The draft is fast approaching, and with it mock drafts start to get a bit more concrete after all the Pro Days have been accounted for.
ESPN’s senior Draft Analyst Mel Kiper Jr. unveiled his NFL Mock Draft 4.0, and it was a bit more spicy than your run of the mill mock in that he put together two rounds and built in some trades.
The Falcons are among the movers, with Kiper projecting them to trade back from pick 4 to pick 6, in exchange getting a second- and third-round pick next year from the Dolphins for their troubles. With that 6th pick, the Falcons take Trey Lance out of North Dakota State.
Here is what Kiper had to say about the specific selection for the Birds:
So new general manager Terry Fontenot and coach Arthur Smith move down two spots, add extra assets for a rebuilding team and still get a franchise quarterback. The 20-year-old Lance is green — he started just 17 games in college, all against FCS competition. The Falcons can let him sit behind Matt Ryan for at least a season. And here’s a list Lance will join (courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information): Since the 2006 draft, six quarterbacks with fewer than 20 college starts have been taken in the first round: Mitchell Trubisky (13), Cam Newton (14), Dwayne Haskins Jr. (14), Mark Sanchez (16), Kyler Murray (17) and Ryan Tannehill (19). There is some risk involved in picking a young, unproven quarterback this high.
This would also be the third trade for the Miami Dolphins within the first round of the 2021 draft, of course already having moved back to 13 in a deal with San Francisco and then having jumped back up to 6 by way of Philadelphia. Miami takes Florida tight end Kyle Pitts with the selection.
This scenario would arguably represent the best of both worlds for the Falcons — trading back to get extra picks while at the same time still getting their quarterback of the future.
Both Lance and Ohio State Justin Fields are on the board at 6 in Kiper’s mock, as he has the 49ers taking Alabama’s Mac Jones at pick 3. Fields is taken by New England with the 10th selection (after a trade up).
Kiper then has the Falcons addressing defense in the second round, with the 35th pick. The University of Miami’s Gregory Rousseau is the selection here:
The 6-foot-7 Rousseau had 15.5 sacks in 2019 before opting out of last season, but he’s a tough evaluation. He doesn’t have elite athletic traits, and that showed up on the film. The Falcons could use some edge-rushing help, though. I also thought about tight end and safety here.
Rousseau is someone who had traction as a potential top 15 pick early in the draft process, but his stock has dropped like an anchor since then. He’s still a very raw prospect (and may not make the biggest impact in his rookie season) but could be a Day 2 steal for any team in the NFL.
Atlanta passes on potential secondary help such as Richie Grant and Asante Samuel Jr. to make Rousseau a Falcon in Kiper’s scenario. In the end, the Falcons would get a quarterback of the future and a promising pass rusher. How would you feel about that?