Falcons fielding more calls than usual for No. 8 draft pick

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The Atlanta Falcons are fielding more calls than usual about trading their first-round draft pick, No. 8 overall, according to team general manager Terry Fontenot.

Fontenot said Tuesday that the surplus of quarterbacks who could go early has resulted in the Falcons having "preliminary" discussions with other teams about trading the selection.

Fontenot said at a news conference it would not be a surprise "to any of us" if quarterbacks were selected with the first four picks. USC's Caleb Williams, LSU's Jayden Daniels and North Carolina's Drake Maye, all quarterbacks, are expected to be the top three picks in the draft, which begins Thursday night. Other QBs, such as Michigan's J.J. McCarthy, could also jump into the top 10.

"It is unique, because when you can have possibly that many quarterbacks going right at the top, then it's gonna push down some really good skill players," Fontenot said. "And so, depending on [that], there could be a lot of action at some different spots around our pick. So right now, those calls are just exploratory."

NFL draft analyst Jordan Reid, in his latest mock, has the Falcons trading the No. 8 pick to the Minnesota Vikings, who then take McCarthy. He has Atlanta taking UCLA edge rusher Laiatu Latu at No. 11.

Fontenot says the Falcons now know the teams "that have some real interest" in trading up, though they haven't really discussed "what the value would be" yet in terms of a swap. The Falcons already filled their starting QB role with Kirk Cousins in free agency.

The Falcons have made adjustments to their pre-draft processes this year with the addition of head coach Raheem Morris, offensive coordinator Zac Robinson and defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake, all of whom came from the Los Angeles Rams. Fontenot said the Falcons have a great respect for what the Rams have done under GM Les Snead and coach Sean McVay, and the team has implemented changes "in terms of the way we meet, the way we grade -- just some small tweaks to improve in some areas."

Fontenot gets a particular kick out of watching film of draft-eligible players with Morris, who replaced Arthur Smith this offseason.

"You ever watch those old Batman movies with the sound effects?" Fontenot said. "So, that's what Raheem does when you're watching tape with him. If he likes a guy, he makes all those sound effects."

Fontenot maintained that most of the conversations about trading aren't particularly significant until a team is on the clock and "you start having those real conversations of what it would take" to make a move.

There are too many variables, he said.