By: Ladarius Brown
In my previous pieces regarding the Falcons No. 4 pick in this year’s NFL Draft, I have been an advocate of holding on to the pick. The only way that I would give up such a highly-touted pick is unless there is a package that involves multiple 1st round picks. Look at what the GM Chris Grier & the Dolphins got from John Lynch & the 49ers:
As you can see, this was for the pick just above the Falcons. This haul is an ideal package for GM Terry Fontenot to consider. However, there are two other reasons the Falcons need to trade back in the draft.
The Falcons need help on the defensive side of the ball. There is no defensive player worth a top 5 pick and there might not be a defensive player drafted until around picking No. 9 or 10. More specifically, they need help on the edge because they ranked 24th in 2020 with 29 sacks. Even worse, they were 31st with 28 sacks.
Looking at this year’s class of edge rushers, the first one likely to go off the board is Kwity Paye of Michigan. Paye is a top 15 prospect and will be there around the middle of the 1st round. Also, the same sentiment applies to Azeez Ojulari of Georgia. Another defensive position of need is cornerback.
Hands down, the best cornerback in my eyes is Patrick Surtain II of Alabama. Any franchise with a need for a lockdown cornerback has to consider him in the first round, as the Falcons. In this case, you do not want to trade down out of the top 10 if you want him. If so, Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley and South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn will be hovering around the mid-to-late 1st round.
Matt Ryan is a top-10 QB in this league without a doubt. This is about two things regarding Matty Ice: his cap number. This year, Ryan’s cap number is $26.9 million but jumps exponentially to $48.7 in 2022. It is a legitimate concern for the front office in Atlanta. Ryan will be 36 years old on May 11th and will take up 14.6% of the cap this year and 24.8% in 2022 at age 37.
There could be a potential out next season but I think Ryan has some great years of football ahead of him. By trading down, you can get another pick this year, a 2nd or 3rd rounder, and draft a QB of the future. There is no rush to replace a guy who has the most passing yards since 2016 and 5th in career passing yards per game.
In the 1st round, there will probably be five signal-callers taken: Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Trey Lance, and Mac Jones. These are guys that will be starters on their prospective franchise within a year. Yet, with an additional 2nd or 3rd rounder, you can get guys like Kyle Trask, Kellen Mond, or Davis Mills.
There is no rush to start them and they learn the position from Ryan and be ready within the next two to three years.
Trading back guarantees that the Falcons will have two 1st rounders over the next two years. They are not necessarily rebuilding; they are building around the talent for the present and future.