Will the Falcons Draft a QB?
By: Joe Pepe
The Atlanta Falcons had a dismal 2020 finishing the year with a 4-12 record placing them in the NFC South’s basement. This record earned them the fourth overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft. A top-five pick in the NFL can help turn a franchise back from a pretender to a contender if they choose the right talent. 2021 is the Falcons’ first top-10 pick since 2015 and their first top-five pick since they drafted current quarterback Matt Ryan at No. 3 back in 2008. Atlanta has draft past Hall of Farmers with their top-five picks (Claude Humphrey & Deion Sanders). The question is can the Falcons pull this same feat off in 2021?
Option Number One
Draft A Quarterback
There are quite a few directions the Falcons could pursue come draft day. The team does have Matt Ryan, but could the Falcons lean towards drafting a quarterback of the franchise’s future? Matt Ryan is nearly impossible to cut because of his $50 million dead cap hit if released. However, the Falcons could draft a player that needs a year or two to develop before taking over under center for the Falcons.
One of the more prominent names rumored to head to the Falcons is BYU quarterback Zach Wilson. Trey Lance is another prospect linked to the Falcons’ future. Since Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields are heading towards the number one and two picks in the NFL draft, these two options could be available for the Falcons at the fourth pick.
Lance has a developmental project label for any team he heads to in this draft and could be the perfect project to sit behind Matt Ryan for a year. Next year, Ryan’s contract only creates a cap hit of $26 million. $26 million is a manageable dead cap hit to allow the Falcons to move on from an aging (37 at that point) quarterback.
Option Number Two
Upgrade The Defense
Ryan’s contract set up for a significant cap hit if released, and talent in the wide receiver and tight ends with: Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Hayden Hurst. The Falcons could look to give this offense one last hurrah as a unit before rebuilding. Looking to improve Ryan’s team, the Falcons could look to add to their desperate need on defense. This passing unit was the worst in the league giving up 293 yards per game and 344 yards over their last three contest.
Some of the rookies in the NFL draft that are on display are Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley, Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II, and even Carolina corner Jaycee Horn. Another route the Falcons could pursue is trading for a cornerback within the NFL. One of the more talented corners in the league, Stephon Gilmore, could be on the move and looking for a new franchise.
Option Number Three
Trade Back In The Draft
While the Falcons could use a pass rusher, a cornerback, a younger quarterback, some interior lineman, and a slew of other talents to propel this franchise, perhaps the Falcons’ best move is to move back in the NFL Draft. Acquiring more draft capital would allow for the Falcons to initiate their rebuilding phase correctly. This scenario most likely plays out if the Falcons are not keen on any of the young quarterbacks available at the fourth pick. They could move with a plethora of teams looking for their future star at the quarterback position.
The Atlanta Falcons are a team in flux. Their franchise could try to give it one more try under the new head coach, Arthur Smith. Rebuilding could also be in the cards for this franchise. Allowing their new head coach to bring in the players he deems fit best for his regime.
What do you think the Atlanta Falcons will do with the fourth overall selection? Let us know your thoughts by tweeting to us at @profootballman1