The Falcons are in dire straights. As if playing George Costanza, every move the Falcons made in the last five years should have been the opposite. As if preparing a masterclass is mismanagement, Atlanta signed the wrong players, paid the wrong money, drafted the wrong players, and let the wrong players walk.
The result is a defense devoid of talent outside of Grady Jarrett and AJ Terrell, and an offense with an aging quarterback, Kyle Pitts, and perhaps two capable offensive linemen. Somehow, almost impossibly, the team is also near the bottom in available cap space.
Every position is a need. Which, while terrible, really opens things up for mock drafts. ESPN’s Todd McShay dropped his third (and therefore superior than his first two) mock draft. McShay saw the Calvin Ridley news and said, “Let’s get nuts.”
The Falcons have not one but two picks. Let’s check out the mock.
Drake London, USC Wide Receiver at 8
General manager Terry Fontenot is certain to add wide receivers early and often in both free agency and the draft. London is considered by many to be the draft’s top pass catcher. At 6-foot-4 and 219-pounds, his reported long-speed is a bit reminiscent of Michael Jenkins (with better hands).
London has some useful versatility for Atlanta’s shell of a roster thanks to experience outside and in the slot. However, would drafting London align with Fontenot’s best player available strategy? The wide receiver needs a good day at his Pro Day to jump out above so many other electric performances at the NFL combine.
Matt Corral, Ole Miss Quarterback at 29 (via trade)
McShay did not need to justify taking a wide receiver as the Falcons don’t have any of those. For quarterback, the Falcons do have Matt Ryan. McShay thinks Corral could do well to learn under Matt Ryan and be a good fit for Arthur Smith’s offensive scheme.
Falcons fans watched the Dimitroff burn up draft picks to trade up for players who did not work out. It was easier to stomach the Takk McKinley and Kaleb McGary situations when the team had better depth. Doing it without depth or cap space for a player who likely won’t see the field in 2021 is... tough to swallow.
It would let us know the Falcons are, in fact, rebuilding. More importantly, if Corral ends up being a franchise quarterback, those draft picks don’t matter. However, is Corral better than the options expected to be available in 2022? Or better than Justin Fields or Mac Jones, two players the Falcons could have drafted last year?
Fontenot gets paid the big bucks to have answers to those questions. We will have to wait to know if his answers are better than the guy he replaced.