Terry Fontenot says quiet part out loud: Bijan Robinson vs. Jalen Carter

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The Falcons’ selection of Bijan Robinson has been met with a tsunami of criticism from fans and media pundits alike.

Most of the disapproval stems from Atlanta’s lack of a pass rush, a long-time need for defensive linemen, and still passing on Jalen Carter in favor of a running back, which has widely become a no-no in league circles because of football life and positional value.

Those are fair critiques, but those Falcons/Dawgs fans and media personalities fail to acknowledge a few important aspects of this situation.

The club did address the defensive issues, particularly the pass rush. Terry Fontenot improved the secondary by adding Jessie Bates III and a handful of cornerbacks. Coverage is an important facet of a defense’s pass rush that is often forgotten. But the personnel difference up front is the biggest difference.

Grady Jarrett, Ta’Quon Graham, and Arnold Ebiketie will be joined by Kaden Elliss, Bud Dupree, Lorenzo Carter, David Onyemata, and Calais Campbell. It’s by far the deepest rotation the Falcons have had in quite some time. Despite there not being a premier pass rusher present, Atlanta will use a platoon approach. It should be vastly improved.

However, there’s an even more straightforward rationale for the Bijan Robinson selection over Jalen Carter — the intangibles.

Anyone who has met Robinson raves about the human being, not the player. The Falcons care as much, if not more, about the person as they do the player; character counts in Flowery Branch.

Now, this piece isn’t attempting to tear down Jalen Carter, but instead open the eyes of Falcons/Dawgs fans who are still griping about the selection of Robinson. Carter has consistently been reported to have red flags that do not match Atlanta’s preference.

It’s not to say Jalen Carter won’t go on to have a successful career because I still believe that will happen, but the likelihood Robinson flames out is lower than Carter, especially after these recent reports.

The former Georgia Bulldog couldn’t have landed in a better spot than Philadelphia; in fact, it’s a much better situation for him than Atlanta.

The Eagles have an established culture with a bevy of well respected veterans in his position group to guide him. Moreover, several of his former teammates — Nolan SmithJordan Davis, and Nakobe Dean — will be a positive influence. He won’t have to come in and be the man; Carter can show up on Sundays and ball out. Those things wouldn’t be true in Atlanta.

And Falcons GM Terry Fontenot eluded to all of that speculation in an interview with Rich Eisen:


Fontenot goes on to praise Bijan Robinson — “a better person than player” — while also illuminating the Falcons’ draft process of getting the right culture fit. The goal is to win championships; to do that, you must have championship character. Fontenot emphasizes the unselfish, high-character individuals the Falcons are attracted to. It’s rather apparent Jalen Carter was never a possibility for this club.

Photographer: Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire

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