Falcons add help at safety, select Central Florida’s Grant

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Falcons addressed a glaring need by selecting safety Richie Grant of Central Florida at No. 40 overall in the second round of the NFL draft on Friday night.

The cost-cutting Falcons lost veteran safeties Ricardo Allen, Keanu Neal and Damontae Kazee in free agency. The team added two possible 2021 starters by signing Erik Harris and Duron Harmon but needed to add long-term help in the draft.

Grant (6-0, 197) had 10 career interceptions and was a Thorpe Award finalist as one of the nation’s top defensive backs in 2020.

The Falcons selected Florida tight end Kyle Pitts with the No. 4 overall pick on Thursday night.

Atlanta swapped second-round picks with Denver, moving down five slots to No. 40 overall. The trade also included two picks on Saturday with the Falcons acquiring a fourth-round selection and sending the Broncos a sixth-rounder.

The Falcons entered the draft with no quarterback on their depth chart behind starter Matt Ryan, who will by 36 this season. That made quarterback a position of need in the draft as the team needs depth for this season and to develop a future replacement for Ryan.

Earlier Friday, the Falcons addressed the depth issue at quarterback by signing free agent A.J. McCarron to a one-year deal. McCarron, a 2014 fifth-round draft pick from Alabama by Cincinnati, was a backup in Houston the last two seasons.

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