For the first time in a while, the Atlanta Falcons have a top 5 draft pick. In the lead up to the 2021 NFL Draft, we’re going to be looking at several directions the Falcons could go with the fourth overall pick, and making a case for each. This is who the Atlanta Falcons should draft.
Let’s not beat around the bush, here: it’s been a while since the Atlanta Falcons were good. They might have shown flashes of being good, like parts of 2018. By and large, the side hasn’t been very good since the 2017 season, and even then there were stretches of awfulness.
Part of the problem in Atlanta has been coaching, of course. But you can’t blame everything on the playcallers. At some point, your players have to execute. For too long, that level of execution hasn’t existed. A lot of that is down to a general lack of talent, outside of a choice handful of names. Atlanta’s best hasn’t been good enough to mask Atlanta’s worst. The Falcons have very limited room to move in free agency, so it’s likely the draft will be where Atlanta sees it’s next round of talent injected. With that in mind, the new regime should seriously consider trading down.
Let’s be realistic, the Falcons aren’t one player away from being back in contention, no matter how much we want to believe that. The offensive line isn’t up to snuff, the run game is barely existent, and there are more holes on the defense than a sieve. Yes, there is a general structure of a good team there, but it needs some serious fleshing out. What the Falcons do have, however, is a top five draft pick. As the offseason grinds on, it’s becoming more and more clear that the number four pick is far more valuable than we might have thought at the end of the regular season. That pick might well be the key to unlocking this team’s fullest potential.
The great quarterback rush of 2021
You’ve probably noticed, but there is a rush for quarterbacks right now. The Colts have traded for Carson Wentz, the Rams gave up a great deal for Matthew Stafford, and the Panthers appear to be willing to turn every stone for a viable signal caller. There are a lot of teams looking for a quarterback right now. Luckily for the Falcons, they aren’t one of those teams. And they have a pick that would give someone access to one of the top four quarterbacks on the board.
Off the top of my head, I can think of at least three sides who would seriously consider trading into the top four to secure their future at the position. Philadelphia have parted ways with Wentz, Denver remains uncertain over Drew Lock, and the aforementioned Carolina Panthers. You only have to look at the war chest Tennessee, Cleveland, and San Francisco received in the 2016 and 2017 drafts, as LA, Philadelphia, and Chicago moved for Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, and Mitchell Trubisky respectively. With suitors clearly waiting in the wings, the Falcons could effectively set up a rebuild by parting with just one pick.
Over the course of this series, we’ve looked at a number of positions. Realistically, the Falcons could secure a great number of the names mentioned later in the draft. Hypothetically, if the Broncos were to offer a swap for pick 9, plus a second, and a handful of future picks, in exchange for 4 and fifth, that would be pretty good value. The Falcons would likely still be in a position to nab Parsons, or Farley, and still be in a position to nab a talented quarterback on day two, if that’s a position they feel needs to be addressed.
There are a lot of teams jostling for the right to pick up a quarterback. My own hypothetical trade offer might be well wide of the mark. We all know how important that particular position is, and there might be even more available for the Falcons. Regardless, there’s a haul to be had, both in the 2021 draft, and the future.
We all want to believe the Falcons can turn it around in one draft. It’s happened before, and it’ll happen again. Taking the Falcons salary cap situation into account, as well as the sheer number of roles that need to be filled, taking a step back to gain more capital might be the smartest move they can make. If they play it right, that haul might well set the side up for a good 2021, and an even better 2022.