LSU's coaching staff could take a massive hit thanks to the NFL

Brian Kelly already lost his elite offensive coordinator to another job, and might just lose another...

Brian Kelly, LSU Tigers
Brian Kelly, LSU Tigers / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages
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This is supposed to be the Brian Kelly pop, yet why does everyone want to up and leave his LSU football family? There are varying reasons for this, but people really liked what the Bayou Bengals' offense was about a year ago. The Tigers averaged more points per game than anyone, as best illustrated by the sensational play of their Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, Jayden Daniels.

With Daniels turning pro and former LSU offensive coordinator/tight ends coach Mike Denbrock going back to Notre Dame to replace Gerad Parker on Marcus Freeman's staff, Kelly has a lot of moving pieces to sort out. He does retain Daniels' promising backup Garrett Nussmeier, as well as picking up former Vanderbilt starter A.J. Swann in the transfer portal. So who is going to coach them?

The idea was it would be a pair of co-coordinators in Joe Sloan being the play-caller and Cortez Hankton getting a promotion of sorts as well. That could and should work, in theory. However, Hankton is a serious candidate to get the Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator job on Raheem Morris' first staff in Flowery Branch. Atlanta is also looking at Zac Robinson following Morris over, too.

If Hankton were to be the guy in Atlanta, that not only hurts LSU, but probably means Daniels is going to be the guy the Falcons are targeting in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft. That would be dope!

Morris hiring Hankton would be controversial, but the move would certainly make LSU worse off.

Atlanta Falcons targeting Cortez Hankton off LSU staff to be their OC

Hankton played in the league in the 2000s. He has been primarily a wide receivers coach, most notably at LSU since 2022 and at Georgia during the early years of the Kirby Smart era. He left Athens for Baton Rouge after helping the Dawgs win their first national championship in 41 years back in 2021. Atlanta needs improved quarterback play, but it also needs more wide receiver versatility.

Because Morris is a former wide receivers coach as well, having been in the same state as Hankton from 2018 to 2020, I could see this potential partnership manifesting. Of course, Dirty Bird Nation really only cares about seeing the Falcons stop being such a great disappointment and start winning games. That starts and ends with improved quarterback play. Maybe Hankton can get them Daniels?

Of the quarterbacks potentially in play for the Falcons in the first round, Daniels is both the most exciting fit and the most likely target. He is QB3 in most prognosticators' eyes, meaning he could go as high as No. 3 to the New England Patriots, but probably no longer than the Falcons picking at No. 8. The Falcons already have a veteran backup and bridge starter in Taylor Heinicke in-house for this fall.

As far as LSU is concerned, I think this is a testament to how well Kelly is at identifying great coaches and more importantly, empowering them. Freeman may be the most notable branch off his coaching tree in the college game right now, but keep in mind that he had two best friend graduate assistants valet park cars for him while he was at Central Michigan: Matt LaFleur and Robert Saleh. Never forget.

Hankton to Atlanta could be a sign of what is to come for the Falcons, but at least y'all have Sloan.

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