Falcons fans, prepare yourselves for an entire offseason of quarterback controversy. Much like last offseason, the narrative surrounding Matt Ryan and Atlanta’s potential rebuild should be at the forefront of the news cycle. It is a reasonable topic to explore as well.
The Falcons roster, as it stands, isn’t going to do anything meaningful in the postseason. There are significant deficiencies at several critical positions that the best teams in the league are the strongest. Most of the Falcons’ problems could be solved by bolstering the trenches with both top-end talent and depth pieces.
However, that seems further away than anticipated. The defensive front needs a total makeover, and the offensive line can be immediately upgraded in at least two areas. With such an expensive and aging quarterback, there’s always going to be speculation surrounding Ryan’s standing in Atlanta and who will eventually replace him. Last NFL draft, the Falcons elected to pass on that successor in what was an incredibly rich quarterback draft. The 2022 draft will be different, but that didn’t stop the folks at Pro Football Focus from mocking the Falcons a quarterback with their first-round pick.
🚨 MOCK DRAFT MONDAY 🚨
— PFF (@PFF) December 27, 2021
10. ATLANTA FALCONS: QB KENNY PICKETT, PITTSBURGH
While the Falcons are randomly 7-8, they are still a team with a -122 point differential and require a new direction at the league’s most important position. Pickett, who led the entire country in wins above average in 2021, would likely first sit behind Matt Ryan, who carries a $40.5 dead cap charge if released before June 1 next year. The Falcons offense is very quarterback-friendly with play action, a situation in which Pickett generated 9.4 yards per pass attempt this year.
SportsTalkATL’s Jake Gordon is our self-proclaimed mock draft guy, and he mocked the Falcons selecting Pickett back in October… but with their second-round pick.
Round 2, Pick 50: QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
I probably would have gone Jahan Dotson out of Penn State or Adam Anderson out of Georgia again in this spot, but I took them in previous weeks, so I’ll mix it up.
This isn’t a great quarterback class, but perhaps nobody has improved their draft stock more this season than Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett. He has led Pittsburgh to a 6-1 record, including last Saturday’s win over Clemson. Pickett is a classic gunslinger, so he can generate a lot of mistakes from being overconfident. However, he is relatively mobile and a supremely talented passer. He can push the ball to all three levels of the field and is a very experienced quarterback as a redshirt senior. I had a few options in mind here, but I’ll mix it up and go with Pickett to replace Matt Ryan in two or three years.