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Bair Mail: On helping Drake London and Kyle Pitts, fixing Falcons defensive front, Brock Purdy and Troy Andersen

We dive into methods of helping pass rush via the NFL Draft and free agency in this Wednesday mailbag

We focused the last Bair Mail exclusive on quarterbacks. We'll go away from that this time and hit on some other areas of the roster that are in need of an upgrade.


I think we all know what those areas are. We'll discuss the passing game and the pass rush, plus some outside-the-box options in this Wednesday mailbag.

Let's skip the long intro and get right to your questions:

Frank Hodo from Rockville, Maryland

I think London and Pitts will be studs in due time but the Falcons clearly need more juice on offense. Under the assumption that Smith and Fontenot give Ridder an audition year, when and/or where do you think they address the offensive needs?

Bair: Arthur Smith was clear in one of the season's final press conference, probably what he and others considered a statement of the obvious. The Falcons must get help rushing the passer and they have to become more explosive on offense.

He's dead right on both accounts. The Falcons can run the ball. With continuity at play caller, running back and most of the offensive line, there's high confidence they'll be able to run the ball well next season, too.

They need to become a vertical threat. They need to become more dynamic in the passing game. Part of that is figuring the quarterback situation out. I still think the Falcons need more firepower. Kyle Pitts will be back. Drake London could be even better. Cordarrelle Patterson will figure into this equation, too. The receiver corps isn't deep enough or dynamic enough. They should address the position with a veteran and a draft pick, to round the offense out and provide weapons required to make like easier on the passer.

Tom Wilbur from Scranton, Penn.

With all the QB talk lately I'm interested in getting your take on some other positions. So, assuming Ridder and a mid-level camp competition that can start or be a high-level backup signing at QB where do you see most of the attention going and do you think FA or the draft will get us the best talent? I feel the trenches are the most pressing needs atm, but we know that CB and WR are unsettled past the clear 1's. Do you see better fixes in FA or the draft?

Bair: I think the defensive front needs a major overhaul. They need talent and depth there. I would add top-tier players at defensive line and edge rusher. It seems like there are better interior defensive linemen in free agency, with top talents like Javon Hargrave, Daron Payne and Dalvin Tomlinson coming available if they aren't tagged.

Analysts say this is an incredibly deep draft for edge rushers with some significant talent at the top. If they could land Clemson's Myles Murphy at No. 8, or another edge rusher they like, they'd feel a lot better about their defense.

I know cornerback is a need, but I don't think it's pressing. Not with Casey Hayward still under contract. You could draft and develop someone from a later round.

The Falcons might have a right tackle issue if Kaleb McGary leaves in free agency. That might require a premium pick, because there isn't an existing talent ready to assume his role. That's something worth watching as we get into free agency.

David Ables from Anderson, S.C.

Following up on a question/answer, if the 49ers are not willing to move Trey Lance, would you check on Brock Purdy?

Bair: I think the only 49ers quarterback available in the market will be Jimmy Garoppolo. It sure seems like Brock Purdy is the favorite to be the 49ers starting quarterback. He got them to an NFC title game, at the very least. Can't imagine he's going anywhere. Trading Trey Lance after trading so much to get him seems highly unlikely as well, especially with their season proving why it's important to have multiple competent quarterbacks.

Tom Perry from Senoia, Ga.

What about utilizing Troy Andersen in the same role the Saints utilize Taysom Hill? Troy has experience in other positions in college. Watching both players, just felt It wouldn't hurt to give it a try in training camp. May surprise Coach Smith. Thank You!

Bair: You're right that Troy Andersen played tons of spots at Montana State, including quarterback, running back and edge rusher. He has played inside linebacker almost exclusively in the pros, though the Falcons started moving him around some as a blitzer.

We haven't seen him on offense at all, not even in an experimental phase during the offseason. That could happen in the future, considering this coaching staff's willingness to move players around. They've done that with Felipe Franks (from quarterback to tight end) and Avery Williams (cornerback to running back), so it's at least possible they would try some different things with Andersen.

I do think, however, that his primary position will be a three-down inside linebacker on defense.

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