The Saints and Falcons both signed a bunch of second-tier free agents. The Falcons basically replaced Todd Gurley with Mike Davis, who did amass 1,000 yards last season.
Here are the free-agency grades: Bucs - A, Panthers - A, Falcons - B (given the money they had) and the Saints - F.
The Falcons must make up most of the ground in the draft, where they have the fourth pick.
SiriusXM NFL radio analysts Brady Quinn and Charlie Weis were discussing the NFC South on the NFL Blitz show on Tuesday.
Weis believes the Falcons likely will have to pick between Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields and Florida tight end Kyle Pitts.
“Because I don’t like any of the defensive players that high, there isn’t one of the defensive players that I would take with the fourth pick,” Weis said. “So, because of that, if I’m the Falcons and I’m picking, if I’m using the pick, I’m either taking the quarterback of the future or I’m taking Pitts.”
Weis has BYU’s Zach Wilson rated as the fourth best quarterback. Jacksonville and the New York Jets have the first two picks in the draft.
“Then the 49ers pick and everyone assumes it’s Mac Jones, we don’t know that either,” Weis said. “If that’s the case, you’d be sitting there with Justin Fields, sitting there at No. 4. You’re the Falcons, are you taking Justin Fields or are you taking Kyle Pitts because you don’t have a trade worth making?”
Quinn quickly answered the rhetorical question.
“Justin Fields because I don’t know that you are going to be in this position again the following year,” Quinn said. “It stinks because Pitts is such a talent and you’d love to get Matt Ryan even more players, guys to throw to, but I think with Julio Jones (and) Calvin Ridley still there, Hayden Hurst who is definitely impactful in the pass game, still, it would be tough for me to think I’m going to be drafting No. 4 again, and I’m going to get a talent. Again, a kid who’s from the state of Georgia. I think there is a little bit of pressure.
“We’ve had callers call-in on the SiriusXM Blitz about that exact subject. If Fields is there and they don’t take him, people are going to be frustrated because there are so many Fields’ fans, who even though he left Georgia and went to Ohio State, they are still pulling for the guy and they’d love to see him in a Falcons uniform.”
Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, of Cartersville, is projected to be drafted No. 1 overall. Wilson is projected to go second, and there is debate over whether the 49ers will take Jones or Fields.
“I have him as the second ranked quarterback,” Quinn said of Fields. “So, in my mind it would be a no-brainer, especially if you’re the organization and you’re saying to yourself, we don’t know how committed we really are to Matt Ryan right now outside of what his contact looks like.”
2. Move to 3-4: Falcons defensive coordinator Dean Pees said the defense will be multiple, but the team has amassed at lot of former 3-4 players this offseason including Jonathan Bullard, who can play tackle in the 4-3 and end in the 3-4.
Behind defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, there are some steady performers in Tyeler Davison and Steven Means. The rest of the defensive linemen -- Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, Marlon Davidson, Deadrin Senat, John Cominsky, Chris Slayton – are unproven at the NFL level.
There’s also the case of Bullard’s former college teammate Dante Fowler, who’s trying to come off an injury-plagued down season.
“I’ll probably be doing a little bit of (end and tackle) all across the line, hopefully,” Bullard said. “The more I can do, the more I can help out. So, my goal is to be able to help anywhere they ask me to. I don’t know exactly where I’m going to be as of now, but I’m sure I’ll learn more over the next few weeks.”
3. Becker signed: Tight end Ryan Becker signed with the Falcons on Tuesday.
Becker, who played at SMU, signed with Arizona as an undrafted free agent in 2020.
Becker, who’s 6-foot-5, 248 pounds, played in 46 games and made 15 starts at SMU. He caught 16 passes for 198 yards and five touchdowns in his college career.
Alabama's Patrick Surtain waits on a play during the second half against South Carolina on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, in Columbia, S.C. (Richard Shiro/AP)
Credit: Richard Shiro
Credit: Richard Shiro
4. Oddsmakers mock draft: Oddsmakers have the Falcons trading out of the fourth spot and taking Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain with the ninth overall pick and trading back into the first round to pick up Alabama running back Najee Harris with the 31st pick in SportsBettingDime.com’s First Round NFL Mock Draft 1.0, which was released Tuesday.
The Sports Betting Dime First Round NFL Mock Draft 1.0 from the oddsmakers is based upon the actual over/under NFL Draft props being offered by the major sportsbooks including, but not limited to: odds to be a top-5/10 pick, player draft position over/unders, odds to be first player taken at each position, first-round position totals, offense or defense with first pick for each team.
Trades were created to ensure a player was picked in his average draft position by a team with the specific need. The seven first-round picks that were swapped via manufactured trades are indicated with an asterisk.
