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Falcons GM Terry Fontenot on what he looks for in quarterback prospects


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If the Falcons had position group meetings today, the quarterbacks meeting room would be a gathering of two people.

 

Quarterbacks coach Charles London and the lone player, Matt Ryan.

 

With free agency and the draft approaching, the new regime cleared out the room and set the stage for an overhaul with an eye toward to the future.

 

With the release of Kurt Benkert and the retirement of Matt Schaub, Ryan is the only quarterback on the roster.

The Falcons will sign at least two and maybe three either through free agency or the coming NFL draft, which is set for April 29-May 1. They also could add an undrafted quarterback, as most teams go to training camp with four quarterbacks.

 

 

Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot and coach Arthur Smith are looking forward to rebuilding the position with the Falcons and possibly landing the team’s quarterback of the future. Ryan, who turns 36 in May, has said he wants to play into his 40s. The most prolific passer in franchise history is under contract for through 2023.

“That’s an exciting part of it because we are going to utilize all of the avenues, whether it’s in free agency, at any point in the draft and even after the draft,” Fontenot said. “I’ve been places where we’ve traded for quarterbacks.”

Fontenot has studied how former Green Bay Packers general manager Ron Wolf, who was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015, amassed quarterbacks in the 1990s and used them as trade fodder.

 
 

In 1994, Brett Favre, Mark Brunell, Ty Detmer and Kurt Warner were the quarterbacks in the Packers’ training camp. Warner was cut and went to play in the Arena Football League. He resurfaced with the Rams and went on to have a Hall of Fame career.

With Favre already on the roster from the trade with the Falcons, Wolf drafted quarterbacks in 1992, 1993 and 1995 through 1999.

Detmer, despite winning the Heisman Trophy, was selected in the ninth round of the 1992 draft. At 6-foot, he was thought to be too short to succeed in the NFL.

Wolf took Washington’s Mark Brunell in the fifth round of the 1993 draft. He also selected Alabama’s Jay Barker (sixth round, 1995), USC’s Kyle Wachholtz (seventh round, 1996), Army’s Rod McAda (seventh round, 1997), Boston College’s Matt Hasselbeck (sixth round, Boston College) and Virginia’s Aaron Brooks (fourth round, 1999).

Brunell, Hasselbeck and Brooks went on to become starters with other teams.

Brunell went to three Pro Bowls and was 78-73 as a starter. He played until he was 41.

Hasselbeck took Seattle to its first Super Bowl appearance after the 2005 season and went to three Pro Bowls. He had an 85-75 record as a starter.

He played with the Titans in 2011 and 2012, when Smith was a defensive quality control assistant (2011) and offensive quality control assistant (2012).

When Wolf hit on the quarterbacks, they later were traded for draft picks.

Brunell was traded to Jacksonville for third-round and fifth-round picks in 1994.

Hasselbeck was traded to Seattle along with a first-round pick (17th) to get a first-round pick (10th) and a third-round pick in 2000.

The Packers traded Brooks and tight end Lamont Hall to the Saints for linebacker K.D. Williams and a third-round pick in the 2001 draft.

Some are projecting that the Falcons will take a quarterback this year with the fourth overall draft pick, most often mentioning BYU’s Zach Wilson and Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, who also played at Harrison High and Georgia.

“We are always looking to bring in quarterbacks,” Fontenot said. “We have a real good (coaching situation) from Arthur Smith to (offensive coordinator) Dave Ragone. We have a really good offensive staff, and I think it’s going to be attractive. I think quarterbacks are going to want to be here.”

Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, of Cartersville, is considered the top quarterback in the draft and is projected to go No. 1 overall to Jacksonville. Also, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance and Alabama’s Mac Jones are projected to go in the first round.

Fontenot said the Falcons are looking for players with good personal and football character at all positions.

Arthur has said it a number of times; you want a smart, tough, competitive, football team,” Fontenot said. “When we are talking about situational awareness and you are talking about critical times at the end of games, the end of halves. So, he wants smart, tough, competitive football players.”

For the quarterback position, the Falcons plan to have some additional parameters.

“Now, obviously the quarterback position is different than some of (the others),” Fontenot said. “So, you really have to spend a lot of time with the quarterbacks and make sure you really assess the mental part of it. So that you can assess them as processors (of football information).”

