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Falcons ‘aligned’ for NFL draft: 5 players on their radar screen


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https://www.ajc.com/sports/atlanta-falcons/falcons-aligned-for-draft-5-players-on-their-radar-screen/X77ZIQH7A5A7LFICESMG2PQTWE/

Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot and coach Arthur Smith’s first draft together in their collaborative relationship is approaching.

 

The NFL draft is set to be held April 29 through May 1, and a report that the two sides are split was disputed. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that Fontenot is more focused on a quarterback, while Smith is fine with Matt Ryan.

 

While Fontenot was not available to comment on the matter, it was made clear that Fontenot and Smith are “aligned.”

 

The Falcons hold the fourth pick in the draft and will look to pivot the franchise from a 4-12 season to being competitive again.

With Jacksonville, the New York Jets and San Francisco set to take quarterbacks with the first three picks, the Falcons will have a chance to draft the most talented position player in the draft.

 

 

That could be either Florida tight end Kyle Pitts or Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell. Or, the Falcons could take a quarterback, or they could trade out of the spots and amass picks for the rebuilding of one of the league’s shakiest defenses.

Here are five players on the team’s draft radar screen:

1. Penei Sewell, LT, Oregon: The Falcons could face a tough call between Sewell and Pitts.

 
 

“If it’s me in the chair, I’m looking at the chance to get a five-year guy that I can put a contract on, possibly six years if I franchise the guy, versus a tight end that I’m going to have to have a quarterback to get him the ball,” one long-time NFL executive told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He’ll work as a blocker, but he’s not really going to help in the run game.”

The Falcons could start Sewell inside at left guard if he can’t beat out Jake Matthews. But Pitts is enticing.

“He’ll make some plays, the tight end,” the executive said. “He’ll be effective maybe 15 plays out of 65. The left tackle has got to be there 65 out of 65. When you really look it, it’s hard to (take the tight end) if the left tackle is legit. If he’s just a position guy, you can get that later.”

But what if Pitts goes on to be the next Travis Kelce?

“The tight end can play,” the executive said. “He’s going to be that guy. He’s going to make plays wherever he goes. Passing up on certain guys are hard.”

2. Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida: Pitts finished his career at Florida with 100 catches for 1,492 yards (14.9 average) and 18 touchdowns. He became Florida’s all-time leader for receiving yards by a tight end and ranked second in career receptions at the position.

Some compare Pitts with former Georgia Tech and North Cobb High standout Darren Waller, who’s blossomed with the Raiders over the past two seasons.

Pitts has a longer wingspan – 83-3/8 inches -- than any wide receiver or tight end in the NFL over the past 20 years.

“With my wingspan, that gives me an advantage versus people (defensive backs) that maybe have shorter arms,” Pitts said.

While Pitts’ skills as a receiver are elite, his blocking will need some work.

“I would say my weaknesses is hand placement in the run game,” Pitts said.

3. Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State: He played in 12 games in 2018 as a freshman at Georgia behind Jake Fromm and was named to the SEC All-Freshman team.

Fields was granted a waiver from the NCAA that allowed him to play immediately for Ohio State. In 2019, he ranked third in the country in touchdown passes, with 41. He threw only three interceptions.

Some scouts have latched on to Fields’ poor showing against Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship game when he completed 12 of 27 passes (44.4%) for 114 yards and two interceptions.

Ohio State’s recent quarterbacks haven’t fared well in the NFL, and Dwayne Haskins was released by Washington in only his second season in the league. He signed with Pittsburgh.

“I’m not sure,” Fields said when asked about the negative perception of Ohio State quarterbacks. “I don’t know those guys personally. I don’t know their work ethic. I don’t know what they were taught.

“I know Dwayne got taught a little bit similar to what coach (Ryan) Day was teaching. In all honesty, I think I’m different from those guys. I know my work ethic is unmatched.”

4. Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU: After the scintillating performance in which Chase caught nine passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns in the College Football Playoff Championship game against Clemson, he opted out of the 2020 season to concentrate on his professional career.

Chase, who’s 6-foot-1 and 208 pounds, dazzled the NFL scouts at his Pro Day workout before a crowd that included Fontenot, offensive coordinator Dave Ragone and wide receivers coach David Brock.

Chase allegedly ran the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds, but the times coming out of LSU have been suspect. He had a 41-inch vertical and 11-foot broad jump which points to the explosiveness of his lower body.

The sure-handed receiver played as a freshman and caught 23 passes for 313 yards and three touchdowns in 2018. The following season, he combined with quarterback Joe Burrow to help lead the Tigers to the national title.

He caught 84 passes for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns, which included that stellar title-game showing.

5. Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama: Surtain, who’s 6-foot-2 and 202 pounds, is widely considered the top cornerback in the draft.

His father, Patrick Surtain, played 11 seasons in the NFL from 1998 to 2008. He was drafted in the second round by the Miami Dolphins and went on to make All-Pro once and was selected to three Pro Bowls.

Surtain believes he’s ready for the NFL after going against former Alabama wide receivers Henry Ruggs, Jerry Jeudy, Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith over the past two seasons in practice.

