We are officially just nine days away from the 2021 NFL draft and while we are sure that quarterbacks will be taken at numbers one through three, what the Atlanta Falcons do with their No. 4 overall pick is still a mystery.
There are various ways the Falcons will go and all eyes will be on new head coach Arthur Smith and general manager Terry Fontenot and their final decision.
Of course, Atlanta Falcons owner of 20 years, Arthur Blank, has the official final say, right?
According to Peter King’s Football Morning in America, Blank won’t be stepping on their toes.
“Owner Arthur Blank is fascinated by the quarterbacks atop the draft, thinking the franchise might not be in such an advantageous position to take one for years. But Blank will not force a decision — of that I am sure. He hired G.M. Terry Fontenot and coach Arthur Smith and won’t big-foot them on their first big call.”
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What the Falcons Might do With the No. 4 Pick
With three QBs likely getting drafted in the first three slots, the Falcons could be the first team to pick outside the quarterback position.
Atlanta is stuck with Matt Ryan until at least 2023, so drafting a quarterback might not be the best move. If it’s not, they could trade out or follow Fontenot’s “best player available” game plan.
King believes the best non-quarterback and value option is Kyle Pitts.
“Smith likes the quarterbacks too, but also likes Matt Ryan, who will play at 36 this fall and likely has four or five solid years left. Fontenot may—and I emphasized may, because I’ve heard varying things here—prefer to trade out of the pick for a ransom, if one is there. But Smith and Fontenot are also value shoppers too. The value here is to take the best non-quarterback in the draft, tight end Kyle Pitts.”
Smith attended Pitts’ Pro Day last month where the Florida product wowed the audience by running a 4.44 40-yard dash.
And at the conclusion of his workout, he revealed that the Falcons seem “pretty interested” in him and have reportedly had “multiple” Zoom meetings and spoke to him again to plan to “talk on Zoom in the future.”
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The Falcons Won’t Reach for Needs
The Falcons have a lot of needs, but according to Fontenot, that doesn’t matter when it comes to the draft process.
“In the draft, you’re going to take the best player,” Fontenot said via AtlantaFalcons.com. “You can’t be afraid to continue [to add] at every position. There’s not a position that you’re going to say, ‘Oh, we’re good there, we’re not going to draft there this year.’ That’s just what I believe. … We’re never going to be afraid to take a player at any position and build strength.”
In prior years under ex-Falcons coach and GM Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff, Atlanta addressed their needs over the best available on the board.
“You never want to reach for needs,” Fontenot said. “I think it’s cool listening to Ozzie Newsome tell stories about where there were certain players on the board, in certain areas, and they took the best player available, and he ends up taking Hall of Fame players as opposed to reaching for a need.”
Before coming to Atlanta, Fontenot spent 18 seasons with New Orleans Saints. He worked his way all the way from being an intern to an assistant general manager.
Since taking on a pro personnel role, Fontenot has played a major role in landing some elite talent which boosted New Orleans defense over the years, including linebacker Demario Davis, linebacker Kwon Alexander and defensive ends Cameron Jordan and Trey Hendrickson, and safety Malcolm Jenkins.
The 2021 NFL draft will mark the first time Fontenot is running things as general manager and Smith as a head coach, but seem to be looking at every possibility out there extremely carefully before coming to a final conclusion.