AP Photo/Brynn Anderson
Despite reports of disagreements between the two sides, Atlanta Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot and head coach Arthur Smith are “aligned” ahead of the 2021 NFL draft, according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The Falcons currently hold the No. 4 pick of the draft, which could be used either for a future franchise quarterback or another impact player.
Chris Mortensen of ESPN recently reported (h/t Evan Birchfield of SB Nation) Fontenot wants to take a quarterback, potentially Trey Lance out of North Dakota State, while Smith wants to stick with veteran Matt Ryan under center.
The Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets are expected to take quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson, respectively, with the first two picks. The San Francisco 49ers are also projected to take a quarterback at No. 3 after trading up from No. 12.
It could leave the Falcons in position to take the best player available at another spot, including offensive tackle Penei Sewell and tight end Kyle Pitts.
A long-time NFL executive explained to Ledbetter the value of the two spots.
“He’ll make some plays, the tight end,” the executive said. “He’ll be effective maybe 15 plays out of 65. The left tackle has got to be there 65 out of 65. When you really look it, it’s hard to (take the tight end) if the left tackle is legit. If he’s just a position guy, you can get that later.”
Ledbetter listed other possibilities for Atlanta that include receiver Ja’Marr Chase, quarterback Justin Fields or cornerback Patrick Surtain II.
Mina Kimes of ESPN argued there are a lot of good options for the Falcons:
The Falcons don’t need quarterback help for 2021, giving them flexibility to improve the squad in other ways after a 4-12 campaign. The organization can still build toward the future by drafting an eventual replacement for the 35-year-old Ryan.
The team’s plans won’t be revealed until April 29, but it appears the top decision-makers are in agreement.