Tony Gonzalez is unlikely to be fully replaced if he retires, but the 2013 NFL Draft offers up an opportunity to at least find a prospect that mimics his combination of size, athleticism, and pass-catching ability. Many mock draft pundits believe that the Atlanta Falcons will use their first round pick to fill the void that the retiring superstar might leave.
Todd McShay at ESPN believes Atlanta will pick Stanford tight end Zach Ertz with the 30th overall pick. Charles Davis and Gil Brandt of NFL.com agree with that prognostication. Ertz led the Cardinal in receiving his senior year, grabbing 69 passes for 898 yards and six touchdowns. He showed his athletic ability at the combine, running his 40-yard dash in the 4.6/4.7 range.
Not all agree that the Falcons will go with a tight end. SB Nation's Matthew Fairburn believes that Atlanta will add to the defensive line by grabbing Florida State rush end Tank Carradine. Fairburn believes that Carradine is the best pass rusher in the class and will fall to the Falcons because of injury concerns:
Tank Carradine said he will be able to run through a full workout for NFL teams prior to April's draft. If that happens and all goes well, Carradine will be a first round pick. Without concerns over the torn ACL he suffered in April, Carradine is the best pass rusher in this class. Atlanta will be in the market for a defensive end this offseason.
As for the rest of the NFL.com panel, Bucky Brooks and Daniel Jeremiah have completely different ideas on which direction Atlanta will go. Brooks believes the Falcons will pick Alabama running back Eddie Lacy, while Jeremiah has the team selecting cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson out of Connecticut.