The Falcons just released a pretty slick short film on draft day in the team’s war room, and it’s worth watching both because it’s well put together and interesting, and because it shows us more behind-the-scenes facets of the team’s big decision to pick Kyle Pitts at #4.
First of all, head coach Arthur Smith apparently saw Trey Lance going to San Francisco well before the draft, as a laughing general manager Terry Fontenot claps him on the shoulder and says “you called it a month ago.” The mood in the room is not the mood you’d expect from a team devastated that they missed out on Lance, though obviously it’s possible to read further into that than we reasonably can from a short clip. The fact that they’re pumped to draft Kyle Pitts, though, is readily apparent, and reinforces that Pitts was a player they were going to be thrilled to get regardless of what happened in the first three picks.
Our future starts .— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) May 11, 2021
Take a behind-the-scenes look at the NFL Draft through Mini-Movie. pic.twitter.com/Z1z8Mfp7TT
The second piece is that the Lions apparently called while Atlanta was mulling their selection with an offer to move up, and Fontenot politely declined. It’s fair to assume that the Lions were after Pitts or a top receiver—they passed up on Justin Fields, after all, and unless they badly miscalculated they probably knew they’d have a shot at Penei Sewell at #7, where they ultimately grabbed him—but their offer wasn’t compelling enough to budge the Falcons off a player they loved. We’ll probably never know what that offer was.
It’s fun to continue to put pieces together for what’s likely to be a historic draft pick, either because Pitts is wildly successful or the other scenario I’m not going to even possibly jinx by entertaining it, and someday we might get a 2021 NFL Draft retrospective that fills in some of the unknowns regarding the team’s pecking order. If you weren’t already assured that the Falcons think Pitts can be special and have thought that for a long time, this video will only help.
But even if it raises more interesting questions than it answers, it’s an enjoyable watch. Ultimately, it’s cool to finally see that call between Pitts and the Falcons’ brain trust, including Fontenot, Smith and Blank, and his emotions after that call, as well as the calls to the rest of the team’s promising draft class. We get so bogged down in the day-to-day transactions and the big, lingering questions about how successful this team will be that maybe we forget that we’re in the midst of the biggest sea change this franchise has seen in well over a decade, and that they just drafted a player people keep calling a unicorn because of how unique his skills really are.
However they felt about the first three selections, the Falcons have made it clear that they believe Pitts is going to be a truly spectacular player, perhaps the kind of legend at his position that Julio Jones became after joining Atlanta in 2011. Now it’s all about ensuring that Pitts has every opportunity to turn that faith and his considerable talent into greatness.