While the NFL draft is still 100+ days out ahead of Week 17, things are getting very interesting for teams at the top of the NFL draft. The Falcons have flirted with a top draft pick by the midpoint of the last three seasons, however, 2020 was the year the incompetence stretched through the last half of the year.
Fans watched a lot of bad football. A lot of blown leads. A lot of awful play calls. A lot of terrible execution. This. The only payoff being a chance at a new player who could define the next era of Falcons football. The Falcons are looking at the 4th overall pick with only one game left on the schedule.
In his latest mock draft for The Athletic, Dane Brugler has Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, and Ja’Marr Chase going 1 through 3, respectively. That leaves Atlanta taking their... next tackle of the future? That’s right. Penei Sewell, the Oregon offensive tackle, provides even more support to the offensive line.
Although I think the “generational prospect” label is hyperbolic, Sewell is a very talented player with his best football ahead of him. He is extremely efficient with his movement patterns due to his flexibility and balance, while also showing the instincts (at only 20-years old) to be an immediate NFL starter.
Thanks, I hate it.
Sewell may be the top lineman in this draft and may turn into a Pro Bowl or even Hall of Fame player. That should be the expectation if selected 4th overall.
However, the new general manager and head coach will almost certainly be looking to kick things off with a player who can define the era. Thomas Dimitroff and Mike Smith drafted Matt Ryan. Sewell would mean either Jake Matthews (18th ranked left tackle by Pro Football Focus) or Kaleb McGary (25th ranked right tackle by Pro Football Focus) are moved or cut. It would be far too early to bail on McGary, and unwise to move on from Matthews who was one of the league’s top tackles in a zone blocking scheme.
More importantly, the Falcons may only receive diminishing returns of Sewell over either Matthews or McGary. The Falcons would be passing on Justin Fields and Trey Lance, potential successors to Matt Ryan, and even top defenders like Caleb Farley and Micah Parsons, or more importantly, top pass rushers like Kwity Paye or Gregory Rousseau.
That is right, the Falcons still have a pass rush problem with Takkarist McKinley cut and Dante Fowler invisible. The team is so over-invested in the offense that the thought of dropping such a valuable pick on a non-quarterback is frustrating. Mock drafts are still a shot in the dark, especially this early and especially for a team with an unknown scheme and staff. Expect some wild picks for the Falcons before we start getting better indications on where the Falcons may head.