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If the Falcons are hellbent on taking a QB at No. 8, they may have competition

The Panthers appear to be setting themselves up to get one at No. 6.

NFL Combine Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

While we wait for the Falcons to either smooth things over with Matt Ryan—that undersells the job here a bit, I think—or trade him, it’s worth thinking about the succession plan at quarterback. The only scenario in which you’d throw that notion out of the window entirely is if the Falcons do wind up giving Ryan a multi-year extension, at which point you’re probably not drafting someone in the first couple rounds to be Jordan Love 2.0.

Arthur Blank alluded to that succession plan in comments that sure look different now in light of the team’s doomed pursuit of Deshaun Watson, which is the only reason any talk of an extension is on the table right now. My working assumption is that this team would try to scoop up a quarterback they liked early in the second round, or perhaps trade their way back into the late first if there’s a quarterback prospect they covet, and that the player they acquire would sit for a year or two behind Ryan.

Again, that’s still what might happen, but the need for a quarterback would become considerably more urgent if Ryan justifiably wants to get the hell out of here after the franchise tried to hustle him out the door out for Watson. If that’s the case, and the Falcons would strongly consider picking say Malik Willis or Kenny Pickett with the 8th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, they may well end up having some competition.

That’s because the Carolina Panthers are looking to sign Duane Brown, who is still a terrific left tackle. That would seem to have them gearing up to grab a quarterback after they also tried and failed to trade for Watson, and as Aaron Freeman notes, that could happen as soon as pick #6 for a team that desperately needs to show they have an actual plan at the position. If the Falcons absolutely have to have a player, they may have to jump over Carolina to get them.

I still think it’s unlikely that the team would sink a top ten pick into quarterback given their stated needs, much less that they’d trade up for one, because I have a hard time thinking the best player available when they’re picking will end up being a quarterback. With so much self-inflicted chaos swirling around the position now and the possibility that the Falcons could be left with nothing but Feleipe Franks and a dream after a Matt Ryan trade, though, we can’t rule much out.