Terry Fontenot has been abundantly clear about his approach to NFL drafts. On multiple occasions, the first-time general manager has stated the strategy going forward will always be to take the best player available (BPA).
It became a reality in his first draft last April when he made Kyle Pitts the highest-drafted tight end in NFL history. He was easily the best non-quarterback prospect in the 2021 class, and the Falcons stuck to their word of selecting the best player available with the fourth overall pick.
Fontenot reiterated that strategy in his end-of-season press conference, stating that when teams reach for specific needs, mistakes happen. Falcons fans can absolutely expect Atlanta to take the highest-rated prospect on their big board whenever they’re on the clock.
With needs littered across the roster, the Falcons could use an upgrade at most positions. However, it’s impossible to deny that edge rushers, cornerbacks, and offensive tackles have more positional value than nose tackles, running backs, and receivers. Still, I don’t see Fontenot reaching for an edge rusher over a receiver because of the team’s needs, or because of positional value.
So is it possible that the Falcons would draft a wideout despite glaring needs along the offensive and defensive lines? Scott Bair, the digital managing editor of the Falcons, believes it’s possible the Falcons take a receiver with the 8th overall pick.
Mailbag Question: Is there any possibility that the falcons take a WR with the no.8 pick or will they go with an edge rusher?
Bair: They absolutely could. If they’re going with the best player on their draft board with, in my opinion, weighted toward premium positions. That includes edge rusher, offensive tackle, cornerback and, as you point out, Emery, receiver.
There are a few mock drafts out there suggesting they take Treylon Burks from Arkansas. We’ll know more about receiver as a standard need or something more pressing before we get to the NFL Draft. Calvin Ridley’s status would have to be secured by then, either with him remaining on the team or being moved via trade. We’ll also know if Russell Gage has been re-signed. If both of those guys come back, then receiver at No. 8 seems like overkill. A pick in rounds after that, however, is a good idea either way.
Obviously, Bair isn’t reporting anything official, and clearly states that he thinks the Falcons could take a receiver with their first pick in April’s draft. And I agree with him; if Fontenot stays true to his word, he’ll absolutely take a receiver in the first round if the war room’s big board lines up that way. If they have Treylon Burks, Drake London, Jameson Williams, or any other prospects graded as the highest player left on the board when it’s their time to pick, Falcons fans can expect this to come to fruition. Fontenot has made clear his intent to use this BPA draft approach and is serious about sticking to it, so the reality is that every position is a possibility at every draft slot.