Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE
The Falcons are still alive in the NFL playoffs, but looking ahead to the NFL Draft, Atlanta is projected to draft a tight end in the first round.
The 2013 NFL Draft is a distant afterthought in the mind of most Falcons fans as Atlanta prepares for the NFC Championship game this weekend, but looking ahead the Falcons are projected to draft a tight end to replace the retiring Tony Gonzalez.
In SB Nation's latest mock draft, Atlanta is slated to select Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert with the No. 32 pick. The Falcons' draft position isn't set yet, but they will pick between No. 29 and No. 32. Selecting Eifert would give the Falcons a natural replacement for Gonzalez, who has said he plans to retire at the end of this season.
The 6'6 Eifert proved to be one of the top receiving tight ends during his college career. He caught 50 passes for 685 yards as a senior, following up on his junior season which he caught 63 passes for 803 yards. A number of NFL Draft analysts have Eifert ranked as the No. 1 tight end prospect in the draft.
If Atlanta did draft Eifert, it would be the second straight time they have used their first round pick on a weapon for Matt Ryan. The Falcons did not have a first round pick in 2012, but selected wide receiver Julio Jones in the first round of the 2011 draft.