It’s confirmation that Blank intends to give his new front office and coaching staff the latitude they need to make a move.
The Falcons are a team no one can seem to get a read on heading into next Thursday night’s 2021 NFL Draft kickoff, which is exactly the way they like it. That’s reflected in the way national reporters who pride themselves on their connections are talking about this team, with a heaping helping of “if,” “no one seems quite certain,” and “people I talk to” making that clear.
This has, as we’ve noted before, left us to collect rumors and reports and see what kind of picture they paint when put together. Peter King, who has been doing this for decades and remains well-connected in league circles, has seemed as stumped as anyone. In this latest, he’s saying Arthur Smith likes the quarterback class but also likes Matt Ryan’s ability to keep playing at a high level and that Terry Fontenot remains a cipher in terms of his preferences, though he mentions that he “may” want to trade down. The most interesting note here is the one he puts forward most confidently: That Falcons owner Arthur Blank is a fan of the quarterbacks at the top of this draft class.
What I’m hearing: Owner Arthur Blank is fascinated by the quarterbacks atop the draft, thinking the franchise might not be in such an advantageous position to take one for years. But Blank will not force a decision—of that I am sure. He hired GM Terry Fontenot and coach Arthur Smith and won’t big-foot them on their first big call.
As is the case with almost everything we’ve heard this offseason, this is interesting but doesn’t really move the needle if it’s true. Blank has vowed to let Fontenot and Smith make the decisions this offseason without pushing them in any particular direction, and King seems confident that’s true. This coupled with former general manager Thomas Dimitroff’s stated interest in some of the top quarterbacks in this class indicates that Atlanta would’ve taken one had the team not turned over its front office staff, but all Blank’s reported interest tells us here is that he’s likely to be very supportive if Fontenot does take the plunge with a top quarterback.
King and many others continue to predict that the Falcons will wind up with Florida tight end Kyle Pitts when the dust settles, a possibility that still seems very legitimate. The biggest takeaway remains that nobody seems to know what Atlanta’s up to and their preferences outside of vague leanings, and fortunately for a team cultivating mystery, nobody associated with the Falcons appears ready to set the record straight.