Who is Falcons QB of the future?
By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)
Times are changing in Atlanta for the Falcons. They have started the process of moving on from the “Matt Ryan Era” and into a new future. Two major moves were made by the organization this offseason to indicate that the time has come to move forward. First, they hired a brand new head coach in Arthur Smith, who is a young and innovative offensive-minded coach. A move like this usually means a new QB is soon to follow and that is probably what will happen with the Falcons. They do not have a real replacement yet for the 36-year-old Matt Ryan, so that will likely be the number one focus in the 2022 NFL Draft.
The young options that they do have on the roster, Josh Rosen and Felipe Franks, are less than inspiring to say the least while AJ McCarron has proven to be no more than a solid backup in his career. When an organization brings in a young and exciting head coach, it only seems right to allow him to seek out a young and exciting quarterback to pair with him. The Draft is the best place to do that, especially considering the Falcons will likely have a top 10 pick this year. The rebuild has already started, and is signaled by the second major move they made this offseason. That is of course trading their superstar wide receiver, and probably the best WR in the NFL over the last decade, in Julio Jones. All of that being said, here is who the Falcons can target at QB in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma
Oklahoma and the Lincoln Reilly offensive system have been a factory for quarterbacks in recent years, producing first overall picks and Heisman Trophy winners in Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield. Next up is Spencer Rattler and he has all of the tools to follow in their footsteps. He is the preseason favorite to win the Heisman Trophy and is projected to have a huge season with the Sooners. He had a solid 2020 season passing for 3031 yards and 28 touchdowns while also rushing for an additional six touchdowns. He is a very high upside prospect, especially coming from this program that has proven they can develop NFL-ready quarterbacks. If Rattler lives up to his expectations he very well may command the first overall pick in the draft, which is unlikely to be the Falcons pick. If he falls a bit, or Atlanta trades up, Rattler would be a very intriguing pairing for head coach Arthur Smith.
Malik Willis, Liberty
Willis is an incredible athlete with extreme raw talent and has some of the highest upside of any player in the entire country. He fits the modern-day style of NFL quarterback with his true dual-threat ability. In the 2020 season, he threw for 2250 yards with 20 touchdowns and added an additional 944 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground. Of course, playing at Liberty means that he is not exactly going against the toughest of competition, but those types of numbers are extremely impressive regardless. Arthur Smith is a creative offensive mind and a talent like Willis would open up endless possibilities for schemes and designs. It would be an exciting opportunity for Smith and an ideal situation for Willis, especially considering the Falcons have a reputation for being very patient with the growth of their coaches and key players. If all things play out the way they “should” than this is an ideal match.
Sam Howell, North Carolina
In two seasons as the starting quarterback for the Tar Heels, Howell has passed for 7227 yards with 68 touchdowns and only 14 interceptions. Many scouts believe that he is the best pure pocket passer available with the best arm talent in the country. While he is less dangerous with his legs than some of the other quarterback options, he is still mobile enough to roll out of the pocket and make things happen on the move. He has the “typical build for a quarterback” at 6’1 and 220 pounds with elite accuracy and very respectable throwing power. He is still only 20 years old so he can realistically still get even bigger and can definitely improve his game and raise his rating as a prospect even higher than it already is. Like Rattler, Howell is an early candidate for the Heisman and for the first overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Arthur Smith would be excited to work with Howell if he ends up in Atlanta.