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New mock draft from The Athletic entertains Falcons trading up to No. 1 pick

In a year where the Falcons have vowed to make the big changes necessary to contend, this feels like at least a real possibility.

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UCLA v USC Photo by Ryan Kang/Getty Images

The Atlanta Falcons have to get a quarterback, and a damn good one. That’s job #1 of this offseason, and I say that knowing full well how important this next coaching hire is.

Knowing that, we have to assume the Falcons will go to great lengths to acquire the quarterback they believe in. That could include a trade for a veteran, a major contract for an impending free agent, or a trade up in the 2024 NFL Draft. If the latter is an option—and I assume it is—could the Falcons go all the way to the top pick, especially since the Chicago Bears appear to be shopping it?

That’s the exact scenario The Athletic’s Nick Baumgarner laid out in a recent mock draft, and it’s difficult not to come away from his proposal intrigued. Here’s what he wrote about the choice he made, which was giving 2024 and 2025 first rounders and 2024 and 2025 second rounders to the Bears in exchange for the right to take USC quarterback Caleb Williams:

Of all the QB-needy teams, Atlanta’s roster is the most ready to win. Now, add a new coach and a new face of the franchise. Williams next to running back Bijan Robinson, in an offense with tight end Kyle Pitts and wide receiver Drake London, might sell a ticket or two.

I’ll be candid: That seems like a relatively cheap price to go and get the top pick, so I don’t expect it to be quite that simple. Losing next year’s first and second would hurt, but the cost of acquiring a player who could be a top quarterback in this league is always expensive. If Atlanta thinks Williams is the best player—especially if he’s far and away the best—for their vacancy, we have to consider the possibility that they’ll take this route.

Why Williams? There are of course differences of opinions, but Williams is the consensus top quarterback in this draft class for good reason. He has a terrific arm with the accuracy and smarts to be a top-shelf passer, while also boasting the movement skills to keep plays alive and scramble for yardage when plays finally break down. He is not the biggest quarterback out there and will need to slow down a little bit at the NFL level and learn to take what defenses give him instead of needing to create all the time, but surrounding him with a capable supporting cast and not asking him to shoulder all of the responsibility for making the offense tick should help a great deal with that. As a quarterback and as a playmaker, Williams is a thrilling, potentially elite option at the next level.

Most teams would covet that skillset, but the Falcons are in a position to maximize it if they bring the right coach aboard. Atlanta already has the pieces of an elite ground game with Bijan Robinson, Tyler Allgeier, and a very good run-blocking offensive line, and they have a pair of big, useful targets in Drake London and Kyle Pitts. If they can get the right offensive mind in the door and address the team’s very real weakness at receiver beyond London, Williams could thrive immediately upon landing in the league for the Falcons. Given that he’d also be their long-term plan if things went well, it’s not hard to see why a trade up might be something the Falcons will seriously mull this spring.

We’re a long way away from finding out whether they’ll be tempted to go up for Williams, Drake Maye, or Jayden Daniels in an effort to address their very real hole at the quarterback position, but it does feel possible. Don’t be surprised if this is not the last time we see this possibility floated.