Falcons fill needs with early draft picks and a free agent signee

ATLANTA — The first three rounds are complete and the Atlanta Falcons have not shied away from new General Manager Terry Fontenot’s proclamation the team would take the “best available” player.

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If you haven’t been following, the Falcons started things off Thursday night by drafting Florida Gators TE Kyle Pitts with the fourth pick. The 6-6, 240 lb pass catcher was widely considered the best “non-quarterback” in this years draft.

Pitts, who will wear #8 for the Dirty Birds, could potentially line up almost anywhere in new head coach Arthur Smith’s offense and will team up with Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and fellow TE Hayden Hurst to form one of the NFL’s most dangerous receiving corps.

Experts from ESPN, the NFL Network and others were near universal in their praise for the choice. Fans who wanted a QB, not so much. It means the Falcons will likely stick it out with 35-year old Matt Ryan at QB for at least another season and possibly two before his contract expires in 2023.

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Friday night was another exercise in value for the Falcons who started off the night by swapping second round slots with the Denver Broncos. The Broncos got the Falcons pick at #35, with Atlanta moving down to #40 and gaining an extra fourth round draft pick.

With the 40th pick in this years draft, the Falcons bolstered the defense by taking UCF safety Richie Grant. Grant fills a need as the team breaks in a brand new group of players at the position.

With the 40th pick in the #NFLDraft, we have selected S Richie Grant. Welcome to Atlanta, Richie! 📝 - https://atlfal.co.nz/2uYRhVd

Posted by Atlanta Falcons on Friday, April 30, 2021

In the third round, it was back to offense as Atlanta took Michigan tackle Jalen Mayfield with the 68th pick. Mayfield, who’s only 20-years old is projected to slot in as a possible left guard for the Falcons, a position they are looking to fill this offseason.

The Falcons will have six picks on the final day of the draft.

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The other noteworthy move Friday for the Falcons was the signing of a new backup QB. Free agent A.J. McCarron was signed to backup Ryan in 2020.

McCarron was a backup the past two seasons with the Texans and has played for several other NFL teams since being drafted in 2014 out of Alabama.

McCarron’s signing gives the Falcons two QB’s on the roster heading into training camp. The possibility the team hasn’t ruled out the possibility of drafting a developmental prospect in this years draft.