With the frenzy of free agency, the draft and a lot of drama in the rearview for the Falcons, they’re setting about doing the quietly important work of tinkering with the bottom of the 90 man roster and adjusting team personnel. That includes a player development department promotion and hiring, as well as additions to the personnel department.
The most recognizable name on this list will likely be Kevin Cone, the team’s new player affairs coordinator. An undrafted free agent out of Georgia Tech back in 2011, Cone played in 29 games with the Falcons over the course of three seasons, managing one regular season catch for 12 yards and 10 special teams tackles. He also reeled in a 49 yard touchdown grab in the 2012 preseason and was one of of the few undrafted receivers with any hype to actually stick with the Falcons in the Mike Smith era. In his post-playing career, Cone has now spent the past four seasons as Georgia Tech’s assistant director of football operations, and brings his experience as a player and in that role back to Atlanta. It’s good to have him back.
In addition to Cone joining the team, the Falcons made a major promotion in their player development department. Brynlee Forik has been promoted to director of player development after spending the past four seasons in the role Cone is taking on, and will be asked to take on the work of Kevin Winston, who was let go after spending over a decade in Atlanta.
In the personnel department, the changes involve new hires and a lot of movement. They added Rob Kisiel as a senior pro scout after he spent 16 years with the Texans and overlapped with new Falcons cap guru Chris Olsen, including four years as the director of pro personnel there. They also added Benjamin Martinez as a BLESTO (which stands for Bears, Lions, Eagles and Steelers Talent Organization) scout after he spent 12 years with the Saints overlapping with general manager Terry Fontenot. In that role, Martinez will work with BLESTO, which is Atlanta’s outside scouting organization and whose scouts generally focus on the next year’s draft class. For example, in the runup to the 2022 NFL Draft, Martinez may be looking hard at the 2023 class to determine who the Falcons should be scouting when the college football season kicks off in the fall.
In addition to the new hires, the Falcons moved Phil Emery and Ruston Webster to senior personnel executive roles, promoted regional scouts Michael Ross and Tokunbo Abanikanda to national scout positions, and will have Steve Sabo serve as pro director. Shepley Heard, Joel Collier and Dante Fargnoli will all serve as regional scouts.
These were the kinds of moves we figured we’d see sometime this summer, as the Falcons didn’t have time to re-shuffle every personnel position formally before the draft with Terry Fontenot and company focusing on solving the team’s cap crunch, signing players and preparing for the draft. Hopefully they’re all prominent parts of a resurgent Falcons team, both now and in the future.