Falcons: Ranking the incoming rookie QBs that could land in Atlanta

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After Monday’s games, the Falcons are currently slated to pick 8th in the upcoming NFL Draft. That position could get even better over the last four weeks given Atlanta has to play Tampa Bay twice, Kansas City, and a pesky Chargers team (although they didn’t look like it against the Patriots). There’s real potential for the Falcons to pick inside the top 5, but either way, there will likely be multiple high-quality QBs that could be the future in Atlanta.

I’m not necessarily advocating for the Falcons to take a quarterback with their first-round pick. Matt Ryan clearly isn’t the issue right now. With a competent play-caller, he can still lead this team to the Super Bowl and probably has around three good seasons remaining. However, this quarterback class is loaded. The Falcons will have an opportunity to evaluate all the candidates, and if they feel they found their next franchise quarterback, you really can’t pass up on that. It’s also possible that one or two of these guys slip to the second round, given how stacked this quarterback class is. Because Atlanta will not be picking first, I excluded Trevor Lawrence from this list, but every other quarterback could be within reaching distance come draft day.

5. Kyle Trask

Trask is having an unbelievable year for Florida, and if he delivers a gem in the SEC Championship game against Alabama, he could be this year’s Heisman Trophy winner. He’s your prototypical pocket passing quarterback standing at 6’5″ and weighing nearly 240 pounds. To this point, Trask has yet to throw for less than three touchdowns in a game. He’s also thrown six touchdowns twice. He’s been insanely accurate at all three levels and may have proven enough in just this season to warrant a first-round draft pick. We’ll see if the Falcons value him that highly, but if he falls to the second round, he could be someone that Atlanta cannot pass up.

4. Zach Wilson

I’m interested in seeing how Zach Wilson’s stock fluctuates. Most people seem to think he’s going to go in the top 10, but I wonder if his suspect performance against Coastal Carolina — easily BYU’s stiffest competition this season — will impact that.

The junior has earned the nickname “The Mormon Johnny Manziel”, and their games are very similar when forced outside of the pocket. However, Wilson has much better size for the NFL, standing at 6’3″. He also has a stronger arm and is a more accurate passer than Manziel.

Wilson is never going to rush for 1,000 yards in the NFL, but he is plenty athletic enough to make plays with his feet. Like Russell Wilson, though, he’s generally looking to affect the game with his arm down the field once he leaves the pocket. I could see him going anywhere from pick 2 to 20, and the Falcons will undoubtedly have him on their radar.

3. Mac Jones

I’m higher on Mac Jones than most. The guy has been electric this year for the Crimson Tide, and if the season ended today, he would likely win the Heisman Trophy. Coming into this year I don’t think he was on the radar of very many NFL teams, but neither was Joe Burrow before his senior season. He’s turned out just fine so far for the Bengals.

Organizations that still think Jones’ value is in rounds 2-4 are mistaken. He has all the tools to succeed at the next level. He’s not extremely athletic but possesses good enough footwork to evade pressure in the pocket and has tremendous accuracy when he’s on the move. His deep ball accuracy is as good as you’ll see at any level, and that is something he’s shown off ever since he was forced to replace Tua last season.

Sure, Jones benefits from playing with the best talent in college football, but he’d be a fantastic candidate to sit behind Matt Ryan for a couple of seasons and soak everything in. Judging by his patience and progression during his time at Alabama, it may be something he’d like to do coming into the league.

2. Trey Lance

Unfortunately, the world hasn’t gotten to see much of Lance in 2020 thanks to Covid. He only played in one game, completing 15 of his 30 passes for 149 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Not exactly sensational, but he did show off his dual-threat ability by rushing for nearly 150 yards and two more touchdowns.

More and more NFL teams are shifting to offensive systems that prefer mobile quarterbacks like Lance. He was made for today’s game, which is why I expect him to be one of the top three quarterbacks taken. He may not be as developed as a passer as the guys behind him on this list, but his potential makes him perhaps the most attractive candidate outside of Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields.

1. Justin Fields

Fields is unlikely to fall to the Falcons. I would be incredibly surprised if he isn’t take in the top two picks. However, I’ve seen some mocks that have him going around 10th, so there remains an outside shot that Atlanta could bring Fields back home.

The Ohio State quarterback has been insanely accurate since taking over the starting job last season. He led the Buckeyes to an undefeated regular season and a College Football Playoff berth behind an eye-popping 41/3 TD-INT rate, and he’s only improved as a junior. Fields is completing his passes at a ridiculous 78.1% clip and already has 15 passing touchdowns in just five games.

Of course, Fields is more than just a passing quarterback. He had ten touchdowns and nearly 500 yards on the ground last season and is on a similar pace this season, racking up 239 yards and five scores in five games. Some may question how his game translates to the NFL, but I would argue Fields is the prototype of what most NFL GMs are looking for now at the quarterback position. If he somehow falls to Atlanta, I don’t think there is any way they can pass him up.

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