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GM Terry Fontenot: Falcons 'Love' Tyler Allgeier - But Need 'Multiple' RBs

Atlanta Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot feels his team needs to keep adding to the running back position around Tyler Allgeier - but what will he value during that process this offseason?

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Atlanta Falcons had the third-best rushing attack in the NFL this past season at just under 160 yards per game, headlined by running back Tyler Allgeier setting a franchise rookie record with 1,035 yards on the ground.

But Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot wants more.

Not necessarily from Allgeier, a fifth-round pick out of Brigham Young who went from healthy scratch in Week 1 to the league's second-leading rookie rusher, but from the room as a whole.

Sure, the Falcons have veteran Cordarrelle Patterson, along with return specialist and converted defensive back Avery Williams and former undrafted free agent Caleb Huntley - but Fontenot has his sights set higher.

Speaking with reporters Tuesday ahead of the NFL Scouting Combine, Fontenot expressed confidence in Allgeier - but didn't commit to him as the long-term bell cow.

"Man, he's a good player, (but) you always need multiple at that position," Fontenot said. "I think having one running back and just carrying the ball all the time, I think that's kind of rare and unique for somebody. You need to have multiple running backs to preserve their career to take care of them.

"But man, we love Tyler, we love the work that he put in."

And, really, Fontenot and co. should - Allgeier became just the fourth rookie in franchise history to eclipse the 1,000 all-purpose yards mark, which he did in just 15 games, not a byproduct of the extended season.

The 22-year-old Allgeier finished the season on a high note, logging over 100 all-purpose yards in three of his last four games, with the lone omission being a 95-yard effort against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 17.

Entering the four-game stretch, Allgeier had yet to record a 100-yard rushing game ... but did so twice in that span, including a 135-yard effort in the season finale.

Perhaps most importantly, Allgeier proved he can do more than just run the rock - as early as Week 2, he drew praise from coach Arthur Smith for his dependability as a pass blocker, and proceeded to grow as a receiver, catching 16 passes (on 17 targets) for 139 yards and a score, with six of those as coming in that four-game stretch at season's end.

It's this well-rounded skill set and late-season surge that has created plenty of buzz around Allgeier - and while Fontenot is on board with that, he remains adamant that Atlanta will keep adding to the running backs room.

"He's such a smart, versatile player," Fontenot said. "He's a guy that's not just first and second down, but third downs, protection, he's smart, he can catch the ball, he could go play special teams on fourth down. And so, we love Tyler, but it's another position that we have to always add to."

The question then becomes who the Falcons add and how they go about doing it - the draft's top running back is former Texas star Bijan Robinson, who NFL Network draft expert Daniel Jeremiah said "wouldn't get laughs" if he were taken top-10.

But Atlanta isn't expected to target a running back at No. 8 overall, making this question of who all the more interesting. Jeremiah noted that he has 13 runners with third-round grades or better and the overall lack of value at the position means "starter-level players" could fall to the fourth or fifth round.

In essence, the talent is there, and the Falcons should have their choice of style - but which direction will they go?

On one hand, Atlanta could pursue someone with a contrasting style to Allgeier with the hopes of creating a thunder and lightning duo ... but on the other, Smith's rushing attack has operated at its best with bigger-bodied runners like the 5-11, 220-pound Allgeier.

Falcon Report asked Fontenot this specific question - and the answer seems to be less about listed size and more about the intangible traits that fit within the team's foundation.

"We're not going to box ourselves in saying we just want specific things," Fontenot said. "We do have an identity and we believe we do have a foundation; we've seen some good things in the building. The thing that we really want to focus on bringing players in is making sure we're adding to the culture.

"And because we have a really strong culture, and we do things a certain way, we have an identity."

After spending much of the first two years building this culture and identity, it's easy to see why Fontenot puts such an emphasis on these qualities - even above the on-field product.

"We want to have cohesiveness with that," said Fontenot. "So, we want to make sure we're bringing in more so than skill sets the right types of players."

And by all accounts, the Falcons found an outstanding fit in both categories with the selection of Allgeier ... and are now admittedly hoping lightning strikes twice this offseason.

You can follow Daniel Flick on Twitter @DFlickDraft

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