ESPN’s Todd McShay: Falcons won’t be drafting quarterback at No. 8

dkr21120411 pit at wf

With the draft set to begin in about 24 hours, the NFL is buzzing. In what should be an extremely unpredictable event, the Falcons are set to pick eighth overall with the world at its fingertips. Atlanta is in a true best player available situation. Depending on how the first seven selections shake out, the Falcons could end up with any number of players — Evan Neal, Ikem Ekwonu, Jermaine Johnson II, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Derek Stingely Jr., Sauce Gardner, Kyle Hamilton.

The roster is so bare that every position group could use bolstering. There isn’t a single unit that couldn’t use an influx of talent. Cornerback is by far the strongest position, but that won’t stop Terry Fontenot from adding to it if the board falls that way; he’s already stated they won’t be afraid to add to a position of strength. Plus, you can never have enough corners in today’s pass-happy league.

Wide receiver is certainly the team’s biggest need, followed closely by the EDGE defenders. That obvious need at pass catcher has prompted every national draft pundit — Todd McShay, Mel Kiper Jr., Peter King, Benjamin Albright, etc. — to mock the Falcons landing mostly Drake London and sometimes Garrett Wilson. I’ve been very outspoken on the idea Atlanta won’t draft a receiver at No. 8 because I believe there are at least eight prospects higher on the Falcons’ big board than any wideout prospect.

In the Falcons’ end-of-season presser, the former long-time Saints executive [Fontenot] said BPA has a proven track record, and straying from this strategy is “how you make mistakes.” Every year, organizations will reach on prospects because they’re desperate for a player of that particular position; sometimes it works out, other times it doesn’t. The Falcons won’t make that mistake. Fontenot will select the highest graded prospect on their big board, regardless of the position.

A selection this high in the draft is supposed to be a cornerstone of the rebuild. Finding a difference-making receiver in the later rounds shouldn’t be as difficult as finding a pass rusher or offensive linemen to build the team around. Nobody — no one successful, at least — constructs rosters around receivers. Many have described this class as deep, so, in theory, Atlanta should be able to find quality pass catchers with their other selections.

Now, saying all of this is pointless if the Falcons have London, Wilson, or any other receiver prospect ranked highly. If the front office does, then they’ll absolutely select one of them. Aidan Hutchinson (long shot), Ikem Ekwonu, Evan Neal, Travon Walker (long shot), Sauce Gardner, Kyle Hamilton, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Jermaine Johnson II, and Derek Stingley Jr. should all be higher than London and Wilson on Atlanta’s big board.

Quarterback is undoubtedly in play too. The Falcons quickly signed Marcus Mariota to a two-year deal after trading Matt Ryan to the Colts for a measly third-rounder. The former Heisman Trophy winner will be the stopgap starter until Fontenot finds the team’s long-term signal caller. Fontenot and Arthur Smith spoke to the media on Tuesday, stating they’d like to come away from the draft with a quarterback. However, that doesn’t exactly mean their first-round pick will be the selection used.

Since draft season began, I’ve been saying this: no quarterback prospect is worth the eighth overall selection. That doesn’t mean Atlanta won’t come away with a project-esque prospect in the later rounds or even in the back end of the first. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Falcons traded back into the first round to select a signal caller, but, one thing is for sure, they won’t be drafting one at eight.

Photographer: John Byrum/Icon Sportswire



Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: