Skip to main content

Early Bird Report: Hayden Hurst found strength in weakness

New Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst is looking to do big things in Atlanta, but he's already had a journey that's made him the man he's become. In a very compelling piece for The Players' Tribune, Hurst details the lowest point of his life and how he's grown stronger as a result. He briefly mentions the Falcons and the next chapter of his NFL career towards the bottom of the story, but that is far from what this is really about.


"I'm heading into my third year in the NFL," Hurst writes. "After three seasons at South Carolina, the Ravens drafted me in the first round in 2018. Now I'm an Atlanta Falcon. I couldn't be more excited to be a part of this organization, but I will also be forever grateful to Baltimore. The Ravens took a chance on me, and I hope I helped build something that will last a long, long time in that city."

This is an important story for any Falcons fan to read, and you can find it here.

ESPN: NFL power rankings factoring in free agency

Free agency has shaken up the NFL landscape and brought some big names to the NFC South. The Falcons landed some of those big names with Dante Fowler and Todd Gurley heading to Atlanta.

How have those moves impacted the way members of the national media view the Falcons? ESPN's post-free agency power rankings had Atlanta dropping two spots from the site's previous "Way-too-early" rankings, and the Falcons currently sit at No. 18.

"Three words: Something to prove," ESPN's Vaughn McClure writes. "The Falcons added four former first-round draft picks in Todd Gurley, Dante Fowler Jr., Hayden Hurst and Laquon Treadwell, and all four have to show they can play up to their first-round talent. Gurley is the one fans are excited about the most, and he certainly wants to answer questions about his left knee and his ability to be a productive back. The Falcons, as a whole, have to prove they can compete in a revamped NFC South now featuring Tom Brady."

To read the rest of ESPN's post-free agency power rankings, click here.

Here are some other articles for Falcons fans to check out today: Top 5 needs for all 32 teams

Although the Falcons may still make a few more moves in free agency, the NFL Draft now looms as the best way for them to add impactful talent to their roster. Atlanta addressed a few needs during the first wave of free agency, and it's shifted what the team's remaining needs are heading into the draft. editor Dan Parr broke down the top five needs for each team, and he had defensive back, linebacker, edge rusher, offensive lineman and running back listed for the Falcons, in that order.

"Yes, defense is the topic for the Falcons this draft season," Parr writes. "They're in the market for a starter opposite Isaiah Oliver at corner (insurance at safety for the oft-injured Keanu Neal wouldn't be a bad idea, either) and Deion Jones could use some running mates at 'backer. The work of jump-starting the edge rush shouldn't end with the addition of Dante Fowler. As for Atlanta's offense, the starting O-line could remain intact, but depth is needed. And Todd Gurley, even if he returns to top form, can't be considered a long-term answer (he's playing on a one-year deal)."

To read the rest of Parr's list, click here.

AJC: Hurst hopes to flash his talents for Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons have a new tight end in Hayden Hurst who is very reminiscent of their old tight end, Austin Hooper. Hurst, a former first-round pick with the Baltimore Ravens, has many of the same qualities that helped Hooper become a star in his final two seasons in Atlanta.

Although Hurst didn't have much production as a receiver in Baltimore, he was effective in the passing game when called upon. Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter has always had a scheme that offers plenty of opportunities for tight ends, and Hurst is looking forward to playing in it.

"It's going to be a perfect fit," Hurst told D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "(Offensive coordinator Dirk) Koetter's pass-heavy offense is going to suit me well. It's going to allow me to do some things that I personally do well (like) stretch the field vertically and hopefully create some mismatches for the other guys, Julio and Calvin. I saw where they've picked up Laquon Treadwell as well. It's a pretty potent offense. I'm just excited to be a part of it."

To read more of Ledbetter's article on what Hurst brings to Atlanta, click here.

Pro Football Focus: Best and worst moves made

The analysts at Pro Football Focus are evaluating each move made by NFL teams during free agency, and they've determined the best and worst moves made so far. For the Falcons, PFF appears to be very high on the trade for tight end Hayden Hurst.

"With losing Austin Hooper, Atlanta traded away 2020 second- and fifth-round picks to the Ravens for 2018 first-round pick Hayden Hurst and a 2020 fourth-round pick," PFF's Anthony Treash writes. "This is a solid move made on Atlanta's part and honestly might even be an upgrade over Hooper considering what the Browns paid him. One of Hooper's flaws was his ability to win in single coverage, and that's an area where Hurst has thrived in. He owns a two-year receiving grade in single coverage that ranks eighth at his position."

To see the move PFF believes to be the Falcons' worst thus far in free agency, click here.

ESPN: NFL free agency grades

As NFL free agency continues to roll along, ESPN's Bill Barnwell is providing grades for each move. For each of their three major moves this offseason – the additions of Todd Gurley, Dante Fowler and Hayden Hurst – Barnwell gives the Falcons a "C+" grade, which is not out of line from most of his grades for free agency moves.

"The Falcons desperately needed a lead pass-rusher after waiting for Vic Beasley to return to form and then letting him walk this offseason," Barnwell writes of Atlanta's reported signing of Fowler. "Fowler should be an upgrade on Beasley, albeit at a more expensive cost. If we assume that two of the three years in this deal are guaranteed, which is pretty typical, the Falcons are paying for Fowler to repeat the production from last season over each of the next two seasons. He is capable of doing that."

To see the rest of Barnwell's grades from NFL free agency, click here.

The Atlanta Falcons traded with the Baltimore Ravens for tight end Hayden Hurst. Hurst was a 2018 first-round draft pick by the Ravens. Check out these photos of his career so far.

Related Content