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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, February 26, 2024

Off the Gridiron: Answering the biggest questions of the NFL Draft


Which QB should the 49ers select at No. 3

If I were San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch, I would select Justin Fields without any hesitation. A refined pocket passer and a dynamic athlete, the former Ohio State standout would take the already innovative 49ers offense to another level. Imagine a two-play sequence in which Fields takes a QB-keeper for 40 yards and then delivers a 50-yard bomb down the seam on the following play — in other words, completing the crucial throw that Jimmy Garoppolo missed in Super Bowl LIV. While I believe Fields is the right choice, I would not be upset if the 49ers selected North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance. With the combination of his 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame, speed and arm strength, it is easy to see why some NFL executives have become infatuated with Lance’s highest potential. Furthermore, with Garoppolo on the roster, the 49ers will be able to mitigate the only knock on Lance that does not make him quite ready for the NFL: the lack of experience against challenging defenses. 

Most important to me is that the 49ers do not draft Mac Jones. I don’t have anything against Jones and he could end up being a good starting quarterback in the league, but I just do not feel that he offers significantly more than Garoppolo. Because he is a pure pocket passer who lacks the athletic ability to extend the play once it breaks down, it would be difficult for the 49ers to justify trading three first-round picks to select another Kirk Cousins, Matt Ryan or Matt Schaub archetype. 

What should the Falcons do at No. 4?

With the No. 4 pick, the Atlanta Falcons could draft their next franchise quarterback, select "unicorn" Kyle Pitts or trade down to accumulate assets. Yes, there are clear benefits with each option, but I believe being in the position to select a franchise quarterback is too great of an opportunity to pass up. Additionally, 35-year-old Matt Ryan would be the perfect mentor and bridge to either Fields or Lance. Furthermore, the rookie quarterback would be throwing to Hayden Hurst, Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones in head coach Arthur Smith’s quarterback-friendly scheme. Looking around the division, Tom Brady will not be able to play for much longer, I don’t fully believe in the Saints’ effort to rehabilitate Jameis Winston and I’m not convinced that Sam Darnold is the long-term answer for the Panthers. In other words, the Falcons have to draft and develop their next franchise quarterback so that they are in a position to dominate the post-Brady NFC South. 

The Falcons’ roster is not in bad enough shape that they can justify forgoing the opportunity to draft a quarterback in order to shore up the rest of their roster. Even though drafting Pitts to pair with Ridley would give the Falcons a deadly pass-catching pair for years to come, it would mean nothing if they have nobody to throw to them. I’m starting to get worried that the restructuring of Matt Ryan’s contract means that the Falcons are leaning toward not drafting a quarterback. If I were the Falcons’ general manager, I would begin the Arthur Smith-Terry Fontenot regime by drafting the Falcons’ next franchise quarterback and thus provide some clarity for the post-Ryan era in Atlanta. 

Should the Bengals go with Sewell or a pass catcher at No. 5?

Sitting at No. 5, the Cincinnati Bengals are deciding whether to protect franchise quarterback Joe Burrow or provide him with a game-changing pass catcher. They are likely choosing between Oregon OT Penei Sewell, Louisiana State University WR Ja’Marr Chase (Burrow’s former teammate) or Florida TE Kyle Pitts (if Atlanta does not take him). If I were making the decision, I would select Sewell in a heartbeat. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this, but I settled on the Sewell side of this debate after seeing a meme on Twitter. The now viral meme captures the idea that if Cincinnati drafts Chase instead of Sewell, it doesn't matter who Burrow is throwing to because he’ll be on the ground. Yes, the Bengals need another outside receiver to complement Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, and any team could use Pitts. However, the pass catchers become irrelevant if the quarterback cannot get them the ball. 

Drafting Sewell would dramatically improve the Bengals’ offensive line, even if it means sliding one of the presumptive tackles Jonah Williams or Riley Reiff, or Sewell himself, to guard or center. Furthermore, selecting Sewell does not mean that the Bengals are completely ignoring their WR room. History has shown us that elite outside receivers can be found in the second round, recently including Davante Adams, A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf and Allen Robinson. I think it's much safer for the Bengals to select Sewell than to take a pass catcher like Terrace Marshall Jr, Rashod Bateman or Dyami Brown in a later round. Having already suffered a nasty knee injury playing behind a lackluster offensive line, it is time for the Bengals to invest in protecting their franchise quarterback and give him a legitimate opportunity to elevate the players around him.