The Falcons are watching the quarterback carousel around the league this season with interest. The first big move was the trade of Matthew Stafford by the Detroit Lions to the Los Angeles Rams for Jared Goff.

“It’s kind of unique and uncommon this year with all of the discussion about the possible trades at the quarterback position,” Fontenot said. “... All we can do is really assess it, assess the market. It’s unique what’s going on at that position.”

Smith, a first-time NFL head coach, is not sure if he wants a veteran to backup Ryan.

“There are just so many things at play,” Smith said. “If this happens, we can add this guy here. As you go into the draft, you are looking to add everywhere. Obviously, we won’t with just one quarterback into training camp. We’ll have multiple spots there. ... We’ll look for help anywhere, and we’ll look to add. A lot that plays into the salary cap. Who’s available? Who you can sign? Who you can draft?”

Smith went back to the 2011 season when he was first starting out with the Titans. It was the lockout year and the season was in jeopardy.

“It was a top-heavy quarterback draft at the time,” Smith said. “You had Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker, Christian Ponder. I think all went within the top 15, give or take if I remember correctly. ... There are a lot of parallels.”

The 2018 draft was the last time five quarterbacks went in the first round. Baker Mayfield went No. 1 overall to Cleveland followed by Sam Darnold (Jets, third), Josh Allen (Bills, seventh), Josh Rosen (Cardinals, 10th) and Lamar Jackson (Ravens, 32nd).

“You have to do your due diligence,” Smith said. “You can look back from year to year. It’s the hardest position I think in professional sports to play at a high level for a long time. That’s why you are seeing (the quarterback movement) right now.”

From 2008 to 2017, there were only five franchise quarterbacks selected, if you count Ryan, Stafford, Newton, Andrew Luck and Joe Flacco. The jury is still out on the 2018 class, but Rosen has already flamed out, and the Jets are pondering what to do with Darnold.

Kyler Murray (Cardinals, first), Daniel Jones (Giants, sixth) and Dwayne Haskins (Washington, 15th) were selected in the first-round of the 2019 draft. Haskins was released last season by Washington. He signed with the Steelers.

Last year, Cincinnati took Joe Burrow No. 1 overall. Miami selected Tua Tagovailoa fifth, the Los Angeles Chargers selected Justin Herbert sixth and Green Bay picked Jordan Love 26th overall.

Burrow was injured, and Herbert won the PFWA’s rookie offensive player-of-the-year award.

“Just look at the last 10 years of the first-round quarterbacks,” Smith said. “It’s not easy. There are a lot of things that factor into it.”

By D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

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30 minutes ago, ADAMSVILLE GYM said:

If the Falcons had position group meetings today, the quarterbacks meeting room would be a gathering of two people.

 

Quarterbacks coach Charles London and the lone player, Matt Ryan.

 

With free agency and the draft approaching, the new regime cleared out the room and set the stage for an overhaul with an eye toward to the future.

 

With the release of Kurt Benkert and the retirement of Matt Schaub, Ryan is the only quarterback on the roster.

The Falcons will sign at least two and maybe three either through free agency or the coming NFL draft, which is set for April 29-May 1. They also could add an undrafted quarterback, as most teams go to training camp with four quarterbacks.

 

 

Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot and coach Arthur Smith are looking forward to rebuilding the position with the Falcons and possibly landing the team’s quarterback of the future. Ryan, who turns 36 in May, has said he wants to play into his 40s. The most prolific passer in franchise history is under contract for through 2023.

“That’s an exciting part of it because we are going to utilize all of the avenues, whether it’s in free agency, at any point in the draft and even after the draft,” Fontenot said. “I’ve been places where we’ve traded for quarterbacks.”

Fontenot has studied how former Green Bay Packers general manager Ron Wolf, who was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015, amassed quarterbacks in the 1990s and used them as trade fodder.

 
 

In 1994, Brett Favre, Mark Brunell, Ty Detmer and Kurt Warner were the quarterbacks in the Packers’ training camp. Warner was cut and went to play in the Arena Football League. He resurfaced with the Rams and went on to have a Hall of Fame career.

With Favre already on the roster from the trade with the Falcons, Wolf drafted quarterbacks in 1992, 1993 and 1995 through 1999.

