Terry Fontenot, Falcons hope to replicate Rams’ draft success

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Terry Fontenot has done his best work in free agency, but drafting and developing will always be the surest way to have sustained success in this league, and the Falcons general manager hasn’t had as much success in that area.

First-round picks aside, Atlanta’s three drafts since Fontenot took over have been middling at best. His new head coach experienced roaring success in that area with his former team.

The Rams, without a first-round pick, somehow put together the most impactful draft class last year with Raheem Morris as their defensive coordinator, and Fontenot is hoping to replicate some of that success.

“Raheem (and the Rams) showed that with players (they were) able to draft in L.A.,” Falcons GM Terry Fontenot said, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.“They had a lot of success. We have a lot of confidence in our scouting staff. So we’re going to add in those areas, and we’re going to make sure we get the most of those players.”

Los Angeles didn’t even have a first-round pick and found starters throughout the draft. Steve Avila has established himself as the starting center. Byron Young and Kobie Turner were great under Morris.

Young logged 18 quarterback hits, seven sacks, seven tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles. Turner, on the other hand, put up 15 quarterback hits, nine sacks, and eight tackles for loss.

To give you an idea of what the Falcons got from similar players, Zach Harrison logged just three sacks as a rookie, and Arnold Ebiketie put up six sacks in his second season. The hope is Morris can help those guys take the next step, similar to what he did in LA.

“You’ve got depth in all areas of the draft,” Morris said. “I think I learned that last year with the Rams with our ability to find what we found on the line. In our ability to find (Byron Young). We found Kobie Turner and some of those guys who could rush the passer.”

Obviously, the headliner was Puka Nacua, who put up an NFL-record 105 catches for 1,486 yards to go along with six scores.

The Rams started off the 2023 class by selecting offensive guard Steve Avila, who is firmly entrenched as a starter, despite his move to center. Les Snead and Sean McVay are arguably the best GM-head coach duo in the league. The hope is that Raheem Morris and Terry Fontenot are closer to Snead and McVay than Arthur Smith and Fontenot.

Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire

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