With free agency and the NFL Draft around the corner, the projections and mock drafts season is full for force. The Atlanta Falcons own the No. 4 pick in this year's draft.
ESPN reporters for each NFL team were asked to give their one bold prediction for the offseason and Michael DiRocco believes general manager Terry Fontenot and coach Arthur Smith's first draft pick together will be a quarterback.
"Matt Ryan is 36," DiRocco said. "Although he's still playing at a high level and has several more productive years ahead of him, it's time to start preparing for the future. New GM Terry Fontenot and coach Arthur Smith have the fourth overall pick; if the Jets pass on a QB at No. 2, they'll snag Justin Fields and let him learn for a year or so under Ryan."
The four top quarterbacks in this year's draft are the following: Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Zach Wilson and Trey Lance. Draft analysts have mocked each one of these quarterbacks except Lawrence to the Falcons at some point. Most believe Lawrence is a lock to head to the Jaguars who have the No. 1 pick in this year's draft.
Falcons owner Arthur Blank has been on record stating the importance of having a transition plan for the future while also acknowledging that Ryan, who is under contract through the 2023 season, continues to play at a high level.
It's also worth noting there's been a lot of turnover in the Falcons' quarterback room behind Ryan. Veteran backup Matt Schaub is set to retire and the team recently waived Kurt Benkert who had been on the team since 2018. The Falcons will have to add a quarterback to their roster behind Ryan at some point this offseason.
"It's not just about performing for today," Blank said. "It's, 'OK, in this business of football, you're going to have athletes that are going to age. Their skills are going to decline a little bit. Are you prepared for the future?' That's what good head coaches and good general managers do. That's what good owners do. They make sure that they're hiring people who understand that it's not just about winning next Sunday but it's about winning on a longer continuum than that. My aspiration, I've said this publicly since 2001, is that we want to have a sustainable, winning team, which means not just winning one year and then dropping down for two years and then winning again, but having a team that's competitive always and playing games in December and January that are important games, and God willing, playing a game in February as well."