The Falcons now have three OTAs in the books, with seven left on the docket. Thursday's session was open to the media, in addition to player and assistant coach availabilities galore.
It offered our first glimpse of the rookies and veterans working together, including the first time to see so many new faces in black and white.
That leaves plenty to discuss both in this Friday Bair Mail and future installments next week.
Let's skip the long preamble and get right to your questions:
Chris Atlas from Marietta, Ga.
Heading into the off-season our WR cupboard was in shambles. Now that we're in OTA's & inching toward mini/training camp, we have procured what could be a surprisingly good group. Yes the o-line & QB have to play well but I don't think Atlanta gets enough credit for the talent they brought in. Given how coach Smith unlocked CP, there's no reason why Auden Tate, Damiere Byrd, & Bryan Edwards can't do the same lined up next Drake London & Kyle Pitts. Would you agree the WR room is middle of the league at worst now?
Bair: Receiver has been a major need for a long time, since Calvin Ridley became unavailable during the 2021 season. With Russell Gate in Tampa and Ridley suspended, you're assessment's right that the position group was set way back.
While we can include Kyle Pitts and Cordarrelle Patterson in the pass-catcher conversation, we saw last year that the Falcons can't thrive with Pitts and CP alone.
They need more, and they got more. Drake London was obviously a huge pickup at No. 8 overall and a solid scheme fit. He's going to have rookie moments. His transition might not be as seamless as Pitts' was a year ago. I'm confident that he'll produce and become a major factor in this league over time.
I also think Bryan Edwards was an underrated pickup who will excel and get targets while defenses focus on others. While he's not a blazer, he can make big plays at 17 yards per reception. The receiver corps is not perfect, but it's far better than it was in January. Marcus Mariota will benefit from that. The running game should benefit from a receiver corps that, led by London, is far more talent than the second half of 2021.
On the first day of OTAs, the team puts in work on the field and in the gym.
Will Smith from Summerville, Ga.
Arthur Smith has really filled the RB room, hasn't he? What do you think his plan is? Trying to establish a run first offense, heavy play action, Move CP to full time wide receiver? Maybe find the next Derrick Henry? Isn't it correct that only three RB's dress our for any given game? Why carry so many on a talent starved roster? Help me see the master plan.
Bair: Will, I think all these running back additions, and trying Avery Williams out on offense, follows a common offseason theme. Arthur Smith wants to add competition. We aren't talking about a bunch of A-tier runners. Patterson will move all over the place. Rookie Tyler Allgeier – I think he's gonna be good – and veteran Damien Williams will battle for carries. Jeremy McNichols has experience with Arthur Smith's system. We'll wait and see how Williams works out. There are more backs than there are roster spots available at the position, but that's not a bad problem. Keep the best. Move on from the others and try to find long-term solutions. That's the goal at every spot. No one outside Patterson is a lock for significant playing time. They'll have to go earn it.
Justin J from Covington, Ga.
What's up bro! With the defensive talent in next year's class being very good (Tim Anderson!), what type of production do you think Ridder has to have in order for the Falcons to not go QB next year? 3000 yds. 25 TDs and < 12 int?
Bair: I don't think it's a statistical thing, Justin. I think it's a confidence factor that can't be quantified. I also think it matters if the Falcons are draft inside or outside the top 5.
I will also say that I get your grander point. What would cause the Falcons to pass on quarterbacks in next year's draft or in free agency? Before we deal only with Ridder, let's not forget that Marcus Mariota's only 28 and could be a long-term answer as well. Early impressions of Ridder are positive, both in his arm and his demeanor. The dud just gets it. I think two things happen: Mariota plays the whole season because he's playing well, and they're more likely to stand pat because of him. – OR – Ridder plays a string of games near season's end and inspires enough confidence for the Falcons to focus on other positions.
I hate to keep offering caveats here, but I'll add another. If they're picking first and can pick between C.J. Stroud or Bryce Young or someone they consider a generational/transcendent talent, they're going to pick that guy no matter how they feel about in-house option.
Jim Bob from No
Fart! just wanted to give u a laugh 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂
Bair: Well, your mission was accomplished, Jim Bob. I did laugh, and then immediately showed my wife. Since we're dealing with some kid-level humor here, let me pass along my four-year old's favorite joke [which is told to me, in a cute little-girl voice, 5-7 times per day]:
"You can pick your friends,
and you can pick your nose,
but you can't pick your friend's nose."
Call for questions
We've got a Memorial Day mailbag coming, even though it's a holiday. Submit your questions right here for inclusion in that Monday mailbag.
Falcons Final Whistle | A Postgame Podcast
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Welcome to Falcons Final Whistle – an Atlanta Falcons football postgame podcast during the season that shifts gears in the offseason to answer a pressing question about the team's future each week through free agency, the NFL Draft and the offseason program.