Detmer, despite winning the Heisman Trophy, was selected in the ninth round of the 1992 draft. At 6-foot, he was thought to be too short to succeed in the NFL.

Wolf took Washington’s Mark Brunell in the fifth round of the 1993 draft. He also selected Alabama’s Jay Barker (sixth round, 1995), USC’s Kyle Wachholtz (seventh round, 1996), Army’s Rod McAda (seventh round, 1997), Boston College’s Matt Hasselbeck (sixth round, Boston College) and Virginia’s Aaron Brooks (fourth round, 1999).

Brunell, Hasselbeck and Brooks went on to become starters with other teams.

Brunell went to three Pro Bowls and was 78-73 as a starter. He played until he was 41.

Hasselbeck took Seattle to its first Super Bowl appearance after the 2005 season and went to three Pro Bowls. He had an 85-75 record as a starter.

He played with the Titans in 2011 and 2012, when Smith was a defensive quality control assistant (2011) and offensive quality control assistant (2012).

When Wolf hit on the quarterbacks, they later were traded for draft picks.

Brunell was traded to Jacksonville for third-round and fifth-round picks in 1994.

Hasselbeck was traded to Seattle along with a first-round pick (17th) to get a first-round pick (10th) and a third-round pick in 2000.

The Packers traded Brooks and tight end Lamont Hall to the Saints for linebacker K.D. Williams and a third-round pick in the 2001 draft.

Some are projecting that the Falcons will take a quarterback this year with the fourth overall draft pick, most often mentioning BYU’s Zach Wilson and Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, who also played at Harrison High and Georgia.

“We are always looking to bring in quarterbacks,” Fontenot said. “We have a real good (coaching situation) from Arthur Smith to (offensive coordinator) Dave Ragone. We have a really good offensive staff, and I think it’s going to be attractive. I think quarterbacks are going to want to be here.”

Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, of Cartersville, is considered the top quarterback in the draft and is projected to go No. 1 overall to Jacksonville. Also, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance and Alabama’s Mac Jones are projected to go in the first round.

Fontenot said the Falcons are looking for players with good personal and football character at all positions.

Arthur has said it a number of times; you want a smart, tough, competitive, football team,” Fontenot said. “When we are talking about situational awareness and you are talking about critical times at the end of games, the end of halves. So, he wants smart, tough, competitive football players.”

For the quarterback position, the Falcons plan to have some additional parameters.

“Now, obviously the quarterback position is different than some of (the others),” Fontenot said. “So, you really have to spend a lot of time with the quarterbacks and make sure you really assess the mental part of it. So that you can assess them as processors (of football information).”

The Falcons are watching the quarterback carousel around the league this season with interest. The first big move was the trade of Matthew Stafford by the Detroit Lions to the Los Angeles Rams for Jared Goff.

“It’s kind of unique and uncommon this year with all of the discussion about the possible trades at the quarterback position,” Fontenot said. “... All we can do is really assess it, assess the market. It’s unique what’s going on at that position.”

Smith, a first-time NFL head coach, is not sure if he wants a veteran to backup Ryan.

“There are just so many things at play,” Smith said. “If this happens, we can add this guy here. As you go into the draft, you are looking to add everywhere. Obviously, we won’t with just one quarterback into training camp. We’ll have multiple spots there. ... We’ll look for help anywhere, and we’ll look to add. A lot that plays into the salary cap. Who’s available? Who you can sign? Who you can draft?”

Smith went back to the 2011 season when he was first starting out with the Titans. It was the lockout year and the season was in jeopardy.

“It was a top-heavy quarterback draft at the time,” Smith said. “You had Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker, Christian Ponder. I think all went within the top 15, give or take if I remember correctly. ... There are a lot of parallels.”

The 2018 draft was the last time five quarterbacks went in the first round. Baker Mayfield went No. 1 overall to Cleveland followed by Sam Darnold (Jets, third), Josh Allen (Bills, seventh), Josh Rosen (Cardinals, 10th) and Lamar Jackson (Ravens, 32nd).

“You have to do your due diligence,” Smith said. “You can look back from year to year. It’s the hardest position I think in professional sports to play at a high level for a long time. That’s why you are seeing (the quarterback movement) right now.”

