The 2021 NFL Draft may be in the rearview mirror, but it’s one that will be talked about forever. The Atlanta Falcons finally released a behind-the-scenes video that captured the decision on their first-round pick and much more.
In the video, the Falcons watched the San Francisco 49ers draft North Dakota State QB Trey Lance at No. 3 overall. Atlanta’s general manager Terry Fontenot turned to head coach Arthur Smith while smiling and said, “you called it a month ago.”
Everyone clapped, then the Falcons were on the clock and blatantly passed on a trade called from the Detroit Lions, who were wanting to trade up to the No. 4 overall pick.
“Yeah, we’re gonna pick. It’s the same as what we talked about? OK, yeah, we’re picking,” you can hear Fontenot say on the call.
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Who Were the Lions Eyeing?
Who the Lions were after is a mystery, but it could have been for top offensive tackle Penei Sewell who they ended up drafting at No. 7 overall anyway.
Between the excitement of the 49ers taking Lance and the Falcons passing on a trade offer, just goes to show they had their eye on Florida tight end Kyle Pitts for quite some time.
“We’re very excited about our pick today,” Fontenot said following day 1 of the draft. “We coveted that player for a long time. His skill set, the talent is clear, what he’s going to bring on the field, and also he’s a tremendous young man. Every exposure, every opportunity to talk to him and spend time with him, all the research, he’s got high character. Exactly what we want to build this program on. He brings that on and off the field.”
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Kyle Pitts Checked All the Boxes for the Falcons
At the beginning of “mock draft season,” the Falcons were projected across the board to draft a quarterback.
Then, it became clear the Matt Ryan would be sticking around as their QB1 until at least 2023, after the Falcons reconstructed his contract.
Then, Pitts had his outstanding pro day and we found that the Falcons were “pretty interested” in the Gator product, according to Pitts himself.
Fontenot described the process of why the Falcons were stuck on the tight end over any other player on the board.
“Well, this whole process, the college scouts, even if the boots on the ground – the first evaluation, which was probably Tumbo (Tokunbo Abanikanda) doing the first evaluation – you have the area scout, the national scout, then you get into the directors, then the coaches get involved,” Fontenot said. “We had very high grades on (Pitts) even in the previous years. The entire time, like A to Z, he checked all the boxes. Now we go through the process and we evaluate everyone, compare and contrast. This player was identified a long time ago. Every exposure, every opportunity, he checked all the boxes.”
The Falcons don’t need a quarterback, which is why they were way too happy to see Lance go to the Bay Area. What the Falcons needed was another weapon for Matty Ice, and that’s exactly what they got.