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Former UGA QB Justin Fields is one of the key figures in the upcoming NFL draft.

Former UGA star hoping Atlanta Falcons draft Justin Fields

Brandon Adams

The Atlanta Falcons play their home games approximately 70 miles from Georgia’s campus. Given that proximity, there’s always interest in which UGA players could be on the Falcons’ radar when the NFL draft approaches. Sometimes that curiosity also extends to players who were only briefly with the Bulldogs.

This year’s draft is expected to be quarterback-heavy near the beginning of the first round, and the Falcons are one of the teams who could potentially select a signal caller with their first pick (No. 4 overall).

Some mock drafts have Atlanta taking Justin Fields in that spot. Fields, of course, began his career with the Bulldogs as a freshman in 2018 before transferring to Ohio State and leading the Buckeyes to two College Football Playoff appearances.

Despite the controversy surrounding Fields’ departure from UGA, there are plenty of Bulldogs fans who would take it as great news to get a second chance to root for Fields. Yet not every draft expert thinks Fields is the quarterback Atlanta could target.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper recently projected the Falcons to trade up from fourth to the second pick and take former BYU quarterback Zach Wilson.

Former UGA wide receiver Terrence Edwards joined DawgNation Daily last week to say the Falcons would be making a mistake to pass on Fields if the organization’s scouts give a similar grade to he and Wilson.

“there’s two folds to an organization,” Edwards said. “It’s about winning games and putting butts in the seats. Justin Fields will bring people to the stadium.”

Edwards’ opinion comes from his experience as a player. In addition to a record-setting career at UGA, and a long tenure in the Canadian Football League, Edwards also spent 2003 with the Falcons. It was during that season that Edwards saw how popular a quarterback can be in Atlanta.

“I played with Michael Vick,” Edwards said. “Michael Vick was an electric quarterback. He wasn’t known for his throwing ability. He was known for making the big plays. And people came to the stadium every Sunday to watch Mike play and see what show he was going to be able to put on.”

It’s true that the Falcons regularly sold out games once Vick — who was taken with the No. 1 pick in the 2001 draft — became starting quarterback. That’s a fact more significant than it might seem. The Falcons sold out just two games in the team’s first NFC championship season in 1998, and didn’t have any sellouts in the three seasons prior to that.

Edwards thinks Fields could bring a similar energy to the Falcons now.

“I think Justin can bring that hometown feel,” Edwards said. “A guy who was born in raised in the state of Georgia. I think he could bring that feeling back to Mercedes-Benz Stadium.”

As Edwards notes, Fields’ ties to Georgia extend beyond his brief time at UGA. He also graduated from Harrison High School in Cobb County.

Is that fact enough to raise the profile of a Falcons organization that’s once again dealing with issues related to ticket sales?

The 2020 season didn’t offer many opportunities for fans to attend in Atlanta or any other city around the NFL due to the global pandemic, but prior to the season’s start, the AJC reported that defaults on personal seat licenses — which are payments made to secure the right to purchase Falcons tickets — had reached $43 million.

Could Fields help stem that tide of lost revenue? Edwards thinks he possibly could, and he believes it’s a bet worth making.

“It’s about making money at the end of the day,” Edwards said.

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