Everyone who follows this site knows I want to trade down more than anything, but if Atlanta does decide to hold strong, who should the team draft? If you want to check out my last Mock Draft with two trades down, you can find that here.
The Jets are rumored to be sticking with Sam Darnold (via Adam Schefter), and Miami trading down or for Deshaun Watson seems almost inevitable. I wrote about how a Deshaun Watson move to Miami would greatly benefit the Falcons, as it could leave both quarterbacks available for Atlanta to choose between. Two of the main reasons I want to trade down are that I think Arthur Smith can succeed with Matt Ryan at quarterback for an extended period of time & there aren’t many great defensive options in the top five picks. Keep in mind, this may be different than what the team chooses to do, but without a trade down available — these are the guys that I personally like with the fourth pick. With Dean Pees rumored to be coming to Atlanta, I’ll be considering personnel for the 3-4 defense that I’ve long been asking for.
This will become a series, so be on the lookout for the 10-21 Big Board and so on going forward!
5. WR Ja’Marr Chase or WR Devonta Smith
Wide receiver is near the bottom of my list of team needs right now. However, if you’re stuck at four and all three of the quarterbacks are gone, it’s hard to pass up one of these game-changers. I’d probably give the edge to Chase, but both guys bring a lot to the table. If (when) Lawrence goes first, the Jets select a quarterback, and Miami trades down with a quarterback-needy team — Atlanta would have to pivot away. There are options I like better, but these guys would come into play a lot more.
Prospect fatigue & recency bias may have some favoring Smith over Chase, but looking at the 2019 LSU tape, Ja’Marr is the obvious choice to me. He possesses elite ball skills and athleticism, and he is liable to take the top off of the defense and torch an opposing DB at any moment. He’s still developing a route tree, but this is how you get Arthur Smith his new AJ Brown. I wouldn’t cry over Devonta Smith either. He is a very polished and athletic product with elite route-running skills; pairing him with Julio Jones & Calvin Ridley would be a fun story as well.
In the end, regardless of either option, this would still be a luxury pick when Atlanta has way bigger needs.
4. LB Micah Parsons or CB Patrick Surtain II
Last guys that I’m lumping together, but I wrote a piece yesterday about how there wasn’t really a defensive prospect worth taking with the fourth overall pick. I think Micah Parsons is a fantastic linebacker who can do a little bit of everything, but he would be the third true WILL on the roster when Atlanta desperately needs a pass-rushing presence. The linebackers are the strength of this Falcons defense right now, and while I like Parsons — he’s a reach at four when he isn’t playing a premium position like EDGE or corner. Trading back and getting Parsons or Owusu-Koramoah is fine, just not at four.
If I had to select a defender here, I’d have to bet on the talent of Patrick Surtain II. This wasn’t the Alabama defense we were used to, but Surtain is a do-it-all corner with size, athleticism, and ball skills. He’s a tad slower than you would like to be taken this early, which would likely cause me to shy away. Regardless, outside of AJ Terrell (who was torched in the final three weeks), this secondary needs tons of help. Isaiah Oliver is a question mark, and there will be massive holes at safety. Atlanta could do worse than upgrading the secondary.
Both of these guys could be available with a trade down, and even if not, I wouldn’t lose sleep over missing out on them. The next three are the major choices.
3. QB Justin Fields
The Falcons will end up with a choice between one of these three next names at minimum, so thankfully, they do have some options. If you want my full opinion on Justin Fields, check out my article here on why he could be a great fit in Atlanta, along with some other information on a name coming up. Fields had a legendary performance against Clemson in the College Football Playoff, and while he struggled against Alabama, that isn’t the proper way to evaluate an NFL quarterback. Determining if a quarterback is franchise-changing is all about traits & intangibles.
Some of these things can be fixed, some cannot. He rarely looks past his first option, and that doesn’t fly in the NFL. On the bright side, Fields has the ideal combination of arm, size, and athleticism. He takes good care of the football, which is promising considering he isn’t asked to do too much. Fields is a ball of clay that isn’t a finished product yet, but with Arthur Smith’s quarterback friendly offense and Matt Ryan available to mentor him, he should be hoping to drop to the Falcons. It would be the best situation for him out of any team selecting in the top ten.
2. LT Penei Sewell
Inconsistent offensive line play has plagued Matt Ryan throughout his career, and while Jake Matthews is a good left tackle, there are multiple holes on this line. However, you cannot draft him at four to play guard. Jake Matthews would need to show some chops on the interior. Sewell is only 20 years old, and he is as physically gifted as you will find in this draft, but for as dominant as he is, he can still improve his technique. His mix of upside, intangibles, and immediate impact make him too tough to resist if my next guy is not available.
1. QB Zach Wilson
Now that Arthur Smith is in the fold, the debate surrounding Zach Wilson vs. Justin Fields may finally cool off a bit. Personally, I’m in favor of Zach Wilson over Justin Fields — and you can read why in this full breakdown. Like I said with Fields, you have to evaluate traits and intangibles. Zach Wilson just does things that cannot be taught so well. On top of being a great athlete with a rocket arm, he has good size and progresses through multiple reads in his offense — something Fields does not do. However, I think the most impressive thing about Wilson is his pocket presence. He uses his athleticism to escape and run or launch his beautiful deep ball when things go south.
That’s the type of quarterback you need in today’s NFL. Outside of Father Time, Tom Brady — Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Aaron Rodgers are the three QBs left in the playoffs. They all improvise exceptionally well. While I think Fields would develop into a great quarterback in Atlanta’s organization: I think Zach Wilson will be a game-changing franchise quarterback from Day One. I think he’s a much more finished product, and because of his “unteachable” traits — he’s my guy if the Falcons pick at four, and he’s available.