Atlanta Falcons: Grading Terry Fontenot’s first draft as GM

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Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons

Apr 29, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Kyle Pitts (Florida) poses with a jersey after being selected by Atlanta Falcons as the number four overall pick in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft at First Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Round One: KYLE PITTS, TE (UF)

Okay, let’s get the formalities out of the way. “I can’t believe Atlanta Falcons passed on Justin Fields!” “Why didn’t we trade with Denver?” “I’m done with the Falcons!”

Look, I’m not here to say anyone is wrong for their opinion. That’s the beauty of debating what we believe was the right choice for our team.

In this case, though, Terry Fontenot said he wanted the “best player available”, and boy howdy did he get it. Outside of Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson’s draft cards being etched in limestone, the Falcons had a choice of either drafting Matt Ryan’s replacement of either Trey Lance, Justin Fields, or Mac Jones or decide that Ryan’s still elite and try to maximize his final years with the team.

Fontenot went with the latter option, and pretty much everyone is unanimous: Atlanta’s passing attack just got more lethal. Adding Pitts, who’s essentially a wide receiver playing tight end, with the largest wingspan in the last decade (83 5/8″), and it just opens up the middle of the field.

First off, let’s put the real question out there: the Falcons aren’t trading Julio Jones. It honestly baffled me that people thought it was legitimate, even with the salary cap concerns. Fontenot explained it perfectly because, as general manager, he has to at least take the phone call from another team.

However, it doesn’t mean the phone call couldn’t be the team offering something, him saying “declined”, and hanging up.

Now, let’s look at the passing attack with Pitts.

Julio by himself, when on the field, always commands double teams, regardless of how effective they are. That’s just how dominant he is. On the other side, we’ve got Ridley, whose fluidity in his route running sometimes means he is the one needing an extra man in coverage.

Then, looking down the rest of the receiving core, we’ve got Russell Gage (definitely coming into his game), Olamide Zaccheaus (good depth), and Christian Blake (also good depth).

After that, it’s the tight end position. Adding Pitts to the room with Hayden Hurst (another former first-rounder) immediately opens up the Falcons’ attack to more effective utilization of the “12” personnel (1 RB, 2 TE).

In a nutshell here, folks, teams can’t double everyone. Pitts is going to feast in this offense, guaranteed. Fontenot strikes hard and heavy on the Atlanta United “Golden Spike” with his first selection.

GRADE: A

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