Just a week ago, we heard all about the Falcons supposedly being interested in trading up for a quarterback in the first round. That particular rumor always felt unlikely, but my fear since then has been that the team is legitimately interested in drafting a quarterback in a pivotal draft class, even though they had Matt Schaub and a couple of interesting former UDFA types in Kurt Benkert and Danny Etling.
I’m not saying Peter King writing that the Falcons are interesting in drafting Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts at #47 in the second round means there’s something to the idea that they’re prioritizing an addition at the position, but I’m certainly more wary than ever before.
In today’s FMIA column at @NBCSports, you’ll find:— Peter King (@peter_king) April 20, 2020
• My mock draft. The first. The only. The total guess.
• Team trades up for Herbert. Team trades up for Tua.
• A GM's biggest draft-day challenge: "Dog-barking."
• Undrafted free agent chaoshttps://t.co/Z9nAg5DfzK pic.twitter.com/d8PzCrZzRr
Hurts is an intriguing choice for the Falcons for a couple of reasons. First of all, he wouldn’t cost them a first round pick (one hopes), allowing them to prioritize an impact defender in the first round. He’s also not just a developmental type who would gather dust behind Matt Ryan for the next 3-4 seasons, because Hurts is not just a pocket passer. Last year, he threw for 32 touchdowns and just 8 picks, but he also ran for over 1,200 yards and 20 touchdowns, a testament to his speed, savvy as a runner, and nose for the end zone.
In Atlanta, it’s fairly obvious that the team would use Hurts in a variety of ways early on in his career, including relieving Ryan and potentially lining up in the backfield. He’s got the talent necessary to do pretty much anything you’d like him to do, but he’s also a good enough pure passer to be Ryan’s heir apparent. If the team fears Ryan is going to be on his way out in 2-3 seasons, or if they find Hurts too compelling a talent to pass up, I could absolutely see them doing this.
So why not? There are several reasons, even if I like Hurts a great deal. This team has inarguable holes on all three levels of the defense and is going to be relying on some relatively unproven options in the passing game this year with Hayden Hurst joining up and Russell Gage currently tracking to be the third receiver. Those are needs that you need multiple picks to effectively address, unless you can get lucky and snag some undrafted free agents and veterans late in the summer, and there are already enough rumors about the team trying to trade up. A quarterback is a luxury pick and a forward-looking one for a team in extreme win-now mode, and the margin for error is already thin with this team.
So file this one away, too. Thankfully the draft is almost here and we can put these rumors to rest soon enough.