Atlanta Falcons could make shocking decision with fourth pick in 2021 NFL Draft

By Vincent Frank

The Atlanta Falcons now have a number of ways they could go with the fourth pick in the 2021 NFL Draft after all the movement we’ve seen ahead of them leading up to the annual event.

Now that the San Francisco 49ers have moved up to the third selection, it’s a foregone conclusion that the top-three picks will be quarterbacks. That puts Atlanta in an enviable position as it relates to the fourth pick.

They could potentially look to move down with a quarterback-needy team. New Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot could also opt to find an heir-apparent to current starting quarterback Matt Ryan. According to Peter King of Pro Football Talk, Atlanta might actually be leaning in that direction.

“I keep hearing Atlanta‚Äôs leaning QB, with logic having Lance sitting behind Matt Ryan for two years, then playing,” King reported.

Of course, this could all be a ploy to entice another team into giving up the farm for a trade up to the fourth selection of the 2021 NFL Draft. Among those potentially looking to move up, the Carolina Panthers are seemingly in desperation mode with the eighth overall selection. Any move up to the fourth spot with a division rival would cost Carolina a premium. That much is known.

Read More: NFL Draft rumors: Latest news and information leading up to the annual event

Are the Falcons seriously considering quarterback with the fourth pick in the 2021 NFL Draft?

Could the Atlanta Falcons trade up in the 2021 NFL Draft for a quarterback?
Sep 29, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) reacts in the fourth quarter of their game against the Tennessee Titans at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

We’re at the point in the offseason that sees teams play games with other organizations through the media. This could very well be the case for Atlanta.

With that said, there’s no clear-cut decision for Atlanta to make outside of going quarterback or trading down. They need help on the defensive side of the ball. Linebacker Micah Parsons is seen as the best defender in the draft. He’d be a pretty big reach at four. Meanwhile, Florida tight end Kyle Pitts would seem to be more of a luxury pick — something the Falcons can’t afford right now.

What does this all mean? It might not be a bluff that the Falcons are looking for an heir-apparent to the 35-year-old Ryan. Remember, owner Arthur Blank refused to close the door on a potential trade of the franchise quarterback before Atlanta’s new brass made it clear that he’s at least sticking around over the short-term.

Read More: 2021 NFL mock draft: Crazy trades spark historic run on QBs, more big surprises

Atlanta Falcons decision will be predicated on what the San Francisco 49ers do

Atlanta Falcons trade up for Trey Lance?
Jan 11, 2020; Frisco, Texas, USA; North Dakota State Bison quarterback Trey Lance (5) scrambles from James Madison Dukes safety D’Angelo Amos (24) in the third quarterat Toyota Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

This is another major backdrop here. The 49ers have not zeroed in on who they will be picking with the third selection. Assuming Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson are the first two quarterbacks off the board, that leaves the 49ers with a major decision.

Justin Fields (Ohio State), Trey Lance (North Dakota State) and Mac Jones (Alabama) are all options with the third pick. Depending on who the Falcons like the most of that group and what the 49ers do, they could then make a selection at four or trade down.

Right now, this is more than likely going to be something that happens during the 2021 NFL Draft late in April. Of course, that’s dependent on the 49ers not showing their cards here in the next month or so.

For now, it would not be a surprise if the Atlanta Falcons took a quarterback at four to learn behind Ryan for a couple seasons. As Peter King notes, Trey Lance might be the target.