One year ago, San Francisco’s trade up to the No. 3 pick to select Trey Lance meant the first three picks were quarterbacks.
“We were like the first pick of the draft last year, because especially when San Francisco traded up, we basically knew the first three players that were going to come off the board,” Fontenot said.
There is much less certainty about the quarterbacks in this year’s draft and which teams, including the Falcons, could look for help at the position in the first round.
After trading 14-year starter Matt Ryan to Indianapolis, the Falcons acquired veteran Marcus Mariota, who previously played for coach Arthur Smith when Smith was Tennessee’s offensive coordinator. Mariota is expected to open the season as the starter, and he also could serve as a mentor to a rookie if the Falcons add a quarterback in the draft.
Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett and Liberty’s Malik Willis are regarded as the top quarterbacks. There is debate about which will be selected first and how high either will be taken.
When asked if he would be surprised if no quarterback is selected among the first 15 picks, Fontenot said: “It really is tough to anticipate this draft. … If you know, you tell me.”
The Falcons have nine picks in the draft, including two selections each in the second, third and sixth rounds. They could look for a quarterback later in the draft or through free agency or a trade and wait to commit a first-round pick in 2023.
Alabama’s Bryce Young and Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud are part of what is anticipated to be a stronger quarterback class next year. Fontenot said “it’s comical” to make those predictions a year ahead of time.