This is the first installment of a comprehensive positional roster breakdown for Falcons following April’s draft — beginning with the most important position in all of football, quarterback. Many thought Terry Fontenot would address the position with the fourth pick by way of Trey Lance or Justin Fields, but clearly, the Falcons’ regime didn’t value Fields in the same way as Kyle Pitts; Lance’s value will forever be unknown as the 49ers picked him before Atlanta was on the clock. There are now three rostered quarterbacks, but I would feel safe in saying Arthur Smith will be comfortable entering the season with just two on the 53-man active roster.
The offense in Atlanta will go as Matty Ice goes, powered by Arthur Smith’s innovative scheme. Ryan and Smith will carry this team as the defense lacks game-changing personnel, but I feel each is up for the task. “They hired the wrong guys if they thought we were going to lower expectations, take our time, and rebuild,” Smith said. “That’s just not who we are. The expectation is to win now, build for the future, have plans.” Fontenot and Smith’s plans — whether they were in place before the draft or not — revolve around their veteran quarterback.
Before the McCarron signing, Ryan was the only rostered quarterback. Given the timing of the free-agent acquisition, there could’ve been some speculation that if Lance had fallen, McCarron’s deal would’ve ceased to exist. Regardless, the former Alabama star is a reliable backup that nearly won a playoff game if it weren’t for a couple of ill-timed penalties. McCarron — a fifth-round pick in 2014 by the Bengals — has thrown for 1,173 yards, six touchdowns, and three interceptions. A journeyman backup, the 30-year-old has played in 17 NFL games — starting four — with the Bengals (2014-17), Raiders (2018), and Texans (2019-20).
As a Gator, Franks had a disappointing career partially due to injuries, but he transferred to Arkansas and played his best football to date — completing 163/238 of his passes for 2,107 yards, 17 touchdowns, and four interceptions. He improved at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, which sparked some to believe he could climb draft boards into the later rounds, but ultimately, he signed with the Falcons as an UDFA. I wouldn’t expect Franks to beat McCarron out for the second position on the depth chart, and I don’t expect him to make the 53-man roster — a potential candidate for the practice squad.