This article is not indicative of my thoughts on the future at quarterback in Atlanta. It’s simply an informative piece of possibilities surrounding Matt Ryan‘s successor. Personally, I would urge the new regime to formulate a way to compete with Ryan while developing the future franchise quarterback behind him. That quarterback would ideally be selected in the 2022 NFL Draft after a year of Ryan playing in a new system, but it is anyone’s guess of what could happen this offseason.
The scenario in which Atlanta lands in the position to draft Lawrence entails losing many more games this season. Coming out of college as the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck or Peyton Manning, Lawrence possesses all the physical and mental attributes necessary to succeed as a quarterback in the NFL.
Physically, Lawrence was made in a lab cultivated specifically to play football. He has all the arm talent in the world, both strength and accuracy throwing when short, intermediate, and deep routes. He is athletic enough to threaten a defense with his feet and escapability, as he showed against Ohio State. His big-bodied frame enables him to take more punishment than most. Mentally, he is even better. He possesses intangible qualities that make his teammates better. His decision making, leadership, football IQ, and the laundry list of other positives is why he will be taken No. 1 overall this April.
Unless the Falcons lose a lot more games this season, there is no hope to land Lawrence. If Atlanta is able to make a move, they should surely offer Ryan and/or Julio Jones to land Lawrence. The new offensive system would have endless possibilities to attack opposing defenses with Lawrence under center.
The situation where the Falcons land Fields is a much more likely outcome than the previous one. Fields grew up in Georgia, attending Harrison High School, which is under an hour away from the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The bottom-ten teams in the league record-wise are the Jets, Giants, Washington Football Team, Jaguars, Dolphins, Chargers, Bengals, and Cowboys. The Dolphins, Chargers, and Bengals all have who they believe to be their franchise quarterback on their rosters. The Jets, Giants, and Cowboys’ situations are speculative, but I assume Dak Prescott, Sam Darnold, and Daniel Jones are the future for their teams. That leaves the Washington Football Team, Jaguars, and Falcons as potential landing spots for quarterbacks this year in the top-ten.
Fields’ skill set is ideal for the new wave of quarterbacks in the NFL. He has the arm talent and athleticism to fit into multiple offensive schemes. He had a late start to this year, which probably means he will need to land with a patient organization to refine and develop his craft. Fields would likely be available when the Falcons pick, whereas Lawrence will require compensation to get the No. 1 pick. I would compare him to Deshaun Watson; although bigger, he is just as dynamic with the ball in his hands. Drafting Fields to sit behind Ryan until it is more financially reasonable to get rid of him is ideal for Field’s growth. Ryan would be a great mentor on and off the field.
The drop off from Lawrence to Fields and Lance is astronomical. Fields is a better athlete with more arm talent than Lance, but do not let the division he plays in undersell his potential. Carson Wentz has proven exactly why NFL teams should consider someone like Lance.
Lance has all the tools necessary to develop into a starting-caliber NFL quarterback, but his sample size may cause some cold feet. Where Lance may have the advantage over Fields is how poised the North Dakota State product plays. Lance would serve better in an offense that allows him to use his feet, much like Fields. Sitting behind Ryan to improve physically and mentally would pay massive dividends for his and the team’s futures.
Jamie Newman is in a similar situation as Trey Lance. Newman transferred from Wake Forrest to UGA rather than enter the 2020 NFL draft; many analysts gave him a day-two grade. He instead opted out of this season, which could really hurt his chances of being a first-round selection.
Newman still possesses qualities that in the right situation could result in a lustrous career. It seems every prospect nowadays has more mobility than the generation of quarterbacks before them. Newman is no different, good enough arm combined with athleticism. He has shown the upside in drafting him but will need to grow mentally. His progressions and anticipation need to improve drastically, but this is something very few prospects enter the league already capable of.
This is another ideal candidate to sit and develop behind Ryan as his contract expires. Newman’s dual-threat capabilities afford the person tasked with bringing a new offensive system to Atlanta more flexibility.
The top three quarterbacks are concrete, where it gets fluid is fourth through sixth. Newman, Trask, Brock Purdy of Iowa State, Kellen Mond of A&M, and Mac Jones of Alabama are all scrambled after the top three. So keep an eye out for those stocks to continue to rise along with Trasks.
Kyle Trask has been unbelievable thus far. He has shown exactly why Florida moved on from Felipe Franks.
Trask is as natural of a passer as anyone in this class. He is the least-mobile quarterback in this article, but he is not Tom Brady or Peyton Manning immobile. Trask has shown great anticipation and ball placement. Obviously, Trask would have to develop behind Ryan, but he is closer in play style to Ryan than any other prospect is.
Outside of Lawrence, every quarterback in this draft would benefit from sitting behind Ryan for at least a year. Since Lawrence does not need to sit and develop, using Ryan and Julio Jones as trade pieces would be wise to jump to the first pick. The rest of the quarterback prospects would be sensible to soak everything they can if they did sit behind Ryan. Keeping Ryan is financially responsible, but if Lawrence is within reach, logic should not matter.