Falcons: 2021 NFL Draft late round quarterback options

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There’s still a possibility that Atlanta selects a quarterback fourth overall, but I’m very keen on trading down and getting some extra picks. Regardless, with Matt Schaub retiring — the Falcons will need some competition alongside Kurt Benkert for the backup quarterback role. This is a very strong class at the top that tails off a lot in later rounds, typical of most classes. I really liked Brock Purdy and Desmond Ridder later in this draft, but they’ll both return to school for different reasons. As you’ll see below, after the big names — this quarterback class takes a pretty big dip.


Kyle Trask, Florida


I don’t think Kyle Trask is a terrible quarterback for a team like Atlanta that can afford to develop him for a few years, but I think the range he’s going to be picked in is too early for the Falcons. This class is insanely deep at safety and defensive line, two of the sorest spots on Atlanta’s roster. While trading back could remedy some of these issues, I still think Trask would be unwise in the third round. Yes, his college numbers are very impressive — but I don’t evaluate NFL QBs based on the box score. Trask is a statue back in the pocket, and while he makes some impressive throws, he isn’t a model of consistency. He could still be a fantastic NFL quarterback, but when taking a quarterback late, I would like a higher ceiling rather than a higher floor, especially with Matt Ryan as a mentor.


Jamie Newman, Wake Forest


As a UGA student, I refuse to put that tag next to Newman’s name. Newman undoubtedly has some impressive tape, but I think he seriously hurt his draft stock by sitting 2020 out. Rumors are rumors, but apparently, Todd Monken and Newman did not get along — leading to his opt-out. However, Newman is a big arm quarterback with tons of mobility. He has the ideal body and athletic profile for an NFL quarterback, but he can stare down his targets and create unnecessary turnovers with his mechanics. Once again, not as big of an issue with a guy like Matt Ryan in the fold, but Newman has a LOT of development to do before he looks like 2019 Jamie Newman in the NFL. While I don’t care for him after ruining my team’s season before it started, I think he’s the best option for a late-round guy if his character checks out in interviews.


Sam Ehlinger, Texas


It felt like Sam Ehlinger was at Texas since Colt McCoy left, but he shows some positive traits that point to upside as an NFL signal-caller. He is insanely competitive, has done well mechanically, and can throw guys open. While his actual arm talent leaves a lot to be desired, he’s a tough runner and can certainly lead a team. He gets clowned for his “We’re baaaaaaaack” moment, but he put Texas on his shoulders a lot of times and kept them in plenty of football games. I don’t think he’s as raw as many of the names on this list, but it also means he’s likely closer to his ceiling, which isn’t very high.


Zac Thomas, App State


As a Georgia Southern Alum, I got plenty of Zac Thomas in my life. His physical tools are pretty average, and while he did lead a good App State program, I don’t see much that would lead me to believe he’s an NFL quarterback. He makes some decent throws on the run and is very good with play-action, but I don’t think his mechanical prowess in that department will lead to him becoming anything but a decent UDFA pickup.


Shane Buechele, SMU


Speaking of Texas, here’s the guy Ehlinger beat out for the starting job. He was a good decision maker distributing the ball quickly in an air raid offense, but that’s not much of a compliment. He has average arm-strength with a wonky motion and doesn’t really offer much as a runner. 


Tanner Morgan, Minnesota


I haven’t seen anything about Tanner Morgan returning to school, but he should. Morgan was pretty accurate downfield in 2019. However, his accuracy took a nosedive in 2020. The five picks he threw in five games reflect that. He doesn’t offer much as a runner, but he can move around the pocket fairly well. I think he should return to Minnesota because, for now, I wouldn’t be interested in taking him as anything other than an UDFA.


Feleipe Franks, Arkansas


I’ve clowned Franks for a long time, but he could be one of the better quarterbacks to come out of the later rounds of this draft. He is massive and has an absolute cannon, but sometimes he stares down his targets and throws a lot of bad interceptions, but these are things that can be fixed with coaching. I would take him as an UDFA, but he’s not worth a draft pick for me. 


KJ Costello, Mississippi State


Everyone was ready to crown Costello QB1 after he shredded LSU in Mississippi State’s season opener, but Mike Leach’s squad fell off a cliff after that game. He is a massive quarterback that can zip the ball unlike anyone else, but he still runs an air raid offense that rarely translates to the NFL unless you’re Pat Mahomes. Mechanically, Costello is actually pretty sound. He makes a lot of great throws, and you can’t ignore the “wow” moments on his tape. In the same breath, he makes a lot of throws that will leave you scratching your head. While I love a quarterback that trusts his arm, he can trust it a little too much at times. I’d take Costello at some point, but it would have to be on day three. He needs a LOT of seasoning, but he has some impressive tools.


Brady White, Memphis


The Paxton Lynch stink may never wash off of Memphis quarterback prospects, but Brady White is certainly interesting on day three. White has the size of an NFL quarterback, but he worked in a one-read rhythm offense for Memphis. His arm strength isn’t anything close to what Lynch had, but he’s good at moving out of the pocket and hitting guys on the run. I think he offers a lot of what Kurt Benkert offers, so he doesn’t make much sense to bring in if you’re gambling on a late-round prospect.


Kellen Mond, Texas A&M


I think a guy like Kellen Mond would be great if the Falcons are going to roll the dice on a late-round guy. After his freshman season, fans were expecting Mond to make a big-time leap and become an upper-echelon SEC quarterback. I don’t think Mond was particularly bad, but he never made the big jump. He has decent size and athleticism, but they’re not eye-popping traits. His consistency and mechanics need work, but his development stalling while at A&M is a concern for me. He’s still a pretty good athlete with a good arm, so I could get behind the selection since he will have time to develop.


Ian Book, Notre Dame


Book is the classic successful college quarterback, but I think he offers just a tad more than Trask. He does make some impressive throws and can deliver some dots when he rolls out, but his athleticism is pretty average. His arm strength is pretty limited, but he is a solid improviser that can deliver on short routes. I love this quote from ProFootballNetwork:

If you favor the Bill Parcells rules of selecting quarterbacks, Book is the rare signal-caller that checks all of the boxes.

He is a three-year starter. He is a senior in college who graduated in the spring. He’s completed over 60% of his passes and has a touchdown-to-interception ratio over 2:1. Book is also Notre Dame’s winningest quarterback with over 30 wins. Thus, he checks Parcells’ game requirements as well.

Parcells’ rules aren’t the gospel. Parcells drafted Chad Henne in Round 2 with the Miami Dolphins, and we know how that turned out. But there is something to be said for Book’s experience, leadership ability, and competitive fire, and his legitimate functional athleticism serves as a bonus. He might not be a starting quarterback in the NFL, but he has what you want in a quality backup.

Parcells’ rules aren’t the gospel. Parcells drafted Chad Henne in Round 2 with the Miami Dolphins, and we know how that turned out. But there is something to be said for Book’s experience, leadership ability, and competitive fire, and his legitimate functional athleticism serves as a bonus. He might not be a starting quarterback in the NFL, but he has what you want in a quality backup.

It’s pretty bleak when I’m saying Jamie Newman is the only guy I’d consider in the middle rounds of this draft, but the lack of upside in the later rounds may spur Atlanta to stay at four and take a quarterback. Replacing Matt Ryan this year is not a necessity, but the middle rounds of this draft don’t offer much in terms of developmental projects.

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