Falcons’ new GM Terry Fontenot to pick ‘best player available’

Falcons hire Terry Fontenot as general manager to replace Thomas Dimitroff. He becomes the first African-American to hold position for team founded in 1965.

Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot said he’ll make sure the team selects the “best player available in the draft.”

Under previous regimes, the Falcons have drafted for need and have missed out on several top players.

“You never want to reach for needs,” Fontenot said Tuesday. “It’s cool listening to (former Baltimore general manager) Ozzie Newsome tell stories about where there were certain players on the board at certain areas, and they took the best player available, and he ended up taking a Hall of Fame player as opposed to reaching for a need.”

The Falcons have the fourth overall pick in the NFL draft this year.

“I would say we never want to reach for needs,” Fontenot said. “We want to stack the board. We want to be consistent. It’s never a bad thing to add to a strength. You want to get good football players because it’s a long season. There are a lot of injuries.”

In 2007, the Falcons because they needed a pass rusher drafted defensive end Jamaal Anderson out of Arkansas with the eighth overall pick. Linebacker Patrick Willis (11th), running back Marshawn Lynch (12th) and cornerback Darrelle Revis (14th) went later.

In 2009, the Falcons needed a defensive tackle and selected Peria Jerry with the 24th overall pick. Two picks later, the Green Bay Packers selected linebacker Clay Matthews III.

Recently in 2018, the Falcons, needed a pass rusher, selected Takk McKinley with the 26th overall pick. Four picks later T.J. Watt went to Pittsburgh.

“There are a lot of challenges,” Fontenot said. “You want to, at any position, you want to continue to add competition. You want to get the best players that fit the makeup standard. That fit the physical talent (with the) skill set. We have a clear vision for what they are going to be. You definitely want to the best player available.”

Falcons’ 2021 draft position

1. Jacksonville Jaguars

2. New York Jets

3. Miami Dolphins (via Houston)

4. Falcons

5. Cincinnati Bengals

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