The Atlanta Falcons should draft Malik Willis, considering they’re in a full teardown of the franchise, whether or not they admit it.
Maybe the Atlanta Falcons don’t want to admit a tough season is ahead. Fair enough. But one is coming.
The Falcons traded away quarterback Matt Ryan, a former MVP who took them to the Super Bowl and the brink of a championship in 2016. Since then, Atlanta has only won a single playoff game and hasn’t reached the postseason since the end of the 2017 campaign.
With Ryan having been shipped off to the Indianapolis Colts for a third-round pick in this year’s NFL Draft — leaving behind a huge $40 million dead cap hit, the Falcons are rebuilding.
On Wednesday, head coach Arthur Smith assessed his team’s situation, without saying it’s a complete overhaul. Via ESPN:
“I don’t know what coach is going to coach a team and say, ‘Hey guys, we’re rebuilding.’ I understand where we’re at — we’re in transition. And there is certain elements, you are, you’re constantly rebuilding in the NFL. Your roster changes year to year so much.
“It’s more of a team philosophy in the players that we have here competing every day and the coaches. So I understand you’re talking about big-picture, and I’m not dismissing that. But I’m just talking about your charge when you’re in the National Football League: Our objective is to win football games.”
Looking at Atlanta’s roster, it’s an easy argument as a bottom-five roster in the league, and perhaps the worst.
Enter the upcoming draft, and Liberty quarterback Malik Willis.
In a rookie crop not believed to be strong for signal-callers, Willis is one who stands out. Having covered the Senior Bowl, Willis was very impressive with his athleticism and arm talent, rocketing one ball after the next outside the numbers. He’s also a joy to speak with, showcasing a poise and maturity beyond his years.
Considering the Falcons are getting ready to start Marcus Mariota under center, Willis should be a prime target, especially since he’s a native to Atlanta.
Holding the No. 8 overall pick, the Falcons may need to jump an NFC South rival in the Carolina Panthers to nab Willis. If that’s the case, so be it. Use the third-round choice from Ryan’s jettisoning to make it happen.
Without Willis, it’s going to be an ugly year for a team going nowhere. With him, there’s excitement in the fan base, even with the likelihood of mounting losses.
It’s a rebuild in Atlanta. Doesn’t mean it has to be boring.