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Falcons in unprecedented position for a historic decision on the 4th pick

New general manager Terry Fontenot will only get one shot at an opportunity like this. His decision will define his career with the Falcons and the future of the franchise.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Terry Fontenot may be surprised to find out his biggest move would come so early with the Falcons. After all, the 4th overall pick is a coveted pick but rarely one with this much intrigue or potential. Typically, the top quarterback and top overall players are off the board, and interest in that pick is limited.

The 2021 draft looks to be surprisingly unique. If rumors are to be believed, we are heading for a historic situation with the first four picks expected to be all quarterbacks. Even more unique is we already have one team trade into the top 3.

We know the first three picks are going to be quarterback. Consistent rumors suggest each team knows who they will select with their pick, essentially putting the Falcons on the clock.

Rumors also suggest multiple teams are interested in trading up to that pick, with some teams extremely eager to add their next franchise quarterback and willing to cough up substantial draft picks. Looking at the picks following 4, it is clear that the only realistic option for teams to secure their quarterback is to trade with Atlanta. Multiple teams have to decide if they want to pay up now or risk their franchise struggling another year.

The predicament suddenly puts the Falcons in an interesting position. At least a very unique position for the Falcons. The team has not had this number of great options in decades.

For example, Thomas Dimitroff had a much clearer path forward which was pretty clearly picking up the franchise quarterback in Matt Ryan. The Falcons finished up a season with Joey Harrington, Byron Leftwich, and Chris Redman start. There was no trade interest. No other quarterbacks in place. No best player in the draft dropping to the pick.

Dimitroff made a pick that defined the franchise for (at least) 14 years. Fontenot can do the same. It just may not necessarily be with a quarterback.

Fontenot is in an absolutely prime position. He must know it. Of course, this is much different from a normal year where the team’s general manager would otherwise grab their favorite player left on the board.

The Falcons can add their next franchise quarterback, a game-changing offensive weapon, or trade down and rebuild this team. It would be hard to go “wrong” here. Even after months of bickering, we have no consensus among fans, analysts, or even at the Falcoholic staff.

The direction of the team lays in the balance. It will be the decision that, for better or worse, will always define Fontenot. If he takes a quarterback, that player will always be compared to the remaining quarterback and that elite tight end. If he trades down, those picks will be compared to all of the above. Of course, wins and losses will do a lot of talking too.