If you’ve been paying any attention to the Falcons mock drafts swirling around the interwebs, you’ve likely noticed that everyone from Matthew Tabeek at the team site to the sage talking heads here at The Falcoholic have been sending first round quarterbacks to Atlanta. That may or may not be Terry Fontenot’s ultimate plan for the #4 pick, but a new regime talking about taking the best player available and not having deep ties to Matt Ryan suggests that’s far from an impossible scenario, which is why it has persisted.
The latest to do so is ESPN’s Todd McShay, who is plugging Trey Lance to Atlanta.
The QB run is on, and Lance to Atlanta makes it four signal-callers in the first four picks — that has never happened. I like Lance’s field vision, pocket presence, arm strength and mobility. He needs time to learn and develop — he started only 17 games at North Dakota State — but Atlanta offers him the chance to do so with Matt Ryan under contract through 2023. There’s no guarantee that the Falcons will be drafting this high again any time soon, and they shouldn’t be planning on it. Take the opportunity to find Ryan’s heir now.
All the reasons you’ve already read to grab a player as promising as Lance and sit him for a year or two are echoed here. In this scenario, the Falcons would grab and stash Lance until at least 2022 and then count on his strong arm, natural athleticism, and intellect paired with time and experience paying off and making him a very good starting quarterback as soon as the Falcons are ready to throw him in the fire. The Falcons shoot to contend in 2021 with Ryan under center and then things are wide open from there, giving them flexibility and a bright future at the most critical position on the roster.
The reasons not to make a move like this have been repeated over and over again, as well. As good as Lance or Zach Wilson or Justin Fields might be, they’re not going to be impact players this season unless something happens to Ryan. If you’re hellbent on being the best team you can be in 2021, a quarterback at #4 leaves you scrambling to fill a host of other needs with later picks and a limited free agency budget, which in turn means you have not nabbed a potentially elite player at another, more immediate position of need.
We’re not all that far away from finding out who the Falcons pick at #4, and whether they follow the McShay prescription and grab a quarterback like Lance, take someone else entirely, or trade down for a bevy of additional picks. Every Falcons fan has likely staked out a position on mocks like these at this point, so I leave you to re-visit those now.