Just about everyone in and around the NFL believes that quarterbacks will be selected with each of the first three picks of the 2021 NFL Draft.
It's all but written in stone that the Jacksonville Jaguars will select former Clemson star Trevor Lawrence at No. 1 overall. It's difficult to find anybody who is predicting that the New York Jets will take anyone other than BYU quarterback Zach Wilson with the No. 2 pick. And depending on which report you happen to be reading at any given moment, the San Francisco 49ers are locked in on either Alabama's Mac Jones or Ohio State's Justin Fields.
Which means, for all intents and purposes, the draft begins at the No. 4 overall pick, which belongs to the Atlanta Falcons. Not many people seem to have a handle on what new general manager Terry Fontenot is going to do with the pick. The Falcons can go in a number of different directions based on how Fontenot and new coach Arthur Smith feel about the quality of the roster.
One option that has gone somewhat overlooked is the Falcons also taking a quarterback at that spot. Because the Falcons restructured Matt Ryan's contract earlier this offseason and it would be damaging to release or trade him anytime in the next two years, it has seemed like the Falcons would prefer to either trade down (with another team coming up to take their preferred quarterback) or stand pat take a non-QB (such as Oregon tackle Penei Sewell or Florida tight end Kyle Pitts) at No. 4. But Ryan is set to turn 36 years old next month, and the Falcons may not get another chance to find a successor this high up in the draft.
Which is what makes it intriguing that they've been sending multi-scout and coach contingents to pro days in recent weeks, which they will again do on Monday, when North Dakota State's Trey Lance holds his second pro day, per a report from NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.
Lance started just 13 games in college and his team played only one game in 2020, so he is generally considered more likely than the other top prospects to need a year or two of seasoning before stepping into the starting lineup. That makes Atlanta an intriguing landing spot, given Ryan's age and contract situation, along with Lance's skill set and potential fit in Smith's offense. Of course, it's just as likely that Atlanta could be sending scouts to pro days in an effort to entice some other team to up its offer to move to the No. 4 slot for their quarterback of choice.
That's the thing about draft season: we never really know what any given development means -- or if it means anything at all.