel-in-arcgis-pro.htm. You can use the Table to Excel conversion tool in ArcCatalog or ArcMap to export the sheet to a new Excel .xls file to use in ArcGIS Pro if you need to keep the data in Excel format.