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Bair Mail: On helping Grady Jarrett and fixing the pass rush, trading up to get Jalen Carter or Will Anderson, Kyle Pitts and more

We also discuss getting a win vs. NFL Draft positioning in this Friday mailbag

The Falcons still have a game ahead on Sunday against Tampa Bay, one that doesn't matter much in the grand scheme. Atlanta has been eliminated from playoff contention and the Bucs have wrapped up the NFC South.

The Falcons are committed to winning another game and, as Grady Jarrett puts it, maximizing every football opportunity. While the players are locked into the present, most of you are already focused on what comes next. And that's okay.


It's hard to blame you, considering the Falcons have tons of cap space and quality draft capital available this offseason. For the first time in the Terry Fontenot/Arthur Smith era, the Falcons can be aggressive if they so choose. We could see lots of action. And that would be fun.

Let's get to your questions about the future, one that includes Kyle Pitts returning to full health, in this Friday Bair Mail.

Antwon Dauzart from Atlanta

Hey man hope all is well. I think as a fan we can all agree our biggest priority is finding a bonafide pass rusher. Nothing more frustrating when we blitz we don't get home. We get glimpses here and there but not in moments where it's needed most. Carter and Ebiketie have been effective at times but with Grady getting doubled teamed on nearly every play someone else has to win. Free Agency this year doesn't really offer any high end options imo, correct me if I'm wrong, so I'm guessing we lean to the draft again for results.

Bair: I agree with you, Antwon, that the Falcons have to fix their pass rush. I also agree that Grady Jarrett becomes a game wrecker when he gets some help along the defensive front. They have a solid complimentary piece in TaQuon Graham. I think Arnold Ebiketie can be a quality pass rusher with continued development.

But there's little argument that the Falcons need more depth and, maybe more importantly, they need real dynamic talent.

Head coach Arthur Smith made no secret of that in his Monday press conference, stating that the pass rush would be addressed. Dean Pees mentioned needing edge rushers who can win one-on-one battles. That need still exists today. When discussing the prospect of finding impactful pass rushers, he said the Falcons have an additional way of acquiring one. Last year it was just through the draft. Now the Falcons have enough cap space to go get one in free agency if they choose. Because of that and the previous state of the pass rush, this was always going to be a multi-year fix.

They have some quality in Ebiketie, and DeAngelo Malone is an intriguing sub-package if he develops and puts on a little weight, but they need more. That could mean a high first-round pick and a veteran. We'll have to get into names more down the road, but there's more quality there than you think, both off the edge and from the inside.

Will Smith from Summerville, Ga.

Hi, Scott. Is there any chance in the world that the Falcons trade up in the draft to go after Will Anderson from Alabama or Jalen Carter from UGA? I'm thinking no way, Terry values draft picks too much, but these two guys could turn a good defense into a great one almost overnight. Your thoughts?

Bair: I agree with you, Will, in thinking that Jalen Carter and Will Anderson won't be available when the Falcons pick, even if they end up at No. 6, the highest draft slot they can occupy.

Moving up within the top 5 gets very expensive, likely cost prohibitive even from inside the top 10. I love both of those prospects. I mean, who doesn't? Analysts say pass rushers are plentiful in this draft, with some real quality available as the first round progresses. I keep seeing Clemson's Myles Murphy mocked to the Falcons and he's an intriguing prospect at 275 pounds, but I digress.

Draft capital is so vital to Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith, as you say, and I'd have a tough time imagining they trade up to take a player at a position with tons of quality in the first round and beyond.

Mike S. from Calgary, Alberta, Canada

I was all geared up to rage about the Falcons annual tradition of winning games that don't matter and ruining the draft spot when I read Tori's article and she talked me out of it! So I'll switch gears - I think taking Pitts at 4 was the wrong pick and one that still divides the fan base.

Bair: You aren't alone in having Tori convince you to change your mind about something, Mike. Her football takes are legit and I often merge with her line of thinking (or we already share one), though I'm never joining her musical obsessions no matter how hard she tries. I'm the opposite of a Swiftie, man. 90s rock forever!

Now on to Kyle Pitts. You inquired about the prospect of a trade in a part of the question that was cut. No way, no how. Can't see that. Kyle Pitts is a unique, dynamic talent who will have an excellent career if he's regularly healthy.

The Falcons passing game as missed him and will be thrilled when he returns to full health. And, I'm sure I'll upset a section of the fan base when I say this, but I'd take Pitts of Justin Fields 10 times out of 10. But that's just me.

Gary Aicher from Virginia Beach, Va.

Hey Bair, first time writer but long term reader. Seen so much about how we should lose out for a better draft pick and for the last game of the season, I say NO WAY! We need to go on a statement game and crush the Bucs and most importantly Tom Brady. The Falcons have never beaten him and we need to rid ourselves of that demon. The Falcons demise started with him in the Super Bowl, and it needs to end starting this weekend. On to my question…What say you, agree or disagree?

Bair: Always appreciate first-time submissions, Gary. Welcome to the Bair Mail crew. The wins vs. NFL Draft positioning debate is always prevalent among teams eliminated from the playoffs. Arthur Smith addressed the topic a last week, which you can read about right here.

One point of disagreement here: I don't think Tom Brady or beating the Bucs specifically has anything to do with it. I don't think taking momentum into the offseason matters much, either. That doesn't last. The Falcons just want to see improvement in all phases. That would be most evident in a win.

I understand the need for higher draft picks. They equate to greater trade value and better opportunity to land the player you want. The other side of it: I just can't tell imagine someone putting their body on the line, with 17 opportunities to play the game they love, ever okay with losing. You can't position a team in any way except with the best chance to win. Then you let the chips fall where they may.

The guys put in the work in Flowery Branch to prepare for this week's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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