Todd McShay has decades of experience covering the NFL draft for ESPN. When he says it is tough to decide where to go for a certain team in a mock draft, he absolutely means it. Looking at the Falcons, McShay said he had a tough time deciding. It is hard to argue.
What are the Falcons doing? We still don’t really know.
What we did know is head coach and general manager candidates pitched Arthur Blank and Rich McKay on what they want to do with the team’s top players, primarily Julio Jones and Matt Ryan. Neither Arthut Smith or Terry Fontenot have given much indication to whether they will refresh or rebuild. Ryan has restructured his contract, guaranteeing him in 2020 and making 2021 likely he returns. However, rumors immediately circulated that it shouldn’t impact the team’s plans on selecting a quarterback in the draft.
Those plans are still unknown. The lack of cap space has made it extremely difficult to predict what the team will do. It would be so much easier if they were able to sign a good defensive end and safety, supplementing the defense and making a quarterback at 4 much more palatable. Instead, the defense is screaming for replacements. They need offensive linemen. Another back. Another pass catcher.
It is really a numbers game at this point. Securing a quarterback who will sit on the bench for the next two seasons will be an aggressive allocation of resources for a team lacking resources.
So when McShay says this is difficult, he means it. We don’t really know if the brain trust is reaching for the reset button.
Do the Falcons take advantage of the opportunity to take their QB of the future while they have the high pick, or do they turn their attention to the elite offensive playmakers available?
McShay has the expected picks: Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, then Mac Jones. Meaning the Falcons could grab Penei Sewell, Kyle Pitts, Justin Fields, or even Ja’Marr Chase. It is tough to go wrong with any of the above.
McShay, a plugged-in analyst, boils it down to the basics: draft the elite player in Kyle Pitts.
QB Trey Lance (North Dakota State) could be the pick, with the chance to learn behind Matt Ryan, but frankly Pitts is just too difficult to pass on. He is a unique talent and a mismatch for any opponent. His 6-foot-6 size, speed and hands would cause fits for defensive coordinators, especially when they already have to account for Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley.
We are not sure how long defensive coordinators will have to account for Jones. While a player like Fields or Lance could replace Ryan, a player like Pitts could fill in for a Julio-like player at some point and provide Atlanta with an elite offensive weapon that teams cannot account for.
It really depends on your approach and how you evaluate these players. Like McShay said, this is tough.