Falcons reportedly would’ve drafted Paris Johnson if available

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The Falcons made quite a polarizing pick in last night’s first round when they made Bijan Robinson the highest running back taken since Saquon Barkley went 2nd overall in 2018.

Some are pretty excited about the idea of adding a dynamic running back to an already potent offense, while others aren’t so satisfied, given the positional value and presence of a 1,000+ yard runner in Tyler Allgeier.

Regardless of the side of the fence, it seems the Falcons would’ve gone in a different direction had the draft gone differently. According to Ian Rapoport, courtesy of Sports Illustrated’s Daniel Flick, the club would’ve selected Paris Johnson Jr. if he were available.

The Falcons would’ve netted the top offensive lineman prospect in the draft. Johnson would’ve slotted in next to Jake Matthews and opposite Chris Lindstrom, forming one of the best guard duos in the league. I assume in this hypothetical that the plan would’ve been for the Ohio State product to kick out to tackle once Matthews’ time with the Falcons was over.

On a Bussin’ with the Boys podcast episode featuring Taylor Lewan and Will Compton, Johnson mentioned Atlanta as one of three preferred landing spots, so the fit would’ve been seamless. He is a mauler in the run game that plays with an attitude, featuring impressive size at 6’6, 315 pounds, which doesn’t take away from his movement. Johnson is able to get out in space and make critical blocks in the run game, something that’s necessary for Arthur Smith’s offense. He’ll be a stud in Arizona.

I’m perfectly content with Bijan Robinson, but the Falcons very clearly aren’t negating the trenches. The board just didn’t fall in a way to land Paris Johnson Jr.; I don’t think Terry Fontenot or Arthur Smith is upset about landing an instant impact player in Robinson, and you shouldn’t be either.

Photographer: Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire

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