“Going against those guys in practice helped me (to get) better as a player, going against them, competing against them,” Surtain said. “Every week you are confident going into the game because you are not going to face many receivers like them.”

Surtain left Alabama after his junior season. He made 38 consecutive starts and was a unanimous first-team All-American. He allowed 25 yards receiving or fewer in 10 of 13 games last season.

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https://www.ajc.com/sports/atlanta-falcons/falcons-aligned-for-draft-5-players-on-their-radar-screen/X77ZIQH7A5A7LFICESMG2PQTWE/ Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot and coach Arthur Smi

Love Sewell but should not be a candidate at 4.  If we want an OG, trade down and take Slater who is a more natural fit.

I think Lance is also seriously on the Falcons radar as well.

This is interesting... if we draft for NEEDs we need Surtain.. If we draft for the Future Fields should be the option.. for me the safest player is Chase... But the celling of Penei or Pitts are just huge to ignore... I really think the player they will choose will be between Fields and Pitts...

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3 minutes ago, Fernando C. said:

This is interesting... if we draft for NEEDs we need Surtain.. If we draft for the Future Fields should be the option.. for me the safest player is Chase... But the celling of Penei or Pitts are just huge to ignore... I really think the player they will choose will be between Fields and Pitts...

Kinda interesting to see Chase on there imo...good to see they really seem to be approaching the draft by the BPA mentality.  

I feel like BPA at 4, out of those players, is either Pitts or Chase...but it's subjective. 

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7 minutes ago, ya_boi_j said:

If they were to stay there and choose Chase, get ready to kiss Julio goodbye next year. Chase would surpass Ridley within 3 years

Well, I was just going down to say,, NO WAY on earth will we draft a WR.. They must think we're crazy.

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32 minutes ago, PriMeTiiMe said:

Love Sewell but should not be a candidate at 4. 

If we want an OG, trade down and take Slater who is a more natural fit.

I think Slater is going to be a great guard in the NFL.. and agree he can probably be had further down than 4.   As much as I love some of the prospects like Sewell and some of the other players, I feel like we really need to trade down and get a few more draft picks.  

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1 minute ago, FalconFanSince1969 said:

So you're back to fields now? I thought it was lance?

Nope,, I don't think we'll go With a QB , ,but if we did.. I'd say we'd take Fields.. I hope that would be the pick.. But I'd much rather take A top DE or two. 

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Just now, pa_falcon_fan said:

I think Slater is going to be a great guard in the NFL.. and agree he can probably be had further down than 4.   As much as I love some of the prospects like Sewell and some of the other players, I feel like we really need to trade down and get a few more draft picks.  

I think Vera-Tucker and Wyatt Davis will be better OG's than Slater.  

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11 minutes ago, ya_boi_j said:

If they were to stay there and choose Chase, get ready to kiss Julio goodbye next year. Chase would surpass Ridley within 3 years

A lot of people would gripe, but imagine Ridley and Chase on the outside for the next 5 years. Locking that up and not have that be something that needs to be addressed for awhile might not be everyone's favorite pick, but allows the FO to focus on other things. Plus there's the cap implications of having JJ off the books and Chase on a rookie deal. Not excited about no more JJ but gotta do whats best to make the team consistently competitive.

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2 minutes ago, Herr Doktor said:

Let's get this done!!!

I'm working on it !!   :mmmhmm:  I think we'll trade down and take advantage of this draft.. Cherry pick and move to where ever we have to go to take the best of the bunch in every round.. I have a very good feeling that Smith and Fount will Nail this thang !! I know good and well,, He's going to be remembered with how well he did in his first Draft with Atlanta.  I like that pressure being on him .. It should make him take the right players knowing how important this first draft in Atlanta is. 

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3 minutes ago, Pacific_Falcon said:

A lot of people would gripe, but imagine Ridley and Chase on the outside for the next 5 years. Locking that up and not have that be something that needs to be addressed for awhile might not be everyone's favorite pick, but allows the FO to focus on other things. Plus there's the cap implications of having JJ off the books and Chase on a rookie deal. Not excited about no more JJ but gotta do whats best to make the team consistently competitive.

Hey, no need to gripe. There would be no drop off at all IF the talent follows him to the NFL. I would love it. Maybe he can teach Ridley how not to run sideways when there's an open lane

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10 minutes ago, Mister pudding said:

Trading him after June 1st would free up $15 million (and $7 million in dead money) and probably net us a 2022 1st round pick

Not sure about a first rounder for a 33 year old WR, especially if he's injured again this season. Crazier trades have happened though

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1 hour ago, athell said:

https://www.ajc.com/sports/atlanta-falcons/falcons-aligned-for-draft-5-players-on-their-radar-screen/X77ZIQH7A5A7LFICESMG2PQTWE/

Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot and coach Arthur Smith’s first draft together in their collaborative relationship is approaching.

 

The NFL draft is set to be held April 29 through May 1, and a report that the two sides are split was disputed. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that Fontenot is more focused on a quarterback, while Smith is fine with Matt Ryan.

