There are four months until the 2021 NFL Draft kicks off, which means we’ll be reviewing mock drafts until then. The Falcons have sealed the No. 4 draft pick and several analysts are predicting they’ll grab a young quarterback to stick behind veteran Matt Ryan.
This year’s draft class will be stacked with talented signal-callers to choose from, even after Trevor Lawrence is off the boards. Respected draft analyst for ESPN, Mel Kiper, released his first mock draft of the season on ESPN’s Get Up and sees Atlanta selecting BYU’s, Zach Wilson before Justin Fields.
Kiper said he flip-flopped the two about six times while trying to finalize it but it came down to one thing, hiccups.
“Fields had some…hiccups,” Kiper said. “Go to the Indiana game, the Northwestern game in particular there. Now, in the Northwestern game, he didn’t have Chris Olave, but still, Wilson didn’t have that hiccup. You go Coastal Carolina, he was good — wasn’t great, but he was good. So, he didn’t have that subpar game.”
Ex-Falcons Wideout Roddy White Has Beef With Kiper’s Pick
Former Falcons star Roddy White has never been one to stay quiet when he sees a problem and made it clear via Twitter that he’s not a fan of Kiper’s pick for Atlanta.
Kiper has been a part of ESPN’s draft coverage since 1984 and while he has plenty of good insight, he is known to talk up QB’s who have been busts in the NFL. For example, in 2017, Kiper had Mitch Trubisky going over Deshaun Watson and we have seen how well that unfolded in the NFL. White compared Wilson to Trubisky.
In case you’re not familiar with what happened during the regular season, Coastal Carolina and BYU agreed to a last-minute matchup after Liberty canceled their visit to Coastal due to a COVID-19 outbreak. With just a day to prepare, BYU flew into Myrtle Beach to take on the Chanticleers. College Gameday set up shop on Coastal’s campus that weekend, so all eyes were on Zach Wilson and the underdog school.
Wilson finished 19-of-30 passing for 240 yards, one touchdown, and one interception as the Chants upset the Cougars, 22-17. A last-minute preparation was their excuse.
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SportsCenter’s Todd McShay Agrees With Kiper
Kiper isn’t alone when it comes to putting Wilson as the No. 2 QB drafted off the boards. NFL expert Todd McShay agrees with him, though he also struggled to rank the two when he went to write up his first-round mock draft.
McShay ultimately came down to Wilson’s “toughness in the pocket.”
“Atlanta will have a new head coach and a new GM for the 2021 season, and after it struggled to just four wins in 2020, it could be looking for a complete reboot,” McShay wrote. The Falcons will need to address running back, parts of the offensive line and the secondary this offseason, so moving back and acquiring some extra picks might be the smart call. However, quarterback Matt Ryan will be 36 years old when next season kicks off, and his contract allows an out after 2022. The chance to draft an heir this high isn’t a guarantee in future years, so could Atlanta make the move here and now?
The decision between Wilson and Justin Fields would be close. It’s perhaps the toughest player-vs.-player debate in the class right now, at least for me. They both compete so well. I’m going with Wilson’s toughness in the pocket and deep-ball prowess, giving the Falcons a signal-caller of the future.”
There’s still a lot of time to go until April 29th, but until then, we’ll continue to have some fun following the Wilson-Fields debate.