Ah, 2013. The International Year of Quinoa saw Grand Theft Auto V, Frozen and the still inexplicable emergence of Macklemore, as well as a Falcons playoff loss I don’t enjoy talking about a decade later. It was a fairly forgettable year for our Falcons overall, but there is one memory that sticks out.
I’m talking, of course, about the team drafting Sean Renfree. The seventh-rounder out of Duke would only wind up playing in two NFL games, both in 2015 with Atlanta, but he stands out in this team’s recent history for an entirely different reason. Renfree was the last quarterback the Falcons actually drafted, meaning it has been nearly a full decade since Atlanta added to its quarterback room via means other than undrafted free agents or free agent signings.
That’s obviously due to the stability of the Matt Ryan era—Ryan missed a vanishingly small number of games in his career—but it’s still a little astonishing that the Falcons have not picked a single quarterback to groom behind him since Renfree. Even with a new front office in town a year ago, the Falcons ultimately wound up signing A.J. McCarron and adding UDFA Feleipe Franks.
As Timo Riske at Pro Football Focus noted, that puts the Falcons in unique company, as they’re the only team that hasn’t drafted a quarterback since 2016. In total, they’ve drafted only five in the past 20 years, with Renfree (2013), Ryan (2008), D.J. Shockley (2006), Matt Schaub (2004), and Kurt Kittner (2002) being the team’s only choices. Two out of five turning into quality starting quarterbacks is actually a pretty great hit rate for what I’m going to safely assume is one of the smallest investments of draft capital into the position leaguewide in that span.
The Falcons are the only team that hasn't selected a QB with a draft pick since 2016— Timo Riske (@PFF_Moo) April 5, 2022
Chances are that streak will end in 2022. The Falcons may just be pumping smoke into all the other team offices by scrutinizing prospects like Liberty’s Malik Willis and Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder, but they currently only have Marcus Mariota and Feleipe Franks under contract and badly need a long-term option now with Matt Ryan in Indianapolis. With the cap space spigot about to open in 2023 and plenty of draft capital this year to use, Atlanta’s well aware that the easiest way for this team to miss out on what looks like a wide-open window to contend is to not have a capable quarterback. If they like anyone from this class—and again, it seems like they may—they’ll take a swing.
If and when that happens, Renfree’s title of “last quarterback the Falcons drafted” will come to a close after nearly a full decade. Hey, it was a good run.