 

While Fontenot was not available to comment on the matter, it was made clear that Fontenot and Smith are “aligned.”

 

The Falcons hold the fourth pick in the draft and will look to pivot the franchise from a 4-12 season to being competitive again.

With Jacksonville, the New York Jets and San Francisco set to take quarterbacks with the first three picks, the Falcons will have a chance to draft the most talented position player in the draft.

 

 

That could be either Florida tight end Kyle Pitts or Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell. Or, the Falcons could take a quarterback, or they could trade out of the spots and amass picks for the rebuilding of one of the league’s shakiest defenses.

Here are five players on the team’s draft radar screen:

1. Penei Sewell, LT, Oregon: The Falcons could face a tough call between Sewell and Pitts.

 
 

“If it’s me in the chair, I’m looking at the chance to get a five-year guy that I can put a contract on, possibly six years if I franchise the guy, versus a tight end that I’m going to have to have a quarterback to get him the ball,” one long-time NFL executive told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He’ll work as a blocker, but he’s not really going to help in the run game.”

The Falcons could start Sewell inside at left guard if he can’t beat out Jake Matthews. But Pitts is enticing.

“He’ll make some plays, the tight end,” the executive said. “He’ll be effective maybe 15 plays out of 65. The left tackle has got to be there 65 out of 65. When you really look it, it’s hard to (take the tight end) if the left tackle is legit. If he’s just a position guy, you can get that later.”

But what if Pitts goes on to be the next Travis Kelce?

“The tight end can play,” the executive said. “He’s going to be that guy. He’s going to make plays wherever he goes. Passing up on certain guys are hard.”

2. Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida: Pitts finished his career at Florida with 100 catches for 1,492 yards (14.9 average) and 18 touchdowns. He became Florida’s all-time leader for receiving yards by a tight end and ranked second in career receptions at the position.

Some compare Pitts with former Georgia Tech and North Cobb High standout Darren Waller, who’s blossomed with the Raiders over the past two seasons.

Pitts has a longer wingspan – 83-3/8 inches -- than any wide receiver or tight end in the NFL over the past 20 years.

“With my wingspan, that gives me an advantage versus people (defensive backs) that maybe have shorter arms,” Pitts said.

While Pitts’ skills as a receiver are elite, his blocking will need some work.

“I would say my weaknesses is hand placement in the run game,” Pitts said.

3. Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State: He played in 12 games in 2018 as a freshman at Georgia behind Jake Fromm and was named to the SEC All-Freshman team.

Fields was granted a waiver from the NCAA that allowed him to play immediately for Ohio State. In 2019, he ranked third in the country in touchdown passes, with 41. He threw only three interceptions.

Some scouts have latched on to Fields’ poor showing against Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship game when he completed 12 of 27 passes (44.4%) for 114 yards and two interceptions.

Ohio State’s recent quarterbacks haven’t fared well in the NFL, and Dwayne Haskins was released by Washington in only his second season in the league. He signed with Pittsburgh.

“I’m not sure,” Fields said when asked about the negative perception of Ohio State quarterbacks. “I don’t know those guys personally. I don’t know their work ethic. I don’t know what they were taught.

“I know Dwayne got taught a little bit similar to what coach (Ryan) Day was teaching. In all honesty, I think I’m different from those guys. I know my work ethic is unmatched.”

4. Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU: After the scintillating performance in which Chase caught nine passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns in the College Football Playoff Championship game against Clemson, he opted out of the 2020 season to concentrate on his professional career.

Chase, who’s 6-foot-1 and 208 pounds, dazzled the NFL scouts at his Pro Day workout before a crowd that included Fontenot, offensive coordinator Dave Ragone and wide receivers coach David Brock.

Chase allegedly ran the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds, but the times coming out of LSU have been suspect. He had a 41-inch vertical and 11-foot broad jump which points to the explosiveness of his lower body.

The sure-handed receiver played as a freshman and caught 23 passes for 313 yards and three touchdowns in 2018. The following season, he combined with quarterback Joe Burrow to help lead the Tigers to the national title.

He caught 84 passes for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns, which included that stellar title-game showing.

5. Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama: Surtain, who’s 6-foot-2 and 202 pounds, is widely considered the top cornerback in the draft.

His father, Patrick Surtain, played 11 seasons in the NFL from 1998 to 2008. He was drafted in the second round by the Miami Dolphins and went on to make All-Pro once and was selected to three Pro Bowls.

Surtain believes he’s ready for the NFL after going against former Alabama wide receivers Henry Ruggs, Jerry Jeudy, Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith over the past two seasons in practice.

“Going against those guys in practice helped me (to get) better as a player, going against them, competing against them,” Surtain said. “Every week you are confident going into the game because you are not going to face many receivers like them.”

Surtain left Alabama after his junior season. He made 38 consecutive starts and was a unanimous first-team All-American. He allowed 25 yards receiving or fewer in 10 of 13 games last season.

To me this says trade down at least five slots, grab one of these guys, plus a few picks. Just please go BPA with every pick in every round. Regardless of need. Stack for the future. Extend Grady and get a couple vets to fill gaping holes.

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