For the past few weeks we’ve been working under the assumption that the Atlanta Falcons wouldn’t be taking a quarterback with that No. 4 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, but that may not be the case.
The Falcons restructured QB Matt Ryan’s contract and that sent a signal to those around the team that they were sold out to Ryan remaining a part of the organization for at least the next two seasons.
With Ryan’s contract on the books, most have made the assumption that it wouldn’t make sense to draft a quarterback to just sit behind him while the Falcons are clearly trying to ‘win now,’ but that’s not one report says.
Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer says the Atlanta Falcons are strongly considering drafting a quarterback with that No. 4 overall pick
Breer wrote that the Falcons have sent GM Terry Fontenot, Head Coach Arthur Smith and Offensive Coordinator Dave Ragone to several Pro Days and that the franchise has done its due diligence in looking at quarterbacks, including Trevor Lawrence, Mac Jones, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance and Justin Fields.
"“The Falcons, in fact, are considering three separate and very logical tracks: taking a quarterback, taking the best non-quarterback (Kyle Pitts?) or trading the pick,” Breer wrote. “As such, in addition to all the work on the quarterbacks and studying prospects like Pitts, they’ve had exploratory talks with teams that would have an interest in moving up to No. 4 dating back to when the Niners traded the third pick.”"
While that statement shouldn’t come as anything surprising to Falcons fans, what Breer says next should be a little surprising, but it does make sense.
"I wish I could tell you… that the Falcons were leaning one way or another. I don’t think they’re there yet. And to me, being able to properly value the pick by shopping it around seems like a smart way to properly inform what’s going to be an immense decision for Fontenot, Smith and all the new people in the building."
Anyone who saw the move the Falcons made with Ryan’s contract should be able to say pretty soundly that the franchise is *leaning* towards not drafting a quarterback in the first-round, but Breer doesn’t say that’s the case.
Is it because they’re truly mulling all of their options? That may be true, but I’ve got a different theory.
Despite what some are saying, I don’t think the Falcons take a quarterback. Instead, what I think they’re doing is intentionally putting up a front to maintain the value of their pick. If they can convince other franchises that they’re seriously considering drafting a quarterback, they have the ability to leverage even more draft capital if they choose to trade back as a result.
Could the Atlanta Falcons take a quarterback when they’re on the clock? Yes, it’s certainly possible. But this seems more like smoke and mirrors to keep their options open and give themselves the most value possible no matter what they ultimately decide to do with that pick.