It was only a matter of time before Atlanta’s interest in general manager candidates turned to interviews, and apparently the day has arrived. The team has posted a story indicating that they’ve interviewed two candidates, one with a long and rich experience with the Falcons, and the other with long and rich experience as an NFL general manager.
Let’s start with the in-house candidate first. Anthony Robinson has been involved in personnel for the Falcons for the past 13 years, per the team, starting as a scouting assistant, working his way up to a regional scout for the Southern and Eastern portions of the United States before securing the director of college scouting role in 2019. It’s always difficult to know who to give credit to for the team’s draft successes, but it is worth noting that the Falcons have had back-to-back quality draft classes, snagging Chris Lindstrom, Kaleb McGary, Kendall Sheffield, and John Cominsky a year ago, and nabbing A.J. Terrell, Mykal Walker, and Sterling Hofrichter this year, with guys like Marlon Davidson and Matt Hennessy still having real potential.
It’s fair to suggest that Robinson is a long shot candidate for the job, given Atlanta’s obvious desire to start fresh, but I’m glad the team is at least interviewing an experienced candidate who has had a role in the team’s (relative) success over the past decade-plus.
Smith, meanwhile, is going to be one of the offseason’s hottest candidates. The longtime Texans general manager and executive vice president of football operations was not perfect—the name Brock Osweiler is going to come up in the comments, I can sense—but he mostly put together strong draft classes in his time running the time, drafting some of the team’s brightest lights from J.J. Watt to Deshaun Watson. He’s my personal preferred candidate for the role, given that experience and success, but the Lions have already interviewed him and teams like the Jets, Jaguars, and others are going to be looking at him too. We’ll see if Atlanta thinks he’s the right fit and pounces, given that they have one of the more interesting openings around the league even if Rich McKay’s involvement in the team’s power structure is viewed as a potential issue.
We’ll see if Robinson or Smith proves to be the guy for Atlanta, but any worthwhile GM search will have many more names on it. The weeks ahead should illuminate just how large this candidate list is for the Falcons.