Whether you hate him or love him, Colin Cowherd is wildly entertaining and one of sports’ most recognizable voices in all of radio. In a segment earlier in the week, he made a case for the Falcons to keep Matt Ryan — which we already know is happening — and pass on drafting his successor with the fourth overall pick.
This is the greatest take of Colin Cowherd’s entire life
— SportsTalkATL Jake (@cantguardjake) April 7, 2021
This is the most decisive topic among Falcons media, whether to draft Matty Ice’s heir apparent or not. Cowherd mentions that Arthur Smith believes Ryan has many good years left, while Terry Fontenot wants to usher in a new era by finding Ryan’s eventual successor. Wanting to move forward with the former Boston College Golden Eagle and taking a quarterback with the fourth pick aren’t mutually exclusive.
Cowherd brings up a significant point of Ryan’s last four seasons with two different offensive coordinators — 107/44 touchdown/interception ratio, 66.4% completion percentage, and a 96.3 passer rating. Good quarterback play in the NFL is hard to come by, and Ryan has been the epitome of consistency. It is just surprising to hear Cowherd speak so highly of Ryan after bashing him years ago and comparing him to Andy Dalton.
The two sides of the argument are both compelling. Ryan is an aging veteran, and if the team is going to improve as I anticipate, the Falcons won’t be able to take a quarterback for quite a while. But on the other hand, Ryan is still completely capable of leading an Arthur Smith offense to the playoffs, so why not surround him with the most complete team possible.
The best comparison for this situation is Green Bay, where the Packers traded up for Jordan Love in last year’s first round. Rodgers went on to win MVP but fell short in the NFC Championship game to the eventual Super Bowl champions. Playing devil’s advocate is easy in this case, as prospects like Chase Claypool and Patrick Queen were taken after and would’ve solved two sizeable holes in Green Bay’s roster.
I believe the Falcons roster is closer to making the playoffs than a top ten pick, but it isn’t good enough to make a deep playoff run. Smith’s offense and Fontenot’s culture will give the Falcons at least nine wins this year, but trading back to acquire a king’s ransom for the fourth overall pick could provide another impact rookie or two this year that could push the team over the top. Antoine Windfield and Tristan Wirfs pushed division rival Tampa Bay over the top. The two were integral parts of the Buccanneers championship run, and the Falcons could act similarly by trading back from the fourth pick.
I am not set in my ways, though; I would be fine with taking any of the quarterback prospects, Penei Sewell, Kyle Pitts, or trading back to acquire more picks. There really is no way Fontenot and Smith can go wrong with this pick. Even if it is a quarterback, expect the Falcons to still compete for a playoff spot in the first year of the new regime.