My esteemed colleagues Matt Chambers and DW have been kicking around the idea of the Falcons trading down in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, and they’ve hardly been alone in that. With the 31st overall pick, uncertain talent available at that point, and the team short a draft pick this year, you can make a strong case for doing so.
Will the Falcons, though? I’m less certain of that. This is a team that showed a willingness a year ago to go for their prized players earlier than anyone else expected them to, and sitting at #31, the line between a first and second round pick is pretty blurred anyways. That said, it could happen, and there are two scenarios in which I think it’s actually likely.
Scenario #1: Their favorites are gone
When you have 30 picks between you and paydirt, this isn’t actually a far-fetched scenario.
The Falcons probably have a handful of pass rushers, defensive linemen, offensive linemen, and perhaps some safeties that they’re looking at with pick #31. If the draft lines up in an odd way and those players are snapped up, Atlanta might judge it wise to move down a few spots, pick up an additional draft selection, and still grab a player they’re interested in. You get the sense that Quinn would really have to be discouraged by what’s left to be okay with this, but more picks increase you chances of hitting on good players.
For this to become a reality, of course, a lot of things would have to break against the Falcons. If Quinn has a guy he loves (and here again, I’ll point to someone like Derek Rivers or Dan Feeney who might be a second round choice in the eyes of many teams), he likely won’t be interested in getting the front office to explore move down options.
Scenario #2: They want to stockpile assets
Maybe there’s a player they like on the board, but the Falcons are feeling that missing draft pick and want to set themselves up for future success. It’s worth remembering that while this is an intimidating, quality team, the large contracts coming down now increase the need to fill the edges of the roster with solid, cost-effective players. You can do that more easily when you have a lot of draft choices, and when you’re picking at the end of a given round, it should be easier to talk yourself into swapping into the beginning of the next.
If your choice is a player like Taco Charlton or a player like Derek Rivers a few selections later and a fifth round draft choice...well, you might just like the latter scenario.
The Falcons find players they love and select them under Dan Quinn, so I don’t actually believe a trade down is that likely unless teams clear out their preferred options in the 20s. But as always with this team, you should stay on your toes