The Falcons have been earning a ton of buzz this offseason for an unexpected wave of signings and trades, ones that have made us feel a spark of hope and the thrill that comes with the team actually surprising us. There’s so much work to be done—cue the bickering about what those moves should be and how grateful we should feel about the ones that have already come in—but the arrow is pointing up.
These signings and the Hayden Hurst trade have also had an unexpected side effect that suddenly everyone is talking about: It sets the Falcons up to start 11 first round draft picks on offense, should they so desire.
Who’s on that list? Here’s everyone below.
QB Matt Ryan: 2008
RB Todd Gurley: 2015
WR Julio Jones: 2011
WR Calvin Ridley: 2018
WR Laquon Treadwell: 2016
TE Hayden Hurst: 2018
LT Jake Matthews: 2014
LG James Carpenter: 2011
C Alex Mack: 2009
RG Chris Lindstrom: 2019
RT Kaleb McGary: 2019
The Falcons have done two things simultaneously this winter and early spring: Trying to upgrade the roster and trying to generate buzz. They’re fully aware that unless they win in 2020, the current regime is on the outs and nobody’s going to show up to games. They also want people to show up to the games right out of the gate, however, and that’s a tough sell after consecutive 7-9 seasons and keeping an increasingly unpopular general manager and head coach around. They didn’t assemble a collection of 11 first rounders on offense totally on purpose, but it’s fair to say they don’t mind the extra offseason attention.
This story will fade into the background as the summer wears on and not every single one of these players winds up starting. I think it’d be a mistake to give Treadwell more run than Russell Gage, for example, a feeling the Falcons are likely to share after spending a training camp and preseason with both of them. I also think it’d be a massive mistake to hand James Carpenter the starting job, given that he was the worst of the Jamon Brown, Wes Schweitzer, and Carpenter group, and young Matt Gono seems ready for a bigger opportunity.
Regardless of whether it’s 11 starters, 9, or even fewer, the Falcons are out of excuses if this offense doesn’t perform in 2020, and these kinds of narratives pump up the team now but could easily come back to bite them later. The biggest question marks today concern Gurley’s health, that troublesome left guard spot, and...Dirk Koetter, who is not a player but is going to be critical to the team’s success. Let’s hope that given even more shiny toys to play with, Koetter can coax more productivity out of the unit this year, first round picks or no. The talent and the pedigree demand nothing less.