Things are starting to get interesting around the league, as teams start to make personnel decisions (roster moves) and, naturally, the rumors are starting to heat up as well. We're a month away from the start of the new league year (free agency) and the NFL combine kicks off in a couple of weeks, too. Meanwhile, you've got plenty of questions about the Falcons – so let's get to them now. Just remember that all opinions here are mine unless otherwise noted.
And we're off.
Anthony from Lilburn, GA
What are you looking forward to seeing at the NFL combine and what is your favorite drill to watch?
Matt: I think the most important aspect of the NFL combine is the portion that fans don't even get to see – and that's the one-on-one interviews with prospects. You can learn a lot about some of these prospects during these sessions. As a football fan, I always enjoy watching the 40-times for skill players. How many times have seen running backs, defensive backs, receivers and linebackers really bolster their stock during those sessions? As for this year, I'm really going to be playing close attention to the running backs and cornerbacks, Anthony. Now, their body of work as players is what counts most, but if someone stands out with elite speed or blows up in one of the other drills, I'm always intrigued to see how those stories pan out come draft day. Does it always guarantee success on the next level? Yes and no. We saw Chris Johnson clock a 4.24 40 once and go on to a pretty good career. We also saw John Ross break Johnson's mark and he, so far, hasn't enjoyed a ton of success in the league. And of course, we all know the legend of Deion Sanders at the combine.
Steven from Doncaster, England
I have asked numerous questions on this site and I do not believe I have ever had an answer from this Beek person, but here goes once again. Referring to the change in "uniforms." Mr. Blank stated at the outset of his tenure that he wanted to establish a Falcons tradition and identity. Well my answer is you do not pander to people who want superficial change, i.e., "uniforms." Take a look at the "old school" teams WITH tradition, i.e., BEARS, VIKINGS, GIANTS, PACKERS, etc. How many times have they radically altered their home "uniforms"? Come on, answer me. The people requesting and apparently being acceded this change are fashionistas and completely missing the point. Ten years down the line will when this subject appears once more will the ownership bend over backwards to appease the minority or will they say NO!
Matt: Hi, Steven. I can't get to everyone's questions all of the time, but today you're in luck. Of the four teams you mentioned above, only the Bears and Packers have really stayed true to their original uniforms. Both the Giants and Vikings have gone through changes over the years. Look, I'm with you when it comes to tradition and I've gone on record a number of times in this space stating that my favorite all-time Falcons uniforms the red-red-silver combination (see 1989 for the last time they wore them). Regardless, many teams have made changes to their duds over the years or added alternative looks. It's not a bad thing. In fact, several teams have gone to experience success after making changes. And, really, all that matters in the end is winning, right? So, let's wait until the new uniforms are unveiled in April before you pass judgment. Fair? Thanks for writing in, Steven.
David from Baltimore, MD
Do you think we will draft a QB with one of our picks? Love the ice man BUT it looks like he has kind of lost a step, if you acquire my drift.
Matt: I know this is going to shock a lot pf you (sarcasm), but I get a lot of questions about quarterback – either about Matt Ryan, the backup or drafting another one – and it makes no sense. And here's why: Matt Ryan is not the problem with this team, folks. If the Falcons can address some other more-pressing needs on this team – offensive line, edge rusher, cornerback, running back and linebacker – those of you who constantly point to the quarterback will probably appreciate No. 2 a whole lot more. Ryan, who was sacked 48 times in 2019, still managed to complete 408 of 616 passes for 4,466 yards and throw 26 touchdowns. That's a year after almost passing for 5,000 yards (4,924) and tossing 35 touchdowns – and being sacked 42 times. And I don't want to hear about mobile quarterbacks, either. If you look at the six most-sacked quarterbacks in the NFL in 2019, the Falcons would top the list, but look at the other names on the list:
So, to answer your question, no, I don't think the Falcons will draft a quarterback come April. They have seven picks at the moment, and I think all of them will be used to address those aforementioned needs. And you might have to throw tight end in there, depending on what happens in free agency with Austin Hooper.
Jack from Manhattan, KS
Hey Beek, I've seen a lot of people wanting to trade up for Chase Young, Derrick Brown, or A.J. Epenesa. One guy I like that people aren't talking about is Javon Kinlaw, the D-lineman out of South Carolina. Georgia had legit NFL talent all around their O-line, and Kinlaw made them look like high schoolers at some points. He's a guy that we could get at the 16th pick without having to trade up, and it's almost a given that the Falcons are going to look to the O-line in the first round.
Matt: I've said it a number of times, but I'd be shocked if the Falcons trade up in this draft. I just don't see them giving up picks. I could see them trading back and acquiring additional picks, however. Regardless, I could see a number of scenarios where Javon Kinlaw is available when the Falcons pick at No. 16 – and I could see them pulling the trigger on the former South Carolina star, too. There have been a number of mock drafts already with the Falcons taking Kinlaw, too. As far as your second comment about the Falcons taking an offensive lineman, I could see that – but on Day 2, not with the 16th pick. Then again, I've been wrong before.
Blake from San Francisco, CA
Hi Beek! I was just wondering about our options if we decide to let Austin Hooper walk. Who would we be looking to pick up?
Matt: Hey, Blake. No one knows the answer to that yet. If that does indeed happen (and Austin Hooper leaves and signs with another team), the Falcons will obviously look to free agency, the draft or at their own roster to replace Austin Hooper's production. We don't know all of the names of the free agent tight ends yet, but it obviously won't be one on the bigger, more expensive names. Let's see what happens with Hooper first.
Go ahead, ask the Beek
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