Mock draft season is well underway, and Mel Kiper’s most recent mock correlates with what PFF recently had the Falcons doing in their latest mock draft, except for a different quarterback. The Falcons traded up to the third spot with the Dolphins in PFF’s mock, selecting Justin Fields out of Ohio State. Kiper also has the Falcons trading up, except he sees them moving up to two, trading with the Jets and taking BYU’s Zach Wilson. Here’s his explanation:
This is the Falcons’ chance to reboot. Matt Ryan has started 205 games for the franchise since he was drafted third overall in 2008, but he turns 36 in May. Trading up to get Wilson would help sort the future under new coach Arthur Smith and general manager Terry Fontenot. Remember, if you’re Smith and Fontenot, you don’t expect to be drafting this high, so you never know when you’re going to have a chance on a quarterback like Wilson. They have to get their guy now. Ryan would likely remain the starter in 2021 while Wilson adjusts to the pro game. He could take over in 2022. Ohio State’s Justin Fields could be in play, too, but I see Wilson as the ideal option for the Falcons.
Now, I don’t find Kiper or PFF’s scenarios extremely likely, but I will reiterate something I’ve said on many occasions so far this offseason — if Terry Fontenot and the Falcons’ new regime feel like they have found their next franchise quarterback, they should do everything possible to ensure he ends up in Atlanta, even if that means giving up a few picks to move up just a couple of spots.
Whether the Falcons take a quarterback with their first-round pick or not, Matt Ryan will almost assuredly be the starter next season. That shouldn’t deter Fontenot and company either way, though, because outside of Trevor Lawrence, all of these quarterbacks — as talented as they may be — could use a year to learn behind a potential Hall of Famer like Ryan.