The Atlanta Falcons have one more sleep until the 2021 NFL Draft and who they are going to take at No. 4 overall is still a giant question mark.
But ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler and Dan Graziano may have gotten to the bottom of the mystery. According to these two NFL insiders, the Falcons are locked into the No. 4 slot and taking another weapon for Matt Ryan to use in Florida tight end, Kyle Pitts:
Speaking of the Falcons, we have been told that team owner Arthur Blank was pushing, early in the process, for the team to draft a quarterback, on the premise that teams don’t often get to pick this high in a draft with so many good quarterback prospects. But new coach Arthur Smith and new general manager Terry Fontenot would prefer to try to build a winning team in the short term around Matt Ryan, and Blank ultimately decided he wouldn’t overrule the two guys he just hired to make these decisions for him.
So while obviously things could change if San Francisco pulls a surprise at No. 3 or if someone offers the Falcons a major haul to move up to No. 4, Atlanta is expected to stay put and take Pitts, whom some would tell you is the best player in the entire draft. With former first-round wide receiver Calvin Ridley in place, drafting Pitts could pave the way for a Julio Jones trade, though such a deal likely would have to wait until after June 1 for salary-cap reasons.
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It makes sense for the Falcons to add another passing corpse for Matt Ryan to throw to if he’s going to be around until at least 2023. The Falcons could then turn to the second round for a backup QB who would still have a shot at being a future starter, as this year’s class of top signal-callers runs deep.
Pitts dominated during an unusual 2020 season, catching 43 passes for 770 yards and 12 touchdowns in just eight games.
Pitts is an X-Factor
While a quarterback like Justin Fields or Trey Lance could eventually replace Matt Ryan, that will take quite some time.
The difference with taking Pitts is that he will be able to jump right into the offense and be the “impact player” the Falcons said they are looking for.
Pitts is not just the best tight end in this class, but “the best receiver at any position,” according to Pro Football Focus (PFF),
“He is the best pure tight end in this class, but if he had never played inline at all and was coming into the draft as a 6-foot-5, 245-pound ‘X receiver,’ he would be the best wide receiver available in a historically great class,” PFF’s Sam Monson said. “He would be seen as Calvin Johnson 2.0,” a reference to the Detroit Lions Hall of Famer, who was selected No. 2 overall in the 2007 Draft.
If the Falcons do decide to skip out on a QB at No. 4 overall, a trade back might be the way to go to get more draft capital. However, if they decide to stay in fear they’ll miss out on Pitts, it’s not a bad idea considering they still have eight more draft picks left after round one.
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