From 2008 to 2017, there were only five franchise quarterbacks selected, if you count Ryan, Stafford, Newton, Andrew Luck and Joe Flacco. The jury is still out on the 2018 class, but Rosen has already flamed out, and the Jets are pondering what to do with Darnold.

Kyler Murray (Cardinals, first), Daniel Jones (Giants, sixth) and Dwayne Haskins (Washington, 15th) were selected in the first-round of the 2019 draft. Haskins was released last season by Washington. He signed with the Steelers.

Last year, Cincinnati took Joe Burrow No. 1 overall. Miami selected Tua Tagovailoa fifth, the Los Angeles Chargers selected Justin Herbert sixth and Green Bay picked Jordan Love 26th overall.

Burrow was injured, and Herbert won the PFWA’s rookie offensive player-of-the-year award.

“Just look at the last 10 years of the first-round quarterbacks,” Smith said. “It’s not easy. There are a lot of things that factor into it.”

By D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

**** good read.

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This is probably not popular around here, but I would like to see us trade back a few slots for some extra picks and take Mac Jones. I think Carolina will scoop him up at 9 so we can't go back too far. I think he's as ready to play as any QB in the draft and he has been well coached in college. He's not the runner some of you want, but he's accurate with a quick release and from everything I have read he's a leader. 

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“Just look at the last 10 years of the first-round quarterbacks,” Smith said. “It’s not easy. There are a lot of things that factor into it.”

Exactly. Reading quotes like this and reading between the lines makes me think we're NOT going QB with the first pick. Smith knows Ryan is better than Tannehill and more proven. My guess is Smith and Fontenot will look to add an impactful RB early in the draft and use scheme more effectively to make every player look better on offense, including Ryan. I really think we're not going QB with the first pick. I think a trade down is favored and we could be in the prime spot to do that. 

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52 minutes ago, ADAMSVILLE GYM said:

The 2018 draft was the last time five quarterbacks went in the first round. Baker Mayfield went No. 1 overall to Cleveland followed by Sam Darnold (Jets, third), Josh Allen (Bills, seventh), Josh Rosen (Cardinals, 10th) and Lamar Jackson (Ravens, 32nd).

“You have to do your due diligence,” Smith said. “You can look back from year to year. It’s the hardest position I think in professional sports to play at a high level for a long time. That’s why you are seeing (the quarterback movement) right now.”

From 2008 to 2017, there were only five franchise quarterbacks selected, if you count Ryan, Stafford, Newton, Andrew Luck and Joe Flacco. The jury is still out on the 2018 class, but Rosen has already flamed out, and the Jets are pondering what to do with Darnold.

Kyler Murray (Cardinals, first), Daniel Jones (Giants, sixth) and Dwayne Haskins (Washington, 15th) were selected in the first-round of the 2019 draft. Haskins was released last season by Washington. He signed with the Steelers.

Last year, Cincinnati took Joe Burrow No. 1 overall. Miami selected Tua Tagovailoa fifth, the Los Angeles Chargers selected Justin Herbert sixth and Green Bay picked Jordan Love 26th overall.

Burrow was injured, and Herbert won the PFWA’s rookie offensive player-of-the-year award.

“Just look at the last 10 years of the first-round quarterbacks,” Smith said. “It’s not easy. There are a lot of things that factor into it.”

#QBAT4

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4 minutes ago, The Don™ said:

Exactly. Reading quotes like this and reading between the lines makes me think we're NOT going QB with the first pick. Smith know Ryan is better than Tannehill and more proven. My guess is Smith and Fontenot will look to add an impactful RB early in the draft and use scheme more effectively to make every player look better on offense, including Ryan. I really think we're not going QB with the first pick. I think a trade down is favored and we could be in the prime spot to do that. 

This is where I'm at as well... and I will add that I think it's entirely possible they don't draft a QB until the 3rd round at the earliest.

With Smith pointing out how this year seems similar to when a bunch of QBs that flamed out were taken in the top 15, it doesn't seem like they have much confidence that any of these QB prospects is actually worth such a prime pick.

Couple that with Fontenot studying Ron Wolf's practice of drafting several QBs, but almost always in the later rounds.

