Much has been made about the Falcons draft, particularly the club’s decision to take Bijan Robinson with the 8th overall pick.
Here is what the typical media pundit outside of Atlanta would say: “The Falcons took a luxury pick with no defense, particularly the pass rush. Atlanta has had a terrible defense for years but continues to bolster the offensive skill group. Bijan Robinson is a hell of a prospect, but how big of an impact can a running back really have? This is how bad teams stay bad. Grade: F”
Well, those talking heads don’t play the game. Football ain’t played on paper, folks. Arthur Smith’s edge as a play designer is often forgotten.
Moreover, they are just conveniently leaving out free agency. Atlanta went out and added impact players at all three levels of the defense.
Jessie Bates III was the gem of the free agent class and will solidify the backend of the defense. Kaden Elliss will slot in next to Troy Andersen and provide a pass rushing presence on third downs. David Onyemata and Calais Campbell join Grady Jarrett along the interior.
That’s not even mentioning the less notable additions the Falcons made — Jeff Okudah, Mike Hughes, Eddie Goldman, Lorenzo Carter, Bud Dupree, etc.
So, yes, the Bijan Robinson selection doesn’t make sense in a vacuum, but context matters. In addition, he’s not just a running back; he’s a Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara type that can impact games as a pass catcher.
A lot of those in the media are writing off the Falcons, but Vegas loves what the club did in the draft. In fact, the oddsmakers see Atlanta as a much-improved team.
Prior to the NFL Draft, the Falcons’ win total was 7.5 games, and they were +300 to take the NFC South. Now, Atlanta’s win total is 8.5 games with +250 odds to win the division.
Your favorite personality at ESPN or Fox Sports might not be buying what the Falcons are building, but oddsmakers in Vegas certainly see the draft as a success.
Photographer: Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire
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