The Atlanta Falcons are set to meet with yet another top quarterback draft prospect in North Carolina’s Sam Howell.
Howell is also on tap to visit with the Indianapolis Colts and Carolina Panthers, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero’s report on Monday, April 11.
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Howell Draws Jalen Hurts Comparison
As a three-year starter for the UNC Tar Heels, the 6-foot-1, 218-pound Howell passed for a total of 10,283 yards, 92 touchdowns and 23 interceptions through 37 games. In that span, he set school records for passing yardage and touchdowns, was named ACC Rookie of the Year in 2019 and second-team All-ACC in 2020. Not to mention that he rushed for 828 yards and 11 touchdowns during his junior just last season, which displays the type of mobility that NFL teams are looking for nowadays.
According to Bleacher Report’s official scouting report on the UNC product, Howell’s NFL comparison is Jalen Hurts of the Philadelphia Eagles and he is projected to go off of the draft board in the fifth round.
B/R also highlights that while Howell might not possess the same strength or speed as the other top QB prospects, he still has the necessary tools to make it as an NFL quarterback:
“Overall, Howell has the arm strength, athleticism and enough accuracy to make it in the NFL. But he will need a good deal of development and polish on his footwork, pocket awareness and movement, understanding of dropback concepts and overall mechanics to become a viable NFL starting quarterback.
“For any team that has the patience for a project, Howell has tools to work with, and his ability to create plays with his legs will help raise his bar as a player. But he’ll need to become a more consistent player operating from the pocket to be anything more than a high-end backup or a spot starter.”
Will the Falcons Draft a Quarterback This Year?
After trading away Matt Ryan, the Falcons have a need for a reliable starting quarterback, however, they could hand the job over to Marcus Mariota, who they signed to a two-year deal.
That being said, with Mariota now in the fold, a quarterback is no longer a pressing need that the Falcons would need to address early on in the draft.
The team has several other needs that include, wide receiver, edge, linebacker, defensive line and offensive line. But the Falcons don’t plan on “reaching” for their needs.
Instead, they’ll stick to the same approach heading into the draft as they did last year.
“We always want to be a team that doesn’t reach for needs,” Fontenot said, via AtlantaFalcons.com. “We go into the draft with needs, and you know you want to fill those needs, but you always want to take the best player on the board and not reach for something. I think we think that’s how you make mistakes.”
While QB might not come on their radar as one of their top picks, it could later in the draft, making Howell a strong possibility if he’s still available.
The Falcons are also scheduled to meet with Liberty’s quarterback Malik Willis as ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported last week.
All 32 teams are allowed to privately meet up to 30 NFL draft prospects ahead of April 28.
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