That makes me think they're fine with Ryan as the starter for the next year or two, and they don't necessarily have to get his successor right away... or be desperate & reach to try to find one. They can take a solid prospect in the middle to back of the draft & have the option of signing a vet as well. If that mid-round prospect develops into an eventual starter, cool! If not, they can invest an early round pick next year or the year after, once they have a more pressing need & a better read on the prospects.

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23 minutes ago, k-train said:

This is where I'm at as well... and I will add that I think it's entirely possible they don't draft a QB until the 3rd round at the earliest.

With Smith pointing out how this year seems similar to when a bunch of QBs that flamed out were taken in the top 15, it doesn't seem like they have much confidence that any of these QB prospects is actually worth such a prime pick.

Couple that with Fontenot studying Ron Wolf's practice of drafting several QBs, but almost always in the later rounds.

That makes me think they're fine with Ryan as the starter for the next year or two, and they don't necessarily have to get his successor right away... or be desperate & reach to try to find one. They can take a solid prospect in the middle to back of the draft & have the option of signing a vet as well. If that mid-round prospect develops into an eventual starter, cool! If not, they can invest an early round pick next year or the year after, once they have a more pressing need & a better read on the prospects.

Draft day will be epic. Lol. 

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45 minutes ago, vafalconfan said:

This is probably not popular around here, but I would like to see us trade back a few slots for some extra picks and take Mac Jones. I think Carolina will scoop him up at 9 so we can't go back too far. I think he's as ready to play as any QB in the draft and he has been well coached in college. He's not the runner some of you want, but he's accurate with a quick release and from everything I have read he's a leader. 

i think that's more popular than you think

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2 hours ago, vafalconfan said:

This is probably not popular around here, but I would like to see us trade back a few slots for some extra picks and take Mac Jones. I think Carolina will scoop him up at 9 so we can't go back too far. I think he's as ready to play as any QB in the draft and he has been well coached in college. He's not the runner some of you want, but he's accurate with a quick release and from everything I have read he's a leader. 

The Falcons have had very good luck drafting people with the last name Jones!

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Thanks for posting. Was surprised to see DLed's byline at the end because there was no stretch to add an unconventional opinion in it. I think we're going to bring in a FA to backup Ryan and we're going to grab a falling QB in rounds 3 or 4. At this point, I'll be shocked if we took a QB at #4. To be honest, I'll be surprised if we use the #4 pick.

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5 minutes ago, JayOzOne said:

Thanks for posting. Was surprised to see DLed's byline at the end because there was no stretch to add an unconventional opinion in it. I think we're going to bring in a FA to backup Ryan and we're going to grab a falling QB in rounds 3 or 4. At this point, I'll be shocked if we took a QB at #4. To be honest, I'll be surprised if we use the #4 pick.

I'm thinking the same.

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19 minutes ago, HASHBROWN3 said:

He spoke about stockpiling QB's & using them as trade fodder... nice.  

Heck, we got two 2nds for Schaub didn't we?  Then got him back again... lol.

Schaub was like a 5th rounder or something from UVA I think.

3rd round, but a great pick. I remember rattling to my wife (gf at the time) that I wanted to trade Vick to the Raiders for Moss and their 1st round pick (which was the rumor then) and keep Schaub

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20 minutes ago, HASHBROWN3 said:

He spoke about stockpiling QB's & using them as trade fodder... nice.  

Heck, we got two 2nds for Schaub didn't we?  Then got him back again... lol.

Schaub was like a 5th rounder or something from UVA I think.

3rd rounder. Kinda reminds me of Trask too and could probably get him around the same spot

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27 minutes ago, HASHBROWN3 said:

He spoke about stockpiling QB's & using them as trade fodder... nice.  

Heck, we got two 2nds for Schaub didn't we?  Then got him back again... lol.

Schaub was like a 5th rounder or something from UVA I think.

We also swapped firsts with him I think.

I've been hollering about this for a while now.  The better teams stockpile talent and trade what they can't use.  QBs are premium in this regard.  We should have been drafting QBs in the middle rounds for the past decade.  Instead, we keep getting UDFAs and 7th rounders and paying vets exorbitant salaries to hold clipboards.  You need a backup.  The best way to get one is develop him, then trade him to a QB hungry team.

If you happen to hit the jackpot on one, you can keep him.  But the odds are you're just playing other teams for their draft picks.

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