This day has been filled with moves for the Atlanta Falcons, but they saved the wildest one for the early afternoon. Atlanta’s just moved its 2nd rounder (assuming theirs, not New England’s) and 5th round picks in 2020 for Baltimore Ravens tight end Hayden Hurst and a 4th rounder.
UPDATE: D. Orlando Ledbetter reports it’s New England’s 2nd, which does help me feel better about this.
I had seriously considered that the Falcons might trade for a tight end, but I hadn’t expected them to part with quite so much draft capital or go after someone like Hurst. Atlanta’s decided to swing for the fences by getting a young player on a rookie deal, even if it cost them picks to do it.
What are the Falcons getting with Hurst? Over his two seasons, Hurst has hauled in 43 catches for 512 yards and 3 touchdowns, which is not inspiring production. He has had to share the field with Mark Andrews and Pro Football focus gave him an excellent grade for last year, but obviously he’s not really been a full-time player as of yet, and the Falcons are projecting he can not only be one but play at a high enough level to justify giving up a 2nd rounder for him.
A solid if not spectacular blocker, Hurst’s primary function within this offense will be to catch passes, likely a lot of them. He was highly-touted coming out of college for his athleticism and excellent hands, and last year he had a sterling 76.9% catch rate and didn’t drop a single pass. The Falcons will have taken a hard look at all of that and determined that as the featured tight end in an offense, he can truly shine.
The Falcons will have Hurst for cheap the next two seasons and then will have the option for a fifth-year option in 2022, which was likely a major part of the appeal. He and Jaeden Graham—plus either a mid-round draft selection or an affordable veteran, we don’t know which yet—figure to make up the next Falcons tight end corps. His talent is intriguing enough, but this feels like a steep price, and we’ll need to see if he can live up to his potential in Atlanta.