Falcons pick Florida TE Kyle Pitts at No. 4 in NFL draft


ATLANTA — The Atlanta Falcons decided not to pick their quarterback of the future, going for more immediate help by selecting Florida tight end Kyle Pitts at No. 4 in the NFL draft on Thursday night.

Coming off a third straight losing season, the Falcons had their highest pick since Matt Ryan was chosen at No. 3 in 2008.

With so many highly rated quarterbacks, there was plenty of speculation that Atlanta might go with Ryan’s eventual successor. Instead, they added a 6-foot-6, 246-pound player who gives the 35-year-old quarterback another dynamic weapon in an offense that already has receivers Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley.

“I’ve been waiting for that call my whole life,” Pitts said. “I can’t wait to get o Atlanta.”

Pitts was the first pick for the Falcons’ new leadership team — general manager Terry Fontenot and coach Arthur Smith.

They passed on the chance to make this the first draft in which the top four picks were quarterbacks.

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence went to the Jacksonville Jaguars with the No. 1 overall choice, while the New York Jets next chose BYU signal-caller Zach Wilson.

The first drama came at No. 3, a spot the San Francisco 49ers acquired in a blockbuster deal with Miami ahead of the draft. While Alabama’s Mac Jones was pegged by many as the likely choice, the 49ers went with Trey Lance from FCS school North Dakota State.

With Lance off the board, the Falcons decided this was not the time to line up a succession plan for the post-Ryan era. They went with Pitts instead of Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, a native of suburban Kennesaw who played his first college season at Georgia.

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