By now, it’s no secret the Atlanta Falcons are open to moving out of their No. 4 overall pick. In fact, they have already been in several trade talks with possible suitors to flip-flop with.
According to Pro Football Focus, there is one team that needs a quarterback more than the Falcons do at No. 4 overall, and that’s the Denver Broncos. PFF has Denver leapfrogging from their No. 9 slot to select quarterback Trey Lance.
The first thing that people mention regarding Lance is his physical ability. That’s for good reason. He has a cannon and would immediately become one of the better rushing quarterbacks in the NFL. The mental side of his game should be getting more love, though.
The Broncos have a legitimate, playoff-caliber roster assuming they get even average quarterback play. Drew Lock (62.1 PFF grade since 2019) hasn’t shown enough through his first two years in the NFL to have much confidence in that assumption entering 2021. The addition of Lance gives Denver one of the most talented quarterbacks in a loaded 2021 class and a better opportunity to find their guy at the game’s most important position.
It would be a risk to sit back and wait with teams such as the Panthers and Patriots standing out as prime candidates to move up themselves.
This move for Lance is not too far of a stretch, considering he’s expected to still be on the board with Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, and Mac Jones set to go first.
Now, what would the Falcons do at No. 9 overall?
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If the Falcons Trade Back, Who Might They Pick?
According to CBS Sports, the players listed below are the top 10 NFL draft prospects in 2021’s draft class (not in any relative order except No.1 overall):
1.Trevor Lawrence, Clemson QB
2.Penei Sewell, Oregon OL
3.Ja’Marr Chase, LSU WR
4.Zach Wilson, BYU QB
5. Micah Parson, Penn State LB
6. Justin Fields, OSU QB
7. Jaylen Waddle, Alabama WR
8. DeVante Smith, Alabama WR
9. Kyle Pitts, Florida TE
10. Trey Lance, NDSU
Of course, Lawrence is set to go No. 1 overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars. From there, the rest is really a mystery. In fact, Jones is the favorite to go to the San Francisco 49ers, but CBS Sports doesn’t even him having to go off the boards in the top 10.
If the Falcons are not going to take Matt Ryan’s successor at No. 4 overall, then they will need to address another position with the 9th selection. Ryan will be repping black and red until at least 2023, so it really wouldn’t make sense to draft a quarterback for their first pick. There is way too much talent in this year’s draft that they could use immediately instead of sitting behind Ryan to grow.
That takes us to Atlanta’s needs. The next best position player outside of quarterback in this draft class has to be Florida product, Kyle Pitts. The Falcons could use another tight end to play alongside Hayden Hurst since new head coach Arthur Smith is accustomed to running two tight end formations.
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Pitts is a Unicorn, His Coach Says
In an unusual 2020 season, Pitts continued to perform at a high level, catching 43 passes for 770 yards and 12 touchdowns in just eight games.
Falcons head coach Arthur Smith took the time to head to Gainsville to watch the Florida star in action where he ran an unofficial 4.44 40-yard dash at 6-foot-five and 245 pounds.
Following his notable performance, Pitts said he believes the Falcons are “pretty interested” in him and the two parties have had “multiple” Zoom meetings. They also spoke again after his workout to plan and “talk on Zoom again in the future.”
One of Pitts’ biggest fans is Gators head coach, Dan Mullen, who would describe him as a unicorn.
“His ability to create matchup problems (is what makes Pitts a standout in this draft),” Mullen said via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I think he’s an elite wide receiver and I think he’s an elite tight end. When you’re that, that’s what causes the problem of what personnel grouping that you’re in, who you’re going to match up against him.
“I was in a meeting one day, and some guy came up and said he’s kind of like a unicorn. The only way you can defend a unicorn is with another unicorn. If you don’t have a unicorn on defense, you have a problem.”
Pitts would be the best option at trading back, but there is also Penei Sewell, Ja’Marr Chase, and Patrick Surtain II. And even if the Falcons don’t move out at No. 4, drafting Pitts is still like hitting a goldmine.