Now that the top-three picks in the 2021 NFL Draft are expected to be quarterbacks, the Atlanta Falcons find themselves in a great position with the fourth selection. As many as five signal callers could go within the top-10 later this month.
Still boasting a top-end quarterback in Matt Ryan, new Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot isn’t really in a desperate position when it comes to adding an heir-apparent.
This has led to reports that the Falcons have put the fourth pick in the 2021 NFL Draft on the block and have already fielded calls from multiple teams. Another report suggests that Fontenot and new head coach Arthur Smith could be split on whether to select a quarterback of the future.
What I’m hearing is that (Terry) Fontenot is more focused on quarterback, and Arthur Smith believes that Matt Ryan does have two or more years left. He has no real medical history, he hasn’t missed many games in his career and there hasn’t been a big drop off in his play,” ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported recently (h/t SB Nation).
Coming off a four-win season and with major holes on defense, it would make sense for the Falcons to trade down from four and acquire a bounty of draft capital in return. It would sure the heck beat making a luxury pick at four in Florida tight end Kyle Pitts or reaching for a defender. If Atlanta does opt to trade down, here’s a look at three ideal scenarios.
Atlanta Falcons trade with the Denver Broncos
- Falcons get: Drew Lock, ninth pick, second-round pick in 2021 and first-round pick in 2022
- Broncos get: Fourth pick
As we saw with the 49ers’ blockbuster trade up from No. 12 overall to the third pick, teams are going to have to pay a premium to move up for a quarterback. In fact, this scenario is likely on the lower end of the bounty Atlanta would receive in a trade down with Denver for the fourth pick.
With that said, it seems to make a lot of sense for both sides. From Atlanta’s perspective, it would be a way for Fontenot and Smith to find a happy medium. Smith will be able to start Ryan over the short-term while the Falcons’ new general manager gets a young quarterback who was just recently a second-round pick. Atlanta could then target defense at nine while adding two more valuable picks.
As for the Broncos, it’s not a secret that they are looking to upgrade from Drew Lock. New general manager George Paton was in on Matthew Stafford. Denver was also seen as one of the favorites to land Deshaun Watson before the well-known allegations of sexual assault surfaced. Whether it’s Mac Jones, Justin Fields or Trey Lance at four, Denver gets its guy.
Atlanta Falcons trade with New England Patriots
- Falcons get: Stephon Gilmore, 15th pick, third-round pick in 2021, first-round picks in 2022 and 2023
- Patriots get: Fourth pick
This scenario would be pretty similar to what the 49ers gave up to Miami in the above-mentioned blockbuster trade. The one outlier is that Atlanta receives former NFL Defensive Player of the Year, cornerback Stephon Gilmore. He’s firmly on the trade block and comes with a pretty big cap hit for the Pats. Cornerback is also obviously a need in Atlanta after its defense gave up 34 touchdown passes against 12 interceptions in 2020.
Will New England bite the proverbial bullet and trade two first-round picks and a third-round to move up 12 spots later in April? While owner Robert Kraft seemed to suggest that might not be in the cards, it’s clear that the Pats need a quarterback of the future to take over for Cam Newton. And if the going rate for Jimmy Garoppolo is indeed a first-round pick, this might make more sense for New England.
Atlanta Falcons trade with the Las Vegas Raiders
- Falcons get: 17th pick, second-round pick, two future first-round picks and a future second-round pick
- Raiders get: Fourth pick
Oh boy. Imagine Jon Gruden pulling off a trade of this ilk. While the Raiders have publicly shown support for Derek Carr, it’s clear that they have also been thinking about finding an heir-apparent behind the scenes. This thought process dates all the way back to the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine. There’s certainly smoke to this fire.
The idea would be for Carr to start one more season in Las Vegas before an unnamed rookie replaces him. The Raiders could the net a nice return in a trade. It’s a win-win for Gruden and Co. As for the Falcons, they net an absurd five draft picks in this blockbuster trade. That would be one way to rebuilding a fledgling roster.