The calendar has turned to April, so we're officially in NFL Draft month. Huh-zah.
Can't wait to see how it all shakes out for the Falcons at No. 8 overall and beyond. As Steve Wyche pointed out in his Monday column, the draft will be the most important acquisition point in this offseason.
They need to stick the landing and find top talents and scheme fits throughout the draft to expand the team's young foundation as needed.
We discuss that, the team's quarterback situation and play a game of either/or right off the top of Monday's Bair Mail.
And, John Simms, I addressed Julio in Friday's installment, which you can find right here.
Let's get right to your questions in this mailbag:
Jake Stevens from Gainesville, Ga.
If you're drafting for us at 8 and Thibodeaux and Walker are there, who are you going with?
Bair: Jake, that's like asking if I'd rather have steak or lobster. Tough call there. For the record, I don't the Falcons will have that option at No. 8 overall. They might not have either at No. 8, either.
If it were an option. I think I'd go with Travon Walker. It has nothing to do with the Kayvon Thibodeaux motor questions. I think that's malarkey. I just think Walker is an athletic freak and is versatile enough to play several spots. I also think he'll be a better pro that he was a college player. I also think he fits better into the Falcons scheme, as a player with real size and strength.
I think both guys are going to be really good. If I'm the Falcons GM, which, you know, I'm not, I'm taking Walker.
Christopher Duke from Covington, Ga.
It's been a bit of a roller coaster for Dirty Birdz Nation over the past few weeks. Seeing Matty Ice leave hurts a ton, and also leaves me scratching my head about why we were only able to get a 3rd round pick for him. Lest we not forget that Matty Ice was certainly on the decline over the past 2 years. People will blame the offensive line for not keeping him upright, however, J. Burrow took over 70+ sacks last year and we all saw how far the Bengals got.
I think people tend to forget that since this is a hard salary cap league, the more you pay one player, the harder it is to surround that one player with talent. Lastly, let's not also forget that M. Ryan has the highest dead money in NFL history. Anyone else worried about Mariota being our starting QB? Why not give Kaepernick a chance?
Bair: I think the compensation for Matt Ryan did raise an initial eyebrow, but it comes into clearer focus when you hear GM Terry Fontenot discuss the importance of finding Ryan a good landing spot, and the additional details in this Albert Breer column.
Also, contract plays a big role in what you get back. It just does. It also didn't help that the Falcons didn't have tons of leverage, but were still able to get a higher pick and can get rid of Ryan's massive cap hit in one season.
I'm not concern about Mariota. I would say that I'm intrigued by what he might be. He's supremely motivated to prove himself a worthy starting NFL quarterback. He has talent. Tons of it. Can he realize vast potential with the Falcons? I'm curious to see if he can.
Regarding Kaepernick, it's an option worth pondering. The pro: He's an athletic quarterback who could come in and compete for the starting gig, and recently said he’d consider being a backup. The con: He's much older that Mariota (28) at 34 and isn't a long-term option. He wouldn't represent one – Mariota could at this stage in his career – so he wouldn't provide clarity in that regard, which is vital to the long term health of the franchise.
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Jim Campbell from Townsend, Tenn.
Scott, Thanks for your insights on the upcoming draft. I find it interesting that the majority of the buzz as the draft approaches is on the number one pick while players selected in the second and third round, usually the key building blocks for a team that is trying to become competitive, are largely ignored. I believe we have two picks in both the second and third rounds. I honestly feel those four picks will determine the direction of this squad. Can you give me four solid picks in those two rounds you would like to see? Jim
Bair: There is a ton of talent available in those rounds, Jim, that don't get much run. I dig this question, for sure, especially with the Falcons having two picks each in the second and third rounds of this year's draft.
I'll start with the local: Georgia's George Pickens. That guy is a dog, the type of player I want lining up on my side. The tough part is where you have to take him. Do you have to use the No. 43 overall pick? Probably. He might not be around at No. 58.
Since we're talking receivers, I really like Jalen Tolbert from South Alabama. He's a bigger dude who can run and get yards after the catch.
Florida running back Dameon Pierce is someone intriguing, who could be a third rounder if Breece Hall and Isaiah Spiller both end up going in the second round. Gators cornerback Kaiir Elam could be a first-rounder, but I'd keep a close eye on him as we enter the second.
Oklahoma's Nik Bonitto or Penn State's Arnold Ebiketie could be second-round options at edge rusher as well. I could go on and on, but those are a few names to ponder after the first round.
Rusty Grove from Iowa
With the possibility of not drafting a QB, having a better than imagined season next year, and not being in contention for young or stroud, Any chance we trade down? Pick up one of the top 3-4 receivers later on in the 1st and stock pile picks for next year In case we need to trade up for a top qb?
Bair: That would involve trading down for 2023 draft capital? That's an interesting concept, something that could happen for sure. Ending up with 2023 first- or second-round pick could help facilitate a trade up for one of the best quarterbacks if that's the route they go. Stroud and Young sure look like the real deal and landing one of those two could set the Falcons up well.
I'd rather roll with Marcus Mariota in 2022 and address quarterback next year over drafting one high in 2022, and extra capital would help that effort.
Call for questions
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