Even if 2020 was a bit of an up-and-down season for Fields, who at times tried to do too much, he showed tremendous toughness and leadership in Ohio State's semifinal win over Clemson as he threw for 385 yards and six touchdowns. A two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, the dual-threat quarterback accounted for 78 total touchdowns -- 63 passing and 15 rushing -- while throwing only nine interceptions over 22 games as Ohio State's starter.
If the Falcons aren't able to find a trade offer they like to move back, the Atlanta area native would have the opportunity to learn behind Matt Ryan in 2021 before potentially becoming the face of the franchise in 2022 and beyond.
Matt Ryan remains one of the league's better quarterbacks and, ironically, that fact contributes to why Atlanta might very well opt to select his replacement now. The Falcons have not owned a Top 10 pick since Ryan's MVP season in 2016. As unproven against elite competition as Lance is, talents like the North Dakota State QB don't last long on Draft Day. Further, consider the background of Fontenot (New Orleans) and Smith (Tennessee), who helped get their promotions in Atlanta based on the surprising development the past few years of dual-threat quarterbacks Taysom Hill and Ryan Tannehill, respectively.
He has the talent to nearly justify staying at No. 4 and picking him. In this mock, Parsons slides to the middle of the first round and goes to a team needing to fill a defense full of holes. Parsons has uncommon speed for coverage and rushing the passer, two things Atlanta really needs.
The Falcons are most likely deciding between Sewell and Kyle Pitts. But Sewell, given his size and athletic ability, has the potential to go to many Pro Bowls. Because Atlanta is locked into Matt Ryan for the next two years from a financial perspective, it seems as though Atlanta won't draft his replacement this year. Trading down also seems unlikely, but the Falcons will listen to offers.
The Falcons have three options: draft a quarterback, the top non-quarterback (Kyle Pitts) or trade back to the highest bidder. Matt Ryan will be Atlanta's starter in the short-term, but the idea of grooming Lance in head coach Arthur Smith's offense is an exciting long-term succession plan.
I could see Lance landing in this spot one way or another. Either as the Falcons' future QB after they move on from Matt Ryan (at some point) or to another team trading up into this spot. Justin Fields is the local kid and appears to be the favorite QB among the team's fans. The Falcons could regard Lance as having a higher ceiling long term. Just a guess.
Could they take Kyle Pitts here and assemble a battery of freaky pass catchers? Sure. We love the guy. But taking the long-term QB -- or trading down -- would create more bang for Atlanta's buck.
So new general manager Terry Fontenot and coach Arthur Smith move down two spots, add extra assets for a rebuilding team and still get a franchise quarterback. The 20-year-old Lance is green -- he started just 17 games in college, all against FCS competition. The Falcons can let him sit behind Matt Ryan for at least a season. And here's a list Lance will join (courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information): Since the 2006 draft, six quarterbacks with fewer than 20 college starts have been taken in the first round: Mitchell Trubisky (13), Cam Newton (14), Dwayne Haskins Jr. (14), Mark Sanchez (16), Kyler Murray (17) and Ryan Tannehill (19). There is some risk involved in picking a young, unproven quarterback this high.
Yes, they have Deion Jones. But the division rival Bucs have Devin White and Lavonte David, and how's that working out? Owusu-Koramoah is a wild-card prospect -- he's going to be playing at 220-230 pounds -- but he fits the bill for the 2021 LB prototype. Atlanta needs a lot of defensive help.