We are only 15 days away from the start of the 2021 NFL Draft, and we’re living through a moment unlike anything we’ve experienced in Atlanta in quite some time. The Atlanta Falcons have a new regime in place, led by general manager Terry Fontenot and head coach Arthur Smith, and we simply don’t know yet what they’re up to. The rumors have flowed this offseason from national reporters which has honestly just made predicting the future that much more murky.
Having the No. 4 overall selection in the upcoming draft gives the Falcons plenty of options. Will they stay put and take a rare talent in Kyle Pitts? Will they trade down and grow their draft capital for both now and the future as they re-stock the roster? Or will they stay put and take their (hopeful) quarterback of the future?
As the team continues to weigh their options, we do know that members of the organization will be on scene today in Columbus, Ohio as Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields showcases his talents in his second Pro Day this offseason.
The Falcons will have a new group of 3 at Ohio State for QB Justin Fields’ second pro day: QB coach Charles London, WR coach Dave Brock, and a college scout.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) April 14, 2021
Terry Fontenot, Arthur Smith and Dave Ragone were at the first one, so Atlanta will get 6 sets of eyes on Fields.
The Falcons will reportedly be joined by the San Francisco 49ers, New York Jets, Denver Broncos and New England Patriots for Wednesday’s Pro Day. The inclusion of London, Brock, and a scout could be read a few different ways, but certainly having Fields’ quarterback coach get a closer look at him if the team is going to draft him seems like a smart move.
At this point, predicting where Fields goes in the 2021 NFL Draft is hard because of the amount of smoke in the air. Fields has been called everything from the second-best quarterback in this class behind Trevor Lawrence to a player who could slide to the middle of the first round, and the criticism of his mechanics and ability has ranged from somewhat reasonable to very weird.
Chris Mortensen with a real humdinger here suggesting Justin Fields has bad throwing mechanics because he’s been playing baseball, a sport he has not played since 2018 pic.twitter.com/0idwpfUC11— Ben Koo (@bkoo) April 13, 2021
We know he isn’t heading to Jacksonville, and the Jets being present is probably more of a due diligence move, as it’s expected they’ll select quarterback Zach Wilson. The 49ers are where things get slightly less predictable.
In March, the 49ers surprised many when they moved from the No. 12 pick to the No. 3 pick in a trade with the Miami Dolphins. In that trade up, the 49ers handed the Dolphins their 2021, 2022 and 2023 first-round picks as well as a 2022 third-round pick. You’re not giving up that much for anything but a quarterback, with eyes largely being on Fields and Mac Jones as the rumored favorites, with also the possibility of Trey Lance. So it obviously makes sense for the 49ers to be present.
The Broncos and Patriots are where things get very interesting for the Falcons, as both teams have been rumored to be interested in moving up for one of the quarterbacks. The Broncos have the No. 9 pick, which isn’t a massive drop down the order, but would basically remove the possibility for the Falcons to take a quarterback early unless they love Mac Jones. A trade with the Patriots would definitely make drafting one of the top quarterbacks virtually impossible, but the return they would get in current and future draft picks which be huge, and would allow them to focus on building the best possible supporting cast for Matt Ryan and a much better defense.
Even if the Falcons have absolutely no interest in taking Fields later this month, it makes complete sense to act interested and be in attendance for his second Pro Day. If the plan is to trade down, the fictitious or at least exaggerated interest they want teams to think they have in Fields would only make those eager to draft Fields give up more to move up. If they are interested, Charles London gets his first look at the quarterback he may be coaching up this summer.