The 2021 NFL draft is now ten days away, and the Falcons have been speculated to be interested in Justin Fields, Trey Lance, Kyle Pitts, and multiple trade-down scenarios. Essentially, Atlanta holds the keys to the draft. In Peter King’s Football Morning in America, he did a wonderful job eluding to Arthur Blank’s feelings towards what Terry Fontenot should do, and laid out all the options.
Football Morning In America is up! In my column:
What I hear/know with draft 10 days away
@Gil_Brandt—67-year draft vet—says '21 oddest ever
Edelman legacy, in his own words
NFL's billion-dollar reversal
College NIL, 21 Ks, Factoids, More!https://t.co/3IvWsriYiT pic.twitter.com/R7ll1baG8I
— Peter King (@peter_king) April 19, 2021
4. ATLANTA. Pivot point of the draft. Falcons are doing a great job of disguising their intentions and, per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, will have three reps at the Lance workout today.
What I’m hearing: Owner Arthur Blank is fascinated by the quarterbacks atop the draft, thinking the franchise might not be in such an advantageous position to take one for years. But Blank will not force a decision—of that I am sure. He hired GM Terry Fontenot and coach Arthur Smith and won’t big-foot them on their first big call. Smith likes the quarterbacks too, but also like Matt Ryan, who will play at 36 this fall and likely has four or five solid years left. Fontenot may—and I emphasized may, because I’ve heard varying things here—prefer to trade out of the pick for a ransom, if one is there. But Smith and Fontenot are also value shoppers too. The value here is to take the best non-quarterback in the draft, tight end Kyle Pitts.
Blank’s fascination with the crop of quarterbacks isn’t unexpected, because five quarterbacks could go in the first ten picks; they’re that good. He has owned the Falcons for nearly 20 years and surely has a thought or two on this matter. It can potentially be a franchise-altering decision that Blank has said he will not be making, leaving the decisions to his subordinate — Terry Fontenot. Rightfully so, the co-owner of The Home Depot shouldn’t force the new regime into any decision, especially the first major one of their tenure.
I have a different perspective, which is the story behind drafting Matt Ryan over a decade ago. I don’t think there will be any forcing or pushing the new regime to take a quarterback by Blank. Still, he’s a billionaire for a reason, able to get his way — sometimes without even saying it implicitly. 13 years ago, Thomas Dimitroff had his choice between Matt Ryan and Glenn Dorsey, who was the consensus best defensive player in the draft even if Chris Long went beforehand. Blank clearly made his opinion known that in a post-Michael Vick era, the Falcons — i.e., Blank — needed a new face of the franchise, enter the former Boston College Golden Eagle. I believe there could be a similar situation unfold this year.
King eluded to the Falcons being a trade-down candidate but could be looking for the “value” pick. King would be referring to the best non-quarterback prospect available — Penei Sewell or Kyle Pitts. Everything is on the table for the Falcons, and I believe that even Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot don’t know what will happen in ten days. It will come down to how the first three picks unfold and the trade offers from the organization’s behind Atlanta. Nothing will be solidified until draft night. I am positive that no insider has any information the Falcons’ brass doesn’t want out there — doing an immaculate job not revealing their intentions.