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Falcons suggest they may still add a speedy back in 2020 NFL Draft

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All things old are made new again, and the Falcons want another Antone Smith.

Chicago Bears v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

The Falcons have a lot of running backs on the roster right now. Todd Gurley’s in the fold, joining Ito Smith, Brian Hill, Qadree Ollison and Craig Reynolds in the group. There’s enough talent there to fill a rotation pretty easily in that group, even if greatness for all is going to be heavily dependent on health.

There’s one element missing from the group, though, and that’s breakaway speed. Gurley isn’t as explosive as he once was, if last year is our guide, and while Ito and Hill are plenty fast, they’re not exactly speed backs. Traditionally Dirk Koetter has liked to have at least one player with that element in his game, even if he doesn’t always utilize that back a lot (I’m looking at you, Antone Smith).

That’s why it’s not surprising to hear Thomas Dimitroff suggest the team might snag one in late April.

It’s worth remembering the larger context here. Gurley is on a one-year deal, and if he truly rebounds this year, he won’t be remotely affordable for Atlanta in 2021. Hill is on one year pact as well, Smith will be heading into the final year of his contract next season, and this team will need to give Ollison a lot more work before I believe he’s a prominent part of their plans going forward. Adding a back in the middle-to-late rounds that you believe can be a prominent part of next year’s rotation and a useful change of pace back this year actually makes a lot of sense, especially because this is a quality class.

Who might they look at? This is far from an exhaustive list, but I’d keep an eye on Darrynton Evans from Appalachian State, Javon Leake from Maryland, and Raymond Calais from Louisiana-Lafayette, given that they certainly meet the “speed” prerequisite Dimitroff bandied about.

In summary, get comfortable with this idea sooner than later, especially if Atlanta’s willing to trade down on Day 2 or Day 3 to pick up more picks.