Terry Fontenot insists you don’t know who the Falcons are going to pick No. 8

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The NFL Draft is now less than two weeks away, and everyone has pegged the Falcons to take one of the best pass rushers remaining on the board when they come on the clock. It’s the team’s biggest weakness by a long mile, and it’s been that way for over a decade. The problem with that theory is it’s lazy.

“Oh, the Falcons need a pass rusher. Let’s mock them the one we think is the best.” — Every single “draft expert.”

Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot does not draft for need. I’m not sure what else he has to do to prove to the rest of the world that he’s serious about the way he approaches the draft, but perhaps this year will do it, even if it should already be well know by now.

In his first draft, Fontenot made Kyle Pitts the highest drafted tight end in NFL history. The following year, he took the first receiver off the board in Drake London, and last year, he drafted Bijan Robinson over defense when the Falcons already had a rookie 1,000-yard rusher on the team. More particularly, Jalen Carter, who was arguably the best defensive prospect in the draft.

Now, you can argue whether these selections were the correct ones. There are valid points to be made about each one of these picks, particularly Bijan Robinson and Kyle Pitts. But what you cannot argue is that Terry Fontenot is going to take the highest graded prospect on his big board, regardless of position.

The Falcons general manager reiterated that message two weeks ahead of the draft.

“When you look at the history of drafts, you can look at a lot of times like, ‘Okay, we really need a pressure player, so make sure you get that,'” Fontenot said, via Daniel Flick of Sports Illustrated. “But we can look back at drafts where someone reached on a pressure player and left some really good football players on the board at other positions.”

Terry Fontenot is more aware than anyone of the needs of this football team. He knows the Falcons have to add as pass rusher, but there very well may not be a pass rusher worth taking with the 8th overall pick. If that’s the case, perhaps a trade back is in the cards, or maybe they fall in love with another skill position player like Malik Nabers or Rome Odunze.

Using Fontenot’s own words, the Falcons are “wide open” 11 days out from the NFL Draft.

“It’s a strong draft,” Fontenot said. “We’re going to be staring at some really good players at eight, or whether we’re up a little bit or whether we’re back a little bit, and that’s the excitement. We’re wide open. And I love that about Raheem and the staff – we’re completely wide open.

Photographer: Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire

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