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Wyche: Falcons will draft for need, and here's what they need

There is little doubt among NFL personnel people and coaches what position will be drafted with the top four picks: Quarterback.

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So, is it a matter of which quarterback the Falcons select at No. 4, or what team they trade with and forsake selecting Matt Ryan's successor so they can address more pressing issues?

Nobody knows except Atlanta's shot callers, but frankly, the draft doesn't really start until Atlanta makes its decision.

Equally as important, the Falcons decision could hinge on the Niners, who traded up from Pick 12 to No. 3 to draft Mac Jones, Trey Lance or Justin Fields. Jones has been the publicly stated favorite for weeks.

Should the Niners take the player the Falcons covet, Atlanta could (it takes two teams to tango) trade back, or select Oregon tackle Penei Sewell or Florida tight end Kyle Pitts. That fits the best player available cliché for sure. Should San Francisco draft someone other than the Falcons' specific target, then the pick will be easy to make.

As a quick sidenote, miss me with the "Best Player Available," business. When you are picking as high as the Falcons are picking, it's because things need fixing and the team needs change. So you draft for, you guessed it….need.

That's not me talking here either. That's what personnel people have told me for years. The best player available pick is either a luxury or happens when the players you need are off the board.

So, to that point: Do the Falcons need a quarterback? Not right now.

But when you have a draft as top heavy on QB talent as this one is, and know that you could be moving on from Matt Ryan after this season or the next, a team needs that rookie QB contract to give it years of fiscal security at that position while it fills in other holes later in this draft, in future drafts and free agency.

Sure, you can say that about the rookie contract of any position player. Yet, should the Falcons bypass a QB in the draft, will they have the opportunity to draft one as talented as these prospects next season?

This is why I believe the Falcons will select Fields. To be clear, I have NO inside knowledge on this and I am just connecting some dots. With Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot playing things closely to the vest, it's hard to tell. However, some people who I have spoken with feel Atlanta is going quarterback, some projecting Fields while and some think maybe it's Lance.

The reason why Atlanta could go with quarterback comes back to why so many teams who draft high do: because if they pass on one and that player goes on to be great (see Patrick Mahomes) then they move one step closer to being a former general manager and ex-head coach.

True, taking a quarterback doesn't address an immediate need. So, Fontenot and Smith have to hit on other draft picks to build. However, in a conversation I had with Fontenot on 'The Huddle and Flow' podcast with my NFL Network partner Jim Trotter, he said you have to build for the future while trying to compete now.

The reason why I don't think Atlanta trades back is because they would have to trade back where a lot of players that could help right away might not be available.

I have spoken to folks who don't believe Denver at No. 9 would move up to take a QB. They need a veteran QB to compete with Drew Lock, not add another young QB.

Maybe New England trades up from No. 15, but are there players at 15 that might make a difference for Atlanta? Maybe. Plus, the Falcons would get a lot more picks to add talent. Still, would that player end up being as much a potential franchise changer as a quarterback?

As we have seen, team owner Arthur Blank gives his football leaders time to make things right. Fontenot and Smith have time. Plus, they wouldn't draft a QB without Blank's final blessing. If he signs off, then the pick will be on him too.

Blank also would not have hired Smith if he didn't think that Smith's coaching acumen is creative enough to guide Atlanta to more wins than last season's mess, regardless of talent. Plus, when you think about how the Falcons lost last season, it wasn't squarely on a lack of good personnel.

Plenty of mental miscues can be cited for some of those losses and if that area can be corrected, so can the outcome of some of the Falcons' games.

The Falcons' talent cupboard isn't bare. It needs help, no doubt. That help might not come immediately with the No. 4 pick, but that selection could develop into a perennial Pro Bowl quarterback that won't leave the Falcons picking fourth again, any time soon.

Steve Wyche is a senior correspondent with the NFL Network and NFL Media.

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