Why J.J. McCarthy is the most intriguing draft prospect for Falcons

NFL: MAR 01 Scouting Combine

NFL free agency is around the corner and it could hold the answer to who will be under center for the Falcons in 2024. Soon after, the NFL Draft will commence in late April, and there are a plethora of enticing avenues for Terry Fontenot to explore.

If they want to bolster the defense, particularly a pass rush that’s been anemic for over a decade, Dallas Turner or Jared Verse could be available. Malik Nabers and Rome Odunze would give Drake London a running mate, resulting in one of the most exciting skill position groups in the league. A cornerstone at the offensive tackle position? The draft has plenty of those, and don’t count out Georgia Bulldogs legend Brock Bowers either. Terry Fontenot has shown he’s going to take the best player available, regardless of position.

But like with everything in Atlanta, the NFL Draft will revolve around the quarterback position, which is why J.J. McCarthy is the single biggest wild card in this entire process.

First and foremost, McCarthy could be in play with the Falcons’ 8th pick in the draft. Most NFL reporters came away from the combine with the sense that the Michigan quarterback will be a top ten pick, perhaps even the top five. Even if the Falcons nab a quarterback in free agency, McCarthy could be an option to come in and sit for a couple of years before taking over the reins.

But the even more intriguing scenario is if J.J. McCarthy goes in the top five, and it’s not the Falcons drafting him. Some believe McCarthy could be in play as high as #2. If that comes to fruition, one of Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels could fall to the Cardinals, who have already said they are open to moving out of the pick as they stick with Kyler Murray. That opens the door for the Falcons to potentially trade up and grab a quarterback that wasn’t thought to be available before.

Most would call that a dream scenario for Atlanta, but there’s also a chance that the J.J. McCarthy hype is all smoke, and he falls in the draft. It’s a scenario Pro Football Focus recently laid out, as they had the Falcons trading back up into the first round to draft McCarthy — their potential quarterback of the future — and still landing one of the top edge rushers in Jared Verse.

The NFL Draft is consistently one of the most unpredictable events in sports, which is what makes the first-round must-watch television every year. There isn’t a more polarizing prospect heading into April than J.J. McCarthy, and how teams view him could dictate what direction the Falcons go in a couple of months.

Photo: Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire

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