FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Today's Early Bird Report includes the Falcons' draft needs – with one position clearly at the top – as well as Rob Gronkowski's decision to return to the Patriots in 2018.
FALCONS HEADLINES FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY
*AJC: *The Falcons' biggest need is on defensive line
NFL teams have good reason to keep their draft plans tightly under wraps. Like the Coca-Cola secret formula, a team's strategy on draft night is closely guarded to give them as great an advantage as possible in landing their player.
Following that logic, it's pretty common for teams to use the media to muddy the waters by saying everything and nothing at the same time. In last week's pre-draft press conference, Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said there were players at "a number of positions" who could benefit the team at No. 26.
While there are several scenarios that could play out for Atlanta on Thursday night, *Atlanta Journal-Constitution *columnist Jeff Schultz believes it's clear the biggest need for the Falcons is at defensive tackle.
"But what they need more than anything is a defensive tackle," Schultz writes. "It's important to remember that while coach Dan Quinn admires many of his skilled players on his offense, he's a defense-first coach. He coached defensive linemen and later became a coordinator in Seattle; The Seahawks went to consecutive Super Bowls because they were physical and explosive on defense."
Schultz provided his ranking of team needs for the Falcons heading into the draft, and he had defensive tackle right up there at the top of the list, followed by wide receiver at No. 2. To see the rest of Schultz's list, click here.
Here are more articles for Falcons fans:
BIGGEST NEWS FROM AROUND THE NFL
NFL.com: Rob Gronkowski says he'll play for Patriots in 2018
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will suit up for New England for the 2018 season. The All-Pro announced his decision to play for the Patriots on Instagram Tuesday, ending months of speculation about his future following the team's Super Bowl loss.
When on the field, Gronkowski is among the most dominant tight ends in the NFL. He's been plagued by injuries throughout his career, however, a fact that added fuel to the speculation that he may leave football for another venture.
It appeared the Patriots were in danger of losing their offensive coordinator, Hall of Fame quarterback and All-Pro tight end at various points of the offseason. As of now, however, Josh McDaniels is back as the play-caller, Gronkowski is re-committed to the team and Tom Brady's agent, Don Yee, recently stated his belief that the quarterback will play in 2018.
Here are some more articles from around the league:
- NFL.com: Callaway's agent confirms diluted sample at combine
- CBS Sports: Andrew Luck practices for the first time
- The Ringer: 2018 NFL Draft roundtable