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What Terry Fontenot, Raheem Morris said about Falcons future at 2024 NFL Combine

The new GM/HC duo talk short-term and long-term plans with league and local media. 

INDIANAPOLIS — The 2024 NFL Scouting Combine has commenced.

The Falcons have some large question marks to answer this offseason; one being what to do with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. On Tuesday morning, Falcons general manager Terry Fonetonot and new head coach Raheem Morris addressed some of those looming questions with the local and national media.

Here's a quick look at some of the most interesting talking points Falcons general manager and head coach had on the first day of the combine.


Falcons will continue to lean on existing formula of drafting the best players available

Last season the Falcons picked running back Bijan Robinson at No. 8 overall not because they were in desperate need at the position, but because Robinson's talent and personality aligned with what the Falcons wanted to build.

"It's about drafting the right guy, so a guy like Bijan, we believe he's the right player, the makeup, skill set, everything aligns," Fontenot said. "We don't get caught up into what the specific position is. We're just adding good football players."

Fontenot stressed that players like Robinson and safety Jessie Bates III are the type of players that fit that mold. He categorized them both as "multipliers," or players who make everyone one else better.

This strategy of acquiring players that don't necessarily fit the mold of what many would consider a Falcons need is a foundation the Falcons have stuck to since Fontenot was named the general manager in 2021. It's seen in move after move the organization has made over the years, from the aforementioned Bates and Robinson example, to the first-round draft picks of Kyle Pitts and Drake London. The Falcons didn't necessarily need a safety, running back, tight end or receiver when they picked up this group of playmakers, but you can't think about the current Falcons roster without these four. So, the Falcons are sticking to this thought process moving forward, too. 

Morris and Fontenot will try to get a sense of finding that type of player throughout all evaluations this week.

Texas running back Bijan Robinson and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell pose for a photo during the 2023 NFL Draft on Thursday, April 27, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Aaron Doster/NFL)

Pressure is on and all options are on the table when it comes to finding QB1

The Falcons could find their 2024 starting quarterback here at the combine, but that's just one pathway to acquiring their guy. Both Fontenot and Morris reiterated they have the flexibility to draft, sign or trade for the next quarterback of the franchise. 

The coach and general manager duo didn't shy away from the several questions asked about the position. They know the pressure's on, and they know the right quarterback could be the missing piece. 

"We know that's critical to get that position right, but it doesn't stop there," Fontenot said. "We have to get the right quarterback in and we have to improve this entire roster and get ready to roll this season."

Morris said the Falcons feel a "competitive urgency" this offseason to find their starting quarterback because of the talent currently on the roster. If the Falcons find the right signal caller they can be competitive really quickly.

"I'm not afraid to say we have the ability to go out and win next year," Morris said. "If we do some of the right things, some of the right moves — we can do that."

Grady Jarrett recovery update

Defensive lineman Grady Jarrett suffered a season-ending ACL injury on Oct. 29, the first major injury of his 10-year career. Since then he's been diligently rehabbing. Fontenot explained Jarrett has approached the process in typical Jarrett fashion, with a lot of heart and determination.

So much so that the defensive lineman is ahead of schedule in his recovery process, according to Fontenot. While the general manager didn't give a specific timeline, that's a good sign not even six months into the rehab process.

Now, it's more about balancing Jarrett's tenacity as he attacks this process.

"It's gonna be more so on holding him back," Fontenot said. "Even with Grady, we try to manage him and you hold him out of practices sometimes during the seasons and he's like a little kid pouting when you don't let him practice. That's just who he is."

Atlanta Falcons defensive lineman Grady Jarrett #97 reacts to Atlanta Falcons defensive lineman Calais Campbell #93 sack record during the Week 6 Game against the Washington Commanders at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia on Sunday, October 15, 2023. (Photo by Alex Slitz/Atlanta Falcons)

Falcons confident in Kyle Pitts

Just a few years ago, the Falcons were scouting tight end Kyle Pitts at the combine. They'd end up drafting him with the No. 4 overall pick, making him the highest drafted tight end in the modern football era. 

Now, they're looking for Pitts to take a large step in Year 4.

The tight end had an impressive showing in his rookie year with a surplus of 1,000-yards receiving, but a knee injury in his sophomore season kept Pitts from capitalizing on that second year in the league.

Even though Pitts played all 17 games in 2023, he was still battling that injury. Fontenot and the Falcons front office understood that Pitts fought through the season where he recorded over 600 yards and three touchdowns.

Now Pitts will have a full healthy offseason to set him up for his fourth season.

"We know that Kyle's gonna put in the work and get the most of himself," Fontenot said "We're very excited about Kyle and having a great offseason and a great year."

Atlanta Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts #8 lines up during the first quarter of the Week 18 Game against the New Orleans Saints at Caesars Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana on Sunday, January 7, 2024. (Photo by Brandon Magnus/Atlanta Falcons)

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