Last year, the @SBD NFL Mock Draft correctly predicted 8 of the top 13 picks and 23 of the 32 players eventually selected in the first round. Additionally, @SBD was correct that a team would trade up to select Jordan Love, but incorrectly had the Colts jumping to 22 as opposed to the Packers sliding up to 26.
Here’s a look at this year’s @SBD NFL Mock Draft 1.0:
- Jacksonville Jaguars - Trevor Lawrence
- New York Jets - Zach Wilson
- San Francisco 49ers - Mac Jones
- Denver Broncos* - Justin Fields
- Cincinnati Bengals - Kyle Pitts
- Miami Dolphins - Ja’Marr Chase
- New England Patriots* - Trey Lance
- Carolina Panthers - Penei Sewell
- Atlanta Falcons* - Patrick Surtain
- Los Angeles Chargers* - Rashawn Slater
- New York Giants - DeVonta Smith
- Philadelphia Eagles - Jaylen Waddle
- Dallas Cowboys* - Jaycee Horn
- Minnesota Vikings - Christian Darrisaw
- Detroit Lions* - Micah Parsons
- Arizona Cardinals - Caleb Farley
- Las Vegas Raiders - Trevon Moehrig
- Miami Dolphins - Kwity Paye
- Washington - Dillon Radunz
- Chicago Bears - Teven Jenkins
- Indianapolis Colts - Liam Eichenberg
- Tennessee Titans - Greg Newsome
- New York Jets - Jaelan Phillips
- Pittsburgh Steelers - Alijah Vera-Tucker
- Jacksonville Jaguars - Gregory Rousseau
- Cleveland Browns - Jayson Oweh
- Baltimore Ravens - Rashod Bateman
- New Orleans Saints - Terrace Marshall
- Green Bay Packers - Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
- Buffalo Bills - Azeez Ojular
- Atlanta Falcons* - Najee Harris
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Joe Tryon
5. New Director of Sports Medicine: Jake Pfeil, formerly of Florida State, was named the director of sports medicine by the Falcons.
He served as the executive associate director of sports medicine/head athletic trainer at Florida State.
He is certified by the National Athletic Trainers Association Board of Certification and earned his master’s degree in sport administration from Mississippi State in 2002. He graduated from Florida State in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in sport management with an emphasis in athletic training.
Pfeil spent two summers as in intern with the Falcons in 1999 and 2000 and was a seasonal assistant athletic trainer for the club in 2002.
6. Kiper has Falcons taking Lance: ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper has the Falcons trading back to six with the Dolphins and taking quarterback Trey Lance from North Dakota State.
He has the Falcons taking Miami defensive end Gregory Rousseau in the second round with the 35th overall pick.
For the record, we’re going to stand on D. Led’s Mock Draft 4.0, which has the Falcons taking the best player available in Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell.
Falcons cheerleaders perform in military-theme uniforms during the game against the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)
Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com
Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com
7. Cheerleader tryouts. The Falcons will host a blended audition process to make the 2021 cheerleading squad.
Candidates will submit dance videos virtually during the preliminary and semifinal auditions. Final auditions will take place in person and socially distanced.
Leading to the auditions, a variety of dance and audition prep classes will be offered to the candidates interested in learning about the Atlanta Falcons Cheerleaders dance techniques and style.
The first virtual dance prep class was Tuesday. Another will be held April 24. Audition prep classes will be held May 11 and June 5.
For more information register here. Follow @ATLCheerleaders on Twitter.
8. Free-agency tracker. The Falcons planned to go value shopping in free agency and have added seven players.
The Falcons have agreed to $11.31 million in contracts and paid out $2.5 million in signing bonuses.
Running back Mike Davis was the lone free agent to receive a two-year deal. The other players have signed one-year deals.
One of the stunners of free agency is that former Falcons safety Keanu Neal received only a one-year contract for $3 million from the Dallas Cowboys.
Here’s a look at the updated Falcons’ free-agency tracker.
Ricardo Allen, FS: Released Feb. 18. Agreed to one-year deal with the Bengals.
Allen Bailey, DE: Released Feb. 18.
James Carpenter, OL: Released March 9.
--Erik Harris, S: Agreed to terms March 18. He signed a one year, $1.35 million deal and received a $300,000 signing bonus. A total of $600,000 is guaranteed.
--Brandon Copeland, LB: Agreed to terms March 18. He signed a one-year, $1.04 million deal and received a $50,000 signing bonus and $300,000 of his contract was guaranteed.
--Mike Davis, RB: Agreed to terms March 23. He signed a two-year, $5.5 million deal, which included a $1.5 million signing bonus. A total of $3 million of the deal is guaranteed.
--Barkevious Mingo, OLB: Agreed to terms March 23. He signed a one-year, $1.25 million deal. A total of $1.1 million in guaranteed including a $175,000 signing bonus.
--Fabian Moreau, CB: Signed a one-year, $1.27 million deal. He received a $137,500 signing bonus. A total of $987,500 of the deal is guaranteed.
