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2013 NFL Mock Draft: Could Falcons still target a tight end in the 1st?

In spite of the news that Tony Gonzalez will return for another season, should the Falcons still draft a tight end if the right one is available? Here's how it could happen.

Jonathan Daniel

The Atlanta Falcons had to prepare themselves for the possibility that they would need to replace future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez after the season was over. Gonzalez had mentioned several times that retirement was a strong possibility after 16 seasons in the NFL, so mock drafts consistently took that into account early on before Gonzalez decided to come back for at least one more year. Once he did that, experts softened on the idea of Atlanta drafting a tight end in the first round.

But not all of them have.

Though Gonzalez is definitely coming back for the 2013 season, he has also strongly suggested that it will be his last. Even though he was saying the same tune a year ago, it seems like this is an even more serious announcement that he does not have much desire to go in for an 18th season. Given that information, the Falcons could still use this opportunity to find their tight end for the next decade if the right one is available.

The right one was available in the mock draft of Rob Rang on CBS Sports recently. Rang had Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert, the top-rated player at his position, falling to the Falcons at 30:

Convincing Tony Gonzalez to return for his 17th season in the NFL certainly allows the Falcons to look at other positions with this pick but if Eifert remains on the board this late, the team would be wise to look toward the future. The 2012 Mackey Award winner boasts the talent to be drafted earlier but the depth at tight end this year could push teams to address other concerns in the first round.

If Eifert is available when the Falcons pick in the first round, he certainly makes sense for Atlanta. Even if Gonzalez is coming back, he has proven that the tight end position is important for this offense and also shown that it is unlikely he will be there in 2014.

Just because the current guy is still here, there is still room for the next guy.

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Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.