- Previously covered University of Michigan for ESPN.com and AnnArbor.com
- Also covered Notre Dame for Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
The Atlanta Falcons are “open to moving” out of the No. 4 pick in this month’s NFL draft, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter, as the first three picks in the draft appear to be locked in.
Quarterbacks are expected to be taken with the first three selections.
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is widely expected to be taken No. 1 overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars, while the New York Jets signaled they will draft a quarterback at No. 2 when they traded Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers on Monday. The San Francisco 49ers, meanwhile, traded up from No. 12 to No. 3 and have stated they did so with the intention of drafting a quarterback.
Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot said in February he believed the No. 4 spot is “a prime spot to be in.”
“There are so many different scenarios,” Fontenot said at a news conference in February. “There are going to be some really good players there at No. 4. We can move up, and we can move down and acquire more picks.
“There’s just a lot of different scenarios to really go through.”
Back in February, Fontenot said they always have conversations with teams, but that no matter what he does, there will be “good value.”
One of those scenarios could be a quarterback, with whomever is left on the board after the first three selections. The Falcons also could look at an offensive playmaker in Florida’s Kyle Pitts or the best lineman in the draft in Oregon’s Penei Sewell. Less likely would be overflowing their receiver room with LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase or either of Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle or DeVonta Smith.
As many as five quarterbacks are expected to be selected in the first round this year: Lawrence, BYU’s Zach Wilson, Alabama’s Mac Jones, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance and Ohio State’s Justin Fields.
The Falcons don’t have an immediate need at quarterback with Matt Ryan at the helm, although he will be 36 when the 2021 season begins. One decision Atlanta already made is restructuring Ryan’s contract, converting $21 million of his base salary from this year to a signing bonus spread out over three seasons, jumping his salary cap number to $48,662,500 for 2022.
Of course, this time of year almost every team listens to calls about possible trades — some serious, some not — as they try to establish the best possible outcome for their franchise.
“It’s not somewhere that we want to be in very often with this team,” Fontenot said. “But we are going to take advantage of that and be open to all possibilities.”
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