ATLANTA – The Atlanta Falcons decided not to pick the quarterback of the future, and they sought more immediate help by selecting Florida tight end Kyle Pitts at No. 4 in the NFL draft Thursday night.
After a losing third consecutive season, the Falcons had their highest pick since Matt Ryan was picked at No. 3 in 2008.
With so many highly-rated quarterbacks, there was a lot of speculation that Atlanta could 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 opening that already features receivers Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley.
“ I’ve been waiting for that call my whole life, ” Pitts said. “ I can’t wait to get out of Atlanta. ”
Pitts was the first pick for the Falcons’ new leadership team: general manager Terry Fontenot and coach Arthur Smith.
They missed the opportunity to make this the first draft in which the top four picks were quarterbacks.
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence went to the Jacksonville Jaguars with No. 1 overall choice, while the New York Jets chose BYU signal caller Zach Wilson.
The first drama came at No. 3, a spot the San Francisco 49ers acquired in a successful deal with Miami before the draft. While Alabama’s Mac Jones was considered by many to be the likely choice, the 49ers chose Trey Lance from the North Dakota State FCS School.
With Lance off the board, the Falcons decided this was not the time to prepare a succession plan for the post-Ryan era. They went with Pitts instead of Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, a suburban Kennesaw native who played his first college season at Georgia.