The media’s fixation on Lamar Jackson and the Atlanta Falcons caused them to gloss over the team general manager Terry Fontenot and head coach Arthur Smith have assembled for 2023.
The Falcons have backed Desmond Ridder as their quarterback, and he should have plenty of help around him.
Bill Barnwell recently wrote a detailed analysis of every team’s offensive weapons surrounding the quarterback. He placed the Falcons at No. 10 after being ranked No. 27 last year and No. 23 in 2021.
“This is a very big three,” wrote Barnwell on ESPN+. “When everyone’s healthy, the Falcons will roll out a top-10 pick at running back (Bijan Robinson), wide receiver (Drake London) and tight end (Kyle Pitts). No team since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 has had a top-10 homegrown player at those three positions at the same time. A few have done it with imported players; the only one since 2010 is the 2014 Lions, who had Reggie Bush, Calvin Johnson and Eric Ebron.”
It turns out what the Falcons have done in the draft is unprecedented. Not only are they the only team with three homegrown players, they did it in three consecutive years.
The other factor that should be incredibly exciting for Falcons fans… Pitts is the oldest of the trio at 22-years old.
Pitts had sophomore slump in 2022, but Barnwell expects him to bounce back in 2023.
Coming off a 1,000-yard season as a rookie, Pitts was seen as a potential challenger to Travis Kelce’s throne in Year 2,” wrote Barnwell. “It didn’t go as well. Pitts’ catch rate dropped below 50%, and he finished with just 356 yards and two scores before suffering a season-ending knee injury. I’m still optimistic, given that he was averaging 1.8 yards per route run and commanding a target share north of 30% before the injury. The catch rate will bounce back, and if the Falcons throw more often Pitts and London will be able to produce big numbers.”
Barnwell also had high praise for running back Tyler Allgeier in his analysis calling him “exceptional.” He said the Falcons should have the best one-two punch in the NFL if Robinson lives up to expectations.
Interestingly enough, in the 500 words Barnwell wrote about the Falcons, he failed to mention arguably the Falcons’ most consistent weapon the last two seasons, Cordarrelle Patterson.
The question on offense remains quarterback.
Desmond Ridder will have questions surrounding him until he gets out there and proves his worth on the field in September.
After coming to terms with Ridder as the quarterback, it seems the national-NFL media is finally taking notice… “hey, these guys might be pretty good.”