This offseason is set up to be an exciting one for the Falcons. They have the eighth overall selection in the draft and could have over $70 million in cap space to spend. Atlanta should look like a much better team in 2023, considering there are so many areas where the front office can upgrade the roster, but they will never be contenders until they figure out the quarterback position. There are several options the Falcons could go at the position this offseason. My personal preference is sticking with Ridder and seeing if he can be the franchise guy over a full season, but Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith could also trade for a more proven signal caller or even add another through the draft for the second consecutive season.
I’ve never once called myself a quarterback guru. It is the most difficult position in all sports to predict, which is why so many franchises get it wrong repeatedly. However, I like this crop of quarterbacks and think any of these guys could be in play for the Falcons in a few months.
Of all the quarterback prospects, Anthony Richardson is the most intriguing to me. He’s built like Cam Newton and can run like him as well. However, his accuracy leaves much to be desired. He only completed 53.8% of his passes in his final season at Florida. That’s not going to cut it at the next level, even with his tremendous rushing ability. I do think the fit is interesting for the Falcons; Arthur Smith values mobility in his quarterbacks, but Richardson is going to be a long-term project wherever he lands, and I have a feeling a desperate team will end up spending a high draft pick on him.
I watched Hooker all season and see no reason why he can’t become a starting-caliber NFL quarterback. He has the ideal size for a QB and a terrific arm. Hooker’s also very good with his progressions and reading defenses. There is a reason he was the Heisman favorite for much of the year. The biggest knocks on Hooker are his age and the ACL injury he suffered at the end of the season. There’s a high probability he won’t even be ready to compete for a starting quarterback job until he’s 27, and if he struggles early, his NFL career could be a short one. With that being said, he’s one of the more polished prospects in the 2023 NFL draft and likely could be had on day 2 or 3.
3. Will Levis
I try to avoid falling into the trap of flashy traits that fail to produce tangible results. There are thousands of quarterbacks with huge arms, and only a few pan out in the NFL. Not everyone is going to be the next Josh Allen. However, it’s impossible to ignore the projectability with Levis. He will be a combine warrior with his incredible arm and athleticism. Levis can make every pass and is accurate, but perhaps most importantly, he can make things happen off-script. His decision-making needs a lot of work. He threw 23 interceptions over his final 24 games at Kentucky, but I try to imagine the numbers he would have put up if he had the talent around him like Bryce Young or CJ Stroud. It would have been scary. I would have no problem if the Falcons ended up selecting Levis with the 8th overall pick.
2. CJ Stroud
The final two quarterbacks are probably only realistic if the Falcons are willing to trade up, which is a possibility. If Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith feel like Stroud or Young is their guy, they should sell whatever it takes to acquire them. They better just hope they are right if they do. I think Stroud locked himself in as the second-best quarterback in the draft with his performance against Georgia, and he may have entered himself into the conversation for the #1 overall pick. There isn’t a throw on the field Stroud can’t make. He’s a leader in the huddle and has all the intangibles necessary to be successful in the NFL. His athleticism is also a plus. I would be over the moon if the Falcons somehow landed Stroud.
1. Bryce Young
Bryce Young is a superstar and sure feels like a can’t-miss quarterback prospect. He’s one of the best quarterbacks in college football, and I would be shocked if he’s not selected first overall. Young is one of those blue-chip prospects that everyone wants. There is no throw he can’t make on the field, and he’s a natural leader. The only knock anyone can make on Young is his size. It isn’t ideal, but I think smaller quarterbacks have proven in recent years that it’s possible to succeed in the NFL without being 6’3″.
Photographer: Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire