Atlanta Falcons 2024 NFL Draft Needs: GM Terry Fontenot Says Franchise Keying on QB

The Atlanta Falcons need a QB, and general manager Terry Fontenot isn't shy about saying it. Could Jayden Daniels or J.J. McCarthy be the guy?

After the 2023 season, there’s no need for the Atlanta Falcons to be coy: They need a quarterback. What is Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot saying about the team’s QB situation, and how should they be expected to navigate the situation in the 2024 NFL Draft?

Falcons “Keying on QB,” According to General Manager

Through a bountiful 2023 offseason that landed the Falcons players like Bijan Robinson, Jessie Bates III, Calais Campbell, David Onyemata, and Kaden Elliss, Fontenot was able to build a roster in Atlanta that, at certain points in 2023, contended for the NFC South.

But as the modern NFL continues to prove each year, you only go as far as your quarterback.

For an otherwise-talented Falcons team hampered by a combination of Desmond Ridder and Taylor Heinicke — a combination which totaled 17 touchdowns and 16 interceptions — the end result was a 7-10 record, a playoff elimination, and another top-ten pick.

The silver lining for Atlanta is that a talented core still remains. And new head coach Raheem Morris comes with rave reviews and an experienced, versatile coaching staff.

Nevertheless, during an appearance on NFL Network’s “The NFL Report” last week, Fontenot acknowledged that QB is the final piece.

“That’s a top priority for us this offseason, and it’s exciting,” Fontenot said in regards to finding a QB, per NFL.com.

“We have a lot of really smart people in the building. We’re going to spend a lot of time together — make sure we attack that the right way. We’re not going to close any doors, be it trades, free agency, the draft. We will make sure we keep an open mind there, and we’re going to attack it and make sure we get it right.”

The Falcons will have multiple avenues to explore. Vikings QB Kirk Cousins is expected to be a free agent, and Bears QB Justin Fields — whom Fontenot evaluated and had a chance to pick in 2021 — could once again be available via trade.

Fontenot acknowledged just as much — that the team’s QB search will cover all the possible bases. But if the Falcons enter April without a solution, then they’ll have to turn to the 2024 NFL Draft.

Quarterback Targets for Atlanta Falcons in 2024 NFL Draft

Picking at eighth overall, the Falcons likely won’t have a chance to select Caleb Williams or Drake Maye unless they trade up to the second spot. Such a move hinges on the Washington Commanders having a willingness to move down, which isn’t likely, given their similarly pressing need at QB.

Whether the Falcons pick at No. 8 or trade up to ensure they get a signal-caller, there are two 2024 NFL Draft QB prospects that should be in play for Atlanta in the top 10: LSU’s Jayden Daniels and Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy.

Daniels, who won the Heisman Trophy in 2023 with 50 total touchdowns, would give the Falcons a dynamic rushing threat and deep passer on Day 1. There are concerns about his frame and his middle-of-field anticipation, but he has the requisite floor as a processor and rhythm passer.

McCarthy helped lead Michigan to a national title in 2023, but there are questions about his ability to truly elevate an offense consistently.

Still, McCarthy has the high-end arm talent and athleticism, and at just 21 years old, the flashes of processing, pocket management, and DB manipulation are there.

If Daniels and McCarthy are off the board, the Falcons would have to turn to Oregon’s Bo Nix in Round 1. Nix is older and has an uncertain ceiling projection, but he’s a stellar dual-sided creator and distributor with sharp pre-snap processing and infallible accuracy.

MORE: Free NFL Mock Draft Simulator With Trades

If the Falcons somehow exit Round 1 without a QB, they could entertain a selection of South Carolina’s Spencer Rattler or Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. on Day 2. But waiting so long on a QB would be playing with fire for a new regime that’s under heavy pressure to get that position settled.

All the 2024 NFL Draft resources you need — the draft order, the top QBs, the Top 100 prospects, and the full 2024 Big Board — right at your fingertips at Pro Football Network!

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