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NFL Draft rumor: Falcons leaning QB at No. 4, could select and sit Trey Lance

The reporter who first had the Julio Jones trade in 2011 passes along the latest rumors on Atlanta.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 11 NCAA Division I Football Championship Game Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The new Falcons front office has been a relatively tight ship. We still don’t know if the team wants to keep Matt Ryan past 2021. What are their plans with Julio Jones? Does Grady Jarrett fit the new scheme? It is tough to learn too much from their plans in free agency considering they are significantly limited by the cap.

We have only heard a few rumors. One was that restructuring Ryan’s deal should not be decisive on whether or not they select a quarterback in the draft. Another was the team will fake interest in a quarterback in an effort to trade back. So take both with a grain of salt.

In today’s Football Morning in America, we have a follow-up rumor from Peter King. King notably had the Julio Jones trade back in 2011. He remains one of the most plugged-in reporters in the league. So when he has a rumor, it makes sense to listen.

That rumor? Even after the 49ers trade, essentially guaranteeing three quarterback go in the first three picks, the Falcons are still leaning quarterback.

Trevor Lawrence goes one to Jacksonville. Wilson two, probably to the Jets. Mac Jones or Lance to San Francisco at three. I keep hearing Atlanta’s leaning QB, with logic having Lance sitting behind Matt Ryan for two years, then playing.

Trey Lance sounds like King just connecting dots, with Lance establishing himself as somewhere around the third best quarterback in the draft. Jones going third overall would be shocking but seems to be where the rumors are positioning. The new staff would kick off their era similar to the prior: nabbing a franchise quarterback. Outside of that, the surrounding situation could not possibly be more different, and start starts right at the quarterback in question.

Ryan started in Week 1. Lance, an intriguing yet unpolished prospect that will need some time to adjust to the NFL, would be unlikely to start in 2021. Our own Everett Glaze scouted Lance about a month back before the quarterback was not quite as established.

Trey Lance may be the most versatile QB in the 2021 draft. He’s shown an ability to play in pistol formations, in shotgun and even under the center. Lance is one of the better QB’s that no one is talking about. He has an amazing arm, is a true threat to break a game open with his legs, has great leadership skills and is highly poised in the big pressure moments. There’s a lot to build on.

The Falcons could take a big swing for the future by grabbing Lance. It would be a tough move to use a top 4 pick on a player unlikely to start until 2023 when they so desperately need an infusion of talent. However, planning for the future may mean short-term pain for long-term success.

Also notable is the seemingly lukewarm interest in Justin Fields. He was considered easily the second best quarterback coming into the offseason. Now reporters have nearly unanimously indicated Fields is below multiple other quarterbacks. King suggests that the Panthers, desperate for a quarterback, are far from guaranteed to grab Fields even if he is the only one left at 8.

Also notably is King opining on the new value for trades. Looking at the Julio trade, a blockbuster at the time, worked perfectly for the Falcons (The team’s plan outside of Julio in the following years did not work perfectly). The team moved up from the bottom of the first to near the top, nabbed a player under the then-new rookie cap, and that player has turned into a Hall of Famer. Presented with the same trade package today, teams wouldn’t even pick up the phone today. Look at Miami nabbing three firsts to move back only nine spots.

What does this mean for the Falcons? With the value for top picks at a premium, they could fall back a handful of slots for multiple first-round picks and reload the young talent while expensive, veteran contracts are shedded int he next few years.

There remains a good chance we won’t know what the new regime will do until draft night.