rain.png
Monday September 20th, 2021 3:21PM

Falcons pick Florida TE Kyle Pitts at No. 4 in NFL draft

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Falcons decided not to pick their quarterback of the future, going for more immediate help by selecting Florida tight end Kyle Pitts at No. 4 in the NFL draft on Thursday night.

Coming off a third straight losing season, the Falcons had their highest pick since Matt Ryan was chosen at No. 3 in 2008.

With so many highly rated quarterbacks, there was plenty of speculation that Atlanta might go with Ryan's eventual successor.

Instead, they added a 6-foot-6, 246-pound player who gives the 35-year-old quarterback another dynamic weapon in an offense that already has receivers Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley.

“I want to learn from those guys," Pitts said. "From day one, I'm going to be like a sponge."

Pitts was the first pick for the Falcons' new leadership duo of general manager Terry Fontenot and coach Arthur Smith.

They took over a franchise that fired coach Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff after an 0-5 start last season. The Falcons finished 4-12 under interim coach Raheem Morrie.

Pitts was the player the Falcons had targeted all along, Fontenot said, even though Ryan is the only quarterback on the roster.

“We believe we took the best player off the board,” he said. “We feel very good about that.”

Pitts can line up all over the field, creating huge mismatch issues for opposing defenses. He's too fast for most linebackers to cover, and he usually towers over any defensive back that tries to take him on.

“He's a unique player,” Smith said. “We're real excited to work with him.”

The Falcons should be able to address other issues Friday — maybe even quarterback. They hold the third pick of the second round (No. 35 overall) and another selection in the third round at No 68.

“It's cool having a pick so early,” Fontenot said. “We're going to get another good player.”

Atlanta passed on the chance to make this the first draft in which the top four picks were quarterbacks.

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence went to the Jacksonville Jaguars with the No. 1 choice, while the New York Jets next chose BYU signal-caller Zach Wilson.

The first drama came at No. 3, a spot the San Francisco 49ers acquired in a blockbuster deal with Miami ahead of the draft. While Alabama's Mac Jones was pegged by many as the likely choice, the 49ers went with Trey Lance from FCS school North Dakota State.

With Lance off the board, the Falcons decided this was not the time to line up a succession plan for the post-Ryan era. They went with Pitts instead of Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, a native of suburban Kennesaw who played his first college season at Georgia.

“Let's get to work,” Ryan tweeted to Pitts.

Fields lasted until No. 11, when the Chicago Bears traded up to get him.

The Falcons went into the draft with a total of nine selections, giving Fontenot and Smith a chance to address myriad issues on a team that had to cut loose several top veterans and wasn't able to make much of a splash in free agency because of severe salary cap issues.

Even now, Atlanta doesn't have nearly enough cap room to sign its expected draft class, which means more moves are still to come.

There has even been speculation that the Falcons might consider a trade for Jones, their seven-time Pro Bowl receiver who battled injuries last season.

“We knew when we stepped into this that we were going to have to make tough decisions because that’s just the reality of it,” Fontenot said before the draft.

While Pitts is tagged as a can't miss-prospect, rated by many experts as the second-best player in the draft behind Lawrence, his selection left the Falcons with many other holes to fill.

The defense needs a major upgrade, and the Falcons must get better protection in front of Ryan, who has been sacked 131 times over the last three seasons.

No matter how many weapons Ryan has around him, it doesn't do much good if he's flat on his back.

___

Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963 His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paulnewberry

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

  • Associated Categories: Local/State News, Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Football, AP Online - Georgia News, AP Sports - NFL
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
The Latest: Wash. state alters vaccine system as demand ebbs
Washington state is changing the way it allocates coronavirus vaccine as demand for the shots declines in some places
9:30PM ( 9 minutes ago )
Biden sells economic plan in GA, calls for rich to pay more
President Joe Biden has taken his pitch to Georgia for $4 trillion in spending to rebuild America’s aged infrastructure and vastly expand the government social safety net
9:27PM ( 12 minutes ago )
NFL draft: No suspense as 3 QBs dominate early picks
There was no suspense at the top of this NFL draft
9:19PM ( 20 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: 49ers take QB Trey Lance at No. 3
Trey Lance, a quarterback from FCS school North Dakota State who started 17 games in his career, has been chosen third overall in the NFL draft by San Francisco
8:46PM ( 53 minutes ago )
Bradley has no stress and no bogeys to lead at Innisbrook
Keegan Bradley had no stress and no bogeys on the tough Copperhead course at Innisbrook
7:01PM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: Cleveland steps up as newest host of NFL draft
Since the NFL took the draft on the road, most teams in the league have sought to host it
6:59PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Sports
Family affair: Surtain, Samuel could go early in NFL draft
Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II, Florida State’s Asante Samuel Jr. and Jaycee Horn of South Carolina are three of the top cornerbacks in this year’s NFL draft
1:27PM ( 8 hours ago )
Networks realize draft drama without frills sometimes best
Producer Charlie Yook and NFL Network didn’t have their own draft broadcast last year, but he was able to glean a couple of things from last year’s joint effort with ESPN
7:34PM ( 1 day ago )
NFL seeks return to normalcy with draft on Lake Erie shores
Return To Normalcy
5:20PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online Football
Biden and Carter, longtime allies, reconnect in Georgia
President Joe Biden has visited former President Jimmy Carter in Plains, Georgia, where the 96-year-old and his wife, Rosalynn, have lived most of their lives
8:47PM ( 52 minutes ago )
Biden pitches tax plan in Georgia: Right that rich pay more
President Joe Biden has taken his pitch to Georgia for $4 trillion in spending to rebuild America’s aged infrastructure and vastly expand the government social safety net
7:26PM ( 2 hours ago )
Biden turns to Georgia to begin pitch for huge spending plan
President Joe Biden is taking his pitch to Georgia for $4 trillion in spending to rebuild America’s aged infrastructure and vastly expand the government social safety net
5:13PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online - Georgia News
Hello, Cleveland: NFL takes 'blended' draft back on road
This year's NFL draft will be unlike any other
4:39PM ( 2 days ago )
The Latest: Straka tests positive, withdraws from Valspar
Sepp Straka has withdrawn from the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook after testing positive for the coronavirus
2:01PM ( 2 days ago )
Geno Hayes, former NFL, Florida State linebacker, dies at 33
Former NFL linebacker and Florida State star Geno Hayes has died
1:54PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Sports - NFL
The Latest: Wash. state alters vaccine system as demand ebbs
Washington state is changing the way it allocates coronavirus vaccine as demand for the shots declines in some places
9:30PM ( 9 minutes ago )
Biden sells economic plan in GA, calls for rich to pay more
President Joe Biden has taken his pitch to Georgia for $4 trillion in spending to rebuild America’s aged infrastructure and vastly expand the government social safety net
9:27PM ( 12 minutes ago )
NFL draft: No suspense as 3 QBs dominate early picks
There was no suspense at the top of this NFL draft
9:19PM ( 20 minutes ago )
Water bill may open spigot for Biden infrastructure plan
Rarely has a routine water resources bill generated so much political buzz
9:19PM ( 20 minutes ago )
In 1st post-office speech, Pence lays down marker for 2024
In his first public address since the end of the Trump administration, former Vice President Mike Pence put down a marker for a potential return to elected office, telling an audience in early-voting South Carolina that he plans to use the coming months “pushing back on the liberal agenda” he says is wrong for the country
9:10PM ( 29 minutes ago )