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2018 NFL Draft: WR Dante Pettis worked out for Falcons

Pettis could be Taylor Gabriel replacement the team needs.

Montana v Washington Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

With 2018’s Atlanta draft visits and workouts a thing of the past, the Falcons will now survey their draft board and decide who they most want of the guys they’ve scouted.

Though, we may still see a few unreported visits, workouts and meetings filter through the cracks to give us a fuller picture of what the team may be thinking heading into draft weekend.

One such workout has emerged, and it’s an enticing name to bubble up this late in the process.

Washington WR Dante Pettis is one of the best slot receivers in this year’s draft, and doubles as a dangerous return man. Our draft expert Kevin Knight wrote about Pettis’ prospects for the Falcons in his scouting report last month.

The Falcons are in need of a good WR3 with Taylor Gabriel exiting in free agency and a lot of question marks behind him on the depth chart. Justin Hardy is probably best served as the WR4, with Marvin Hall and Reggie Davis in competition for increased roles as rotational options this season. Adding a proven returner without spending in free agency would also be nice. Luckily, that prospect already exists in Washington’s Dante Pettis.

Pettis isn’t quite the athlete that Gabriel is, but he’s far more versatile. He’s polished and should have a relatively quick adjustment to the NFL, as his route tree and technical skill is already quite advanced. Pettis can line up anywhere and create separation at all levels of the defense, making him an ideal WR3 for an offense like the Falcons’. The fact that he’s one of the best returners in college football is just icing on the cake.

I don’t know that Pettis has the WR2 ceiling of someone like Tre’Quan Smith, but Pettis should be able to contribute early in his rookie season and still offers high-level WR3 ability. His versatility and special teams contributions make him valuable in many different ways even if he doesn’t quite offer the elite athletic ability of someone like Gabriel or the red-zone prowess of Smith. As a late Day 2 pick—most likely Atlanta’s third round selection—Pettis checks all the boxes and would instantly elevate the Falcons’ receiving corps.

That’s some lofty praise for the former Steve Sarkisian recruit, and those ties make you think Pettis might be pretty high up on Atlanta’s draft board. To be honest, that second-round pick feels like quite the mystery, and wide receiver could absolutely be in play there. Pettis should go sometime around the late-second or third rounds. It looks like both Kevin and Aaron Freeman, who’s linked to above, have had Pettis mocked to Atlanta at various points, and he’s been a name to pop up in the Falcoholic comments section as a desired target.

The Sarkisian connection and the obvious need in Atlanta’s offense might make Pettis one of the most thought-provoking pieces of news to come out of this cycle. That doesn’t mean he’s a lock to get picked, but a private workout for a guy with ties to the team is a thing that makes you go, “Hmmm...” Pettis could fill Gabriel’s void, and factor in with the return game, where the slot is open after Andre Roberts’ departure.

We’ve seen them look at highly-regarded slot guys like DaeSean Hamilton and Keke Coutee, as well as some late-round prospects, so factor in wide receiver as a definite draft pick. Where that wideout will be picked, though, is up in the air.