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What should the Falcons do with the 4th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft?

Atlanta is in a very versatile and advantageous spot inside the top 5.

CFP National Championship Presented by AT&T - Ohio State v Alabama Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Any 4-12 seasons are never fun, and especially not when a team starts 0-5 and basically loses all hope of a playoff appearance in early October. However, the silver lining that comes from such a campaign is the superior draft pick received for all of the troubles (unless you’re the Houston Texans).

Everything seemed to go Atlanta’s way down the stretch to assure them of the fourth overall selection — the Chargers, Cowboys, Panthers, Broncos and Bengals all won at least one game in the last quarter of season to gradually move the Birds up the draft board further and further.

New Falcons General Manager Terry Fontenot has a number of moves he could make at pick number 4. First, let’s go through what those moves could be:


Trade up for a quarterback

This is by far the most unlikely scenario on this list, but there’s still enough of a possibility for me to put it as an option. I presume that a trade up would involve a move up to pick number 2 because it’s incredibly unlikely that the Jaguars will do anything but take Trevor Lawrence with the top pick (nor should they).

A trade up would likely involve winning a bidding war in what is a clear seller’s market. Justification for such a move would come if Atlanta’s front office identifies whom they believe to be the next superstar quarterback, without having assurance that such a player will fall to them. In such a scenario you do whatever it takes to get your guy.

Because of Atlanta’s positioning being so close to the second pick, and within range to take one of the “Big 4” at quarterback, they likely wouldn’t have to trade any future first rounders to move up, but a future second round selection will be needed to get the conversation started.

Take the best available quarterback at 4

I would just like to preface this by saying that Matt Ryan will be the quarterback of the Falcons in 2021 — his contract all but guarantees that (he’s also still a really good QB).

Atlanta, however, sits in an advantageous position to take their quarterback of the future in this draft. Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields and Trey Lance represent the top tier of QBs available and, doing the math, one of them is guaranteed to be on the board when the Birds pick.

This scenario would of course mean that the Falcons would spend a top 5 pick on someone who wouldn’t contribute at all in his rookie year (barring injury). However, the payoff would be getting the team’s franchise QB for the next decade if the pick hits.

Take the best non-QB available

We can safely assume that Trevor Lawrence will be the number 1 overall selection, and that the second pick will also be a quarterback (whether that pick is made by the Jets or someone else). Let’s operate under the assumption that the Dolphins will take one of the wide receivers at 3, or that they’ll trade out of the pick with a team looking to also select a QB.

That would leave every single defensive player and offensive lineman on the board for the Falcons. Penei Sewell, Micah Parsons, Kwity Paye, Rashawn Slater, Patrick Surtain among others are all players who would help the Falcons win now in 2021.

If Atlanta identifies someone like Parsons as their guy, they may not want to risk losing him via trade back. Terry Fontenot has already stated that taking the “best player available” is his philosophy when it comes to the draft so I’m not going to assume that they’ll draft purely for positional need.

Trade back and then go BPA

Remember how I said that the abundance of quarterbacks at the top of this draft would make this into a seller’s market? The Falcons could take advantage of that, if Fontenot decides to go this route.

There were reportedly multiple QB-hungry teams in the Matthew Stafford sweepstakes who were willing to part with at least one first round selection. There will be no shortage of suitors looking to make a move for one of the big quarterback prospects in this draft, especially if one of Zach Wilson or Justin Fields is on the board at pick 4. The Falcons can also use the legitimate threat of taking a QB themselves to enhance their leverage in negotiations.

If Atlanta were to execute a trade back, they stand to add at least another first-round draft pick in 2022 and an extra Day 2 pick to their draft arsenal (in my opinion, this is what should be required to start the conversation). Trade ups cost an extra premium when quarterback is the position being targeted.

After the trade back, Atlanta would likely draft the best remaining player on their draft board. It’s impossible to know who that may be given the unknown variables in this equation (we don’t know where they would end up picking or who will be remaining on the board at that pick).


Which of these four options would you prefer?

Poll

What do you want the Falcons do in the 2021 draft?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    Trade up for a quarterback
    (43 votes)
  • 26%
    Take the best available quarterback at 4
    (554 votes)
  • 12%
    Take the best non-QB available
    (263 votes)
  • 58%
    Trade back and take the best player available
    (1222 votes)
2082 votes total Vote Now

If you would like, please write a comment about how you would tackle this draft if you were in the shoes of Terry Fontenot.