ATLANTA — Arthur Smith's first draft as coach of the Atlanta Falcons helped to prove he's taking an even-keeled approach to building the roster.
Sure, the first pick for Smith, the former Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator and tight ends coach, was a tight end.
But after Florida's Kyle Pitts was the No. 4 overall selection, Smith and first-year general manager Terry Fontenot made sure to pay attention to the Falcons' defense as well.
"It's fun to be a part of it," Smith said. " It's fun to have to get to worry about the whole team."
The proof came Saturday, when four of the Falcons' final six picks were defensive players: cornerbacks Darren Hall of San Diego State and Avery Williams of Boise State and defensive linemen Ta'Quon Graham of Texas and Ade Ogundeji of Notre Dame.
Overall, five of the nine picks in the draft came on defense.
"The cool thing about Arthur is that's his mindset," Fontenot said of Smith's balanced emphasis.
The Falcons also drafted Stanford center Drew Dalman in the fourth round and Arizona State wide receiver Frank Darby in the sixth round.
On Friday, the Falcons targeted an obvious need by making hard-hitting Central Florida safety Richie Grant their second-round pick. Atlanta, faced with salary cap restrictions, lost veteran safeties Ricardo Allen, Damontae Kazee and Keanu Neal in free agency.
Versatile offensive lineman Jalen Mayfield of Michigan, who could compete at left guard, was added in the third round.
The Falcons didn't select a quarterback or running back. Each position needs depth even after the team signed free agent A.J. McCarron to serve as quarterback Matt Ryan's backup. Former Carolina Panthers backup Mike Davis appears to be a lock to open the season as the starter at running back.
Ryan has another weapon now in Pitts, who has already shown he knows his place as a rookie looking to fit in. Only 20 years old, he impressed the Falcons with his maturity as well as his unusual athleticism that allows him to play like a wide receiver at tight end.
The maturity immediately showed when Pitts, who wore No. 84 at Florida, saw veteran Cordarrelle Patterson had that number with the Falcons.
As a high-profile player, Pitts probably could have pushed the issue with Patterson. Instead, Pitts avoided a potentially awkward negotiation, a decision likely to earn respect in the locker room.
"He's a vet, so I didn't want to pay for that," Pitts said Saturday with a laugh while making his first visit to the Falcons' practice facility.
Pitts instead settled on No. 8, taking advantage of the NFL's new rule allowing single digits to be worn by players at more positions.
While Pitts offers another target for Ryan, protecting the quarterback is probably a bigger concern for the Falcons after the veteran was sacked a combined 131 times the past three seasons.
Dalman, who is 6-foot-3, 295 pounds, most prove his ability to handle bull rushers after fielding questions about his size during the draft process.
"It's definitely a natural thing to want to inquire about, but I feel really good about myself," he said. "I'm confident in my abilities and I think I'm going to do well."
He could compete with 2020 third-round pick Matt Hennessy, also listed at 295 pounds, at center after the Falcons lost Alex Mack in free agency.
Dalman's father, Chris, started 64 games in seven seasons as a center and guard for the San Francisco 49ers from 1993 to 2000 and was the Falcons' assistant offensive line coach in 2005-06, providing young Drew, then in elementary school, an opportunity to have his first look at his future NFL home.
"I definitely remember running around those fields, probably causing a little mischief," he said. "I have great memories of being around the facility there and being around the team."
Williams counts as a defensive player, but he is an accomplished return specialist and Smith said Williams also could be given a look on offense.
He had no scholarship offers and was a walk-on player at Boise State before developing into a third-team All-America selection as an all-purpose player. He led all Football Bowl Subdivision players in combined return yards while returning two punts and two kickoffs for touchdowns.
"I knew my work ethic would carry me far in my life," Williams said. "Being a walk-on is something I wouldn't change; definitely has motivated me."
Williams said special teams is "my passion."
"That's definitely what has driven me this far," he said, "and I'm looking to continue that."