Falcons Plan to Take ‘Best Player’ Available in NFL Draft

Takk McKinley

Getty Takkarist McKinley of UCLA reacts after being picked #26 overall by the Atlanta Falcons in 2017.

The Falcons are in operation full rebuild mode under new head coach Arthur Smith and general manager Terry Fontenot and with the 2021 NFL Draft right around the corner, there’s a lot of pressure weighing on them.

But, Falcons owner Arthur Blank isn’t worried at all and is a fan of Fontenot’s plan when it comes to draft day––picking the best player available.

“He [Fontenot] told me in the interviewing process of his experience with Ozzie Newsome, who we all know as one of the more highly regarded general managers in the history of the league,” Blank said via The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“Ozzie has always taken the position philosophically of drafting the best player regardless of need. I would say we have not always done that. Sometimes we’ve looked at need and moved toward need first. In any event, that’s a lot of his orientation.”

 Mock Drafts Have the Falcons Selecting A QB

While several mock drafts have the Falcons selecting a quarterback at No. 4 overall to take over Matt Ryan‘s duties, Fontenot is leaving the door open for any possibility.

“In the draft, you’re going to take the best player,” Fontenot said via AtlantaFalcons.com. “You can’t be afraid to continue [to add] at every position. There’s not a position that you’re going to say, ‘Oh, we’re good there, we’re not going to draft there this year.’ That’s just what I believe. … We’re never going to be afraid to take a player at any position and build strength.”

In recent years, the Falcons have been known to hone in on needs over the best talent on the board and you can tell it hasn’t made a notable impact on the franchise.

“You never want to reach for needs,” Fontenot said. “I think it’s cool listening to Ozzie Newsome tell stories about where there were certain players on the board, in certain areas, and they took the best player available, and he ends up taking Hall of Fame players as opposed to reaching for a need.”

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The Falcons Will Move On From Matt Ryan…Eventually

Fontenot and Smith have kind of made it clear that Ryan will be the Falcons QB in 2021, but that doesn’t mean the Falcons won’t eventually make a transition at the QB position.

However, after studying transitions across the league for several years, Blank is well aware it takes time. So if the Falcons do select a QB at No. 4, he won’t be rolling into Atlanta with a starting job.

Blank noted that Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes sat for a year before getting his first start.

“Came out of kind of a street-football system,” Blank said. “I say that respectfully. He probably would disagree and his coach then would. He needed to get some more training, more transition. He worked under certainly a great quarterback in Alex Smith for a year.”

He also pointed out that Aaron Rodgers sat behind Brett Farve in Green Bay.

That being said, the Falcons will keep Matt Ryan around and the team will likely draft a QB come April, but maybe not at 4th overall.

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