Quarterback isn’t a desperate need for the Atlanta Falcons with Matt Ryan continuing to play at a high level. Ryan turns 36 before the 2021 season starts and the Falcons have to start thinking about his long term replacement for life after Ryan.
The 2021 quarterback class is a strong one, with three quarterbacks possibly going with the first three overall draft picks. The Falcons are sitting at No. 4, and they could miss on either Ohio State’s Justin Fields or BYU’s Zach Wilson, with Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence the assumed No. 1 overall pick.
The Falcons could be tempted to move down in the draft at that point. If they decide to move down in the first round, Alabama’s Mac Jones could be an excellent option.
Jones is currently ranked 20th overall on NFLMockDraftDatabase and likely won’t climb into the Top 10, but he’s an elite quarterback. He doesn’t have elite arm strength, but he’s an elite quarterback. Getting a quarterback outside of the Top 10 will ease the pressure on him to play early if the Falcons struggle next season.
Quarterback is one of the hardest positions to scout, because the position relies on so many things that can’t be measured at a combine: poise, leadership, decision making. Scouts roll all of these traits into a single attribute and call them intangibles.
Jones intangibles are off the charts. Pocket awareness isn’t going to be measured, but you can tell when a quarterback has it. Jones’ ability to keep a play alive and deliver an accurate ball from multiple angles in the face of a rush is uncanny.
Jones played with an elite group of receivers at Alabama, but throwing for 4,500 yards and 41 touchdowns against only four interceptions are also proof of Jones’ decision making and ability to deliver.
If the Falcons want to get a franchise quarterback in this Draft, there’s a fairly significant drop off after Jones, and the Class of 2022 looks weaker going into the 2021 season. Mac Jones may represent the opportunity for the Falcons to strike a deal to pick up extra high picks and get their long term Matt Ryan replacement.