Atlanta Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot has addressed the question of drafting players simply, best player available.
The Falcons haven’t had to worry about filling biggest needs in recent years, because they’ve had needs everywhere. After a busy offseason, that isn’t the case in Fontenot’s third year, and he will face the question on April 27th with the No. 8 pick, best value or biggest need?
Obviously those philosophies aren’t mutually exclusive.
The best drafts are the ones where the best prospect available also fits a need. And value comes in many forms. The financial savings from a rookie contract is massive for a premium position like quarterback, edge, or wide receiver vs. guard or running back.
ESPN’s Jordan Reid and Matt Miller picked two players for every team in their own mock draft deciding on filling the biggest need or getting the best value.
Miller chose Iowa edge rusher Lukas Van Ness as the player who fills the biggest need for the Falcons.
Depending on how you feel about QB Desmond Ridder, you might go quarterback here. The Falcons, however, continue to say that Ridder is the starter for 2023, so we’ll take their word for it and look at defensive end. The interior of the defensive line is stacked, but Atlanta could use some speed and power coming off the edge. Van Ness has jaw-dropping power, length and burst.Matt Miller, ESPN+
Reid takes arguably the best player in the draft at No. 8 for the Falcons as his “value” pick… Texas running back Bijan Robinson.
Robinson is a top-five player on my board. Positional downgrade aside, he would likely be among the best prospects on most teams’ boards by this point in the draft, too. Pairing Tyler Allgeier with Robinson gives a run-heavy team a dynamic one-two punch in the backfield. While such a pick could raise some eyebrows on draft night, adding one of the best players in the draft at this spot was a no-brainer in this exercise.Jordan Reid, ESPN+
You see the conundrum of taking a running back at No. 8. Even acknowledging Robinson is a top-five player, Reid was still unable to make the pick without the caveat of “positional downgrade aside.”
Well, the Falcons have to take into account position value when making a decision, and how do you make a value pick while ignoring positional value?
The Falcons were content to ignore positional value in 2021 when they selected Kyle Pitts over quarterback Justin Fields and wide receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Jaylen Waddle among others.
Would they be willing to do the same with Robinson at No. 8?
Robinson might be the safest pick. He might be the pick who could have the biggest immediate impact.
But you can’t ignore positional value when making a “value” pick.