Falcons’ Arthur Smith: ‘We’ve got a lot of needs’

INDIANAPOLIS — Here’s what Falcons coach Arthur Smith had to say at the NFL scouting combine Tuesday:

ON THEIR THEME AT THE COMBINE: “We’re looking for anybody that can help us. We’ve got a lot of needs, like most teams. We’re trying to do our due diligence and making sure that we know who every one of these players are. For me, this is just kind of beginning stages of personnel evaluations, obviously, our scouts, personnel staff that worked on this class for several years.”

ON CORDARRELLE PATTERSON’S BIG CONTRIBUTION LAST SEASON: “We had a few coaches that had worked with him in Chicago. Dave Ragone and Charles London had been with him in Chicago. His name obviously was up in free agency, and they kind of pitched to Terry and I, hey, this guy, we think he can do a little bit more than some of the things we dabbled in in Chicago. And so obviously, like I said, we were looking for help anywhere we could get. CP did a terrific job and embraced the role and took off from there.”

ExploreFalcons’ Terry Fontenot: ‘Working to build a championship roster one player at a time’

ON THE EVALUATION OF FALCONS FREE AGENTS: “We have a plan where we’re at with all those guys. You know, we can control what we can control. But if somebody certainly is going to go to free agency, whether we have an offer out for them or not. That’s their prerogative. That’s (the way) the rule is set up. Right. That’s what guys fought for. When guys go to free agency and there’s certainly the chance that the market can dictate that they can be out of your price range.”

ON HIS TIME AS TITANS OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR WORKING WITH RYAN TANNEHILL: “I’m not going to reflect on the Titans. I’ve got enough things that I’ve got to worry about in Atlanta. I support the heck out of those guys, we’re not playing them, but I’m not gonna. I’m just focused on the Atlanta Falcons. I appreciate the question, though.”

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ON HOW MUCH PREP WORK HE’S DONE ON THE OFFENSIVE LINEMEN AT THE COMBINE: “Absolutely. This is the first time and then some of these guys we saw at the Senior Bowl, but as coaches to get opportunity, you know, we’ll have our formal interviews, and we’ll certainly have guys that we will meet with at night. Some of them in the morning, but so it’s just beginning stages to get to know who these players are as people, how they learn. So just part of the process.”

ON CALVIN RIDLEY: “I know a lot of these guys that cover us locally, they get sick of me saying it, but I don’t have an update.”

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

ON FALCONS RECEIVER RUSSELL GAGE: “Like all of our guys that are up for free agency, Russell did a terrific job. He got injured (high ankle sprain) early in the season. Came back and I thought was really productive late in the year and helped us.”

ON BEING ABLE TO MEET THE PLAYERS IN PERSON: “You had to do it by Zoom. It’s good to be back. I like being around people and get to know them. Everybody has got different strategies. And you’ll see throughout the league, it makes it fun. Some teams are here. Some teams aren’t from the coaching side, but personally, it helps me. I’d like to get to know them. It’s like the early stages of putting a name with the face.”

ON HOW THEY EVALUATE A PLAYER’S MAKEUP: “I don’t think you’re going to make a snap judgment over an 18-minute speed-dating meeting, but I think you look at their body of work and get into some part of the process. I’ve seen guys come in there and they light up the room and they’re, you know, they can fake it for 18 or 20 minutes. I’ve seen other guys and you know it’s not their setting. Look at their body of work. So, it’s just a small part of it.”

ExploreRead more about the Falcons on AJC.com

ON EVALUATING PLAYERS WITH OFF-THE-FIELD ISSUES: “I don’t subscribe to a one size fits all. You know, I still believe in due process. So you just got to dig it. There may be a hidden story or somebody may have an agenda that they talked to at the school. You just try to look at somebody’s body of work and give them the benefit of the doubt until they prove you wrong. Just take a case by case.”

ON THE DEPTH OF THE EDGE RUSH GROUP: “I saw some of them down at the Senior Bowl. I know the buildup to the draft is great. ... I love the hot takes this time of year. There’s always players, there’s always good players at every position. There’s somebody that’s going to emerge. A lot of us are going to look stupid because we passed up on someone. ... You do a due diligence every year. And there’s a good group of them.”

ON MATT RYAN’S FUTURE: “Certainly that’s, you know, where Matt’s at. I mean, obviously, we just watched in our division. Tom (Brady), Tom played until he was ... maybe is still playing. I don’t know ... certainly he didn’t look his age, and Matt is a lot younger than Tom. I understand that there is only one Tom Brady, but certainly feels good about where he’s at. We anticipate Matt being a part of the team, but you know, I think you don’t ever back yourself into a corner. So, if somebody gives you an offer you can’t refuse. ... I think Matt knows how we feel about him. I think Matt’s got a lot of good football left in him.”

ON GETTING AN OFFER FOR MATT RYAN: “It depends on what the offer is. Like I said, it’s like the old Don Corleone, the offer that you can’t refuse. I think you’ve got to take it. But that’s with everything. I’m sure that somebody you know, you can ask Terry (Fontenot) if somebody wants to give a bag of balls for me, he may push me out the door.”

ON HIS DRAFT PHILOSOPHY: “Certainly, you look at the history of the draft. And that’s in every position. So you know, you may feel good about your running back room or your receiver room, and somebody may fall that you think it’s a generational talent, well, you ought to take them. Make sure you do your due diligence. I mean, I think that’s at every position. I think in hindsight, that a part of it where you think you’re set at this position, and you pass up on some good players. So, I think every year that’s your charge to make sure that you know this draft. That’s one thing about the NFL. So, it’s not like recruiting where you can take 25 really top players that are all first-rounders. You’ve got to do your due diligence and make sure you get the right fit.”

ON GETTING PLAYERS WHO CAN CONTRIBUTE RIGHT AWAY: “I think that’s every year. ... You can’t skip steps because there’s really good players that come out of that undrafted every year. It’s always an open competition. And, obviously, on the surface, you know, if you invest an early-round pick what their salary-cap structure is right there. But if a guy’s a better player and he’s undrafted, he’s going to play.”

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