--Josh Andrews, CB: Agreed to one-year contract with guaranteed money. Signed a one-year, $1.27 million deal. He received a $137,500 signing bonus.
--Jonathan Bullard, DT: Agreed to one-year deal. We’re waiting on the terms.
--Ryan Becker, TE: Signed on Tuesday.
Lee Smith, TE: Sent a seventh-round pick in 2022 to Buffalo.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
Keanu Neal, SS: Did not receive the franchise tag. He signed a one-year fully guaranteed $3 million deal with the Cowboys.
Damontae Kazee, FS: He signed with the Cowboys.
Alex Mack, C: He signed a three-year, $14.85 million deal with the 49ers. A total of $5.6 million was guaranteed.
Darqueze Dennard, CB: Played on a one-year contract in 2020.
Todd Gurley, RB: Played on a one-year contract.
Charles Harris, DE: Signed a one-year $1.75 million fully guaranteed deal with the Detroit Lions.
Brian Hill, RB: Is a valuable special-teams player.
Justin McCray, OL: Signed a two-year, $4 million deal with the Texans and received a $500,000 signing bonus.
Steven Means, DE: He re-signed in free agency after played in all 16 games last season, with 11 starts. Finished with three sacks.
Sharrod Neasman, FS: Solid backup and special-teams player.
LaRoy Reynolds, LB: Speedy special-teamer.
Edmond Robinson, LB: Provided quality depth while playing in 13 games in 2020.
Luke Stocker, TE: Blocking tight end was replaced by Lee Smith.
Laquon Treadwell, WR: Played last season on a one-year contract. Made a couple of plays late in the season.
John Wetzel, OT: Has basically been veteran insurance at tackle.
Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB: Has provided quality depth at cornerback spot. Played in 15 games last season and had three interceptions
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
Matt Gono, OL: He signed his $3.384 tender.
Brandon Powell, WR: No tender was made. He signed with the Bills.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS
Younghoe Koo, PK: Signed March 11.
Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, DE: Signed March 11.
Tyler Hall, CB: Signed March 11.
Christian Blake, WR: Signed March 11.
Jaeden Graham, TE: Signed March 12.
9. Updated depth chart. Becker joins the ever growing tight end group.
Here’s the updated depth chart:
WR 11 Julio Jones, 13 Christian Blake
LT 70 Jake Matthews
LG 73 Matt Gono, 66 Willie Wright
C 61 Matt Hennessy, 68 Josh Andrews
RG 63 Chris Lindstrom
RT 76 Kaleb McGary, 71 Willie Beavers
TE 81 Hayden Hurst, 85 Lee Smith, 87 Jaeden Graham, Ryan Becker
WR 83 Russell Gage, 16 Greg Dortch
WR 18 Calvin Ridley
QB 2 Matt Ryan
HB 28 Mike Davis, 25 Ito Smith, 30 Qadree Ollison, 26 Tony Brooks-James
FB 40 Keith Smith
DE 55 Steven Means, 91 Jacob Tuioti-Mariner
DT 97 Grady Jarrett, 90 Marlon Davidson, 94 Deadrin Senat
DT 96 Tyeler Davison, 99 Jonathan Bullard, 50 John Cominsky, 79 Chris Slayton
DE 56 Dante Fowler
OLB 51 Brandon Copeland
LB 45 Deion Jones, 46 Edmond Robinson
LB 54 Foyesade Oluokun, 43 Mykal Walker
OLB 52 Barkevious Mingo
RCB 20 Kendall Sheffield, 22 Fabian Moreau, 29 Chris Williamson
LCB 24 A.J. Terrell, 44 Tyler Hall
NCB 26 Isaiah Oliver, 42 Delrick Abrams
FS 23 Erik Harris, 39 T.J. Green
SS 32 Jaylinn Hawkins
K 7 Younghoe Koo, 1 Elliott Fry
P 4 Sterling Hofrichter, 9 Dom Maggio
LS 47 Josh Harris
KO 7 Younghoe Koo
KR 14 Chris Rowland
PR 14 Chris Rowland
Here's a quick look at some key stats for Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan for the 2020 season and his 13-year career.
Falcons 2021 draft picks
First round: No. 4 overall
Second round: No. 35 (third pick of the round)
Third round: No. 68 (fourth pick of the round)
Fourth round: No. 108 (third pick of the round)
Fifth round: No. 148 (fourth pick of the round)
Fifth round: No. 182 (38th pick of the round, Compensatory pick)
Fifth round: No. 183 (39th pick of the round, compensatory pick)
Sixth round: No. 187 (third pick of the round)
Sixth round: No. 219 (35th pick of the round, compensatory pick)
Seventh round: No. 232 (fourth pick of the round) Tennessee has this pick from Falcons through Miami in Charles Harris deal.