The Falcons will once again approach the 2023 NFL Draft with a best player available strategy. Going back to the team’s first draft, Terry Fontenot made history by selecting Kyle Pitts, who was arguably the most talented player in the draft. The Florida product became the highest-drafted tight end ever, and the Falcons received some flack for not prioritizing more premium positions like quarterback, offensive line, and edge — Justin Fields, Penei Sewell, and Micah Parsons.
Despite the pushback, the Falcons didn’t alter course in their second draft when they made Drake London the highest-drafted receiver in the class. With more needs than just wideout, some expected the Falcons to select a potential Matt Ryan successor or an offensive lineman to bolster one of the worst units the previous season, but they went with the highest graded player on their draft board — a strategy they plan to use again in a few months.
Instead of trying to fill needs through the draft, the most successful organizations select the highest-rated prospect, regardless of the position. It seems simple to just add good players, but it’s not, and it makes it even more difficult when the front office puts positional restraints on themselves. The BPA method was made mainstream by Ozzie Newsome, who led Baltimore’s front office for years, building one of the most consistent winners in football.
Fontenot has spoken a number of times on the BPA strategy and will again ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft. BPA has a proven track record and drafting for needs is how teams make mistakes. Desperate and impatient franchises will reach for a particular player at a position of need; sometimes, it works out, and other times, it doesn’t.
The Falcons have famously stated they are willing to add to a position of strength, but there aren’t many of those on Atlanta’s roster. It’s devoid of top end talent and depth at most units. You can’t name one group on the roster that doesn’t need bolstering. Even the most solid position groups, like running backs, could use fresh legs.
Tyler Allgeier and Cordarrelle Patterson are a helluva combination, and Caleb Huntley looked like the real deal before going down with an injury. However, Patterson is only under contract for one more season and is on the wrong side of 30 years old. Huntley also suffered a serious injury and shouldn’t be expected to return. On top of all that, there might not be a shorter NFL life than a running back. I am the president of the ‘Never pay a running back’ club. On my fictitious NFL team, we draft a running back every year and continue that process without giving them lucrative second contracts.
The BPA strategy shouldn’t even be argued because drafting for need is impossible for a team with a roster as talentless as Atlanta’s. All three levels of the defense, the offensive line, skill positions, and quarterback need addressing. It’s not going to fix itself via the 2023 NFL Draft. BPA has been and always will be the most practical approach to building a sustainable winner.
Photographer: Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire