NFL Rumors: Potential Falcons OC brings obvious QB connections

If the Atlanta Falcons hired Cortez Hankton as their offensive coordinator, it may be a strong indication as to where the Dirty Birds are leaning at adding a quarterback under Raheem Morris.

Jayden Daniels, LSU Tigers
Jayden Daniels, LSU Tigers / Jonathan Bachman/GettyImages

While most people suspected that Zac Robinson would follow his former Los Angeles Rams colleague Raheem Morris to the Atlanta Falcons, there seems to be another very intriguing candidate to be the Dirty Birds' next offensive coordinator. That would be LSU Tigers co-offensive coordinator Cortez Hankton. While Hankton has been a college coach recently, he also played for Morris before.

Hankton played on the 2008 Tampa Bay Buccaneers that Morris previously led. After he was done playing in 2011, Hankton got into coaching. He started out as a wide receivers coach at Dartmouth in 2012 before making his way to the SEC, first with Vanderbilt in 2015 and then to Georgia in 2018 before leading his home state's flagship team in LSU in 2022. That brings me to two connections.

Most obviously, Hankton's time in LSU on Brian Kelly's staff completely overlapped with Jayden Daniels' two years in Baton Rouge after transferring over from Arizona State. Daniels went from a player some of his former Sun Devils were glad to see him go to becoming the third recipient of the Heisman Trophy in LSU football history, joining Joe Burrow and the late, great Billy Cannon in that.

There is one other quarterback Hankton crossed paths with. That would be Justin Fields in 2018...

What are the chances that either Daniels or the Chicago Bears starter ends up playing in Atlanta?

NFL rumors: Cortez Hankton's QB connections makes him a fit in Atlanta

The Daniels one makes a ton of sense. Hankton knows everything this blue-chip quarterback prospect is about. Atlanta may need to trade up from No. 8 to get him, but the Falcons are now just a quarterback away from contending in some pundits' eyes. Some people may be critical of the Morris hire, but players and coaches love him, great ones at that. Of course, we have to talk about Fields' fit...

For as much as I would love to have Daniels be the face of the Falcons franchise, the Atlanta front office has to seriously consider trading for Fields for so many reasons. One, the Bears have the No. 1 overall pick, meaning they can draft any quarterback of their choosing. It will likely be Caleb Williams out of USC, but guys like Drake Maye out of North Carolina, and even Daniels are all on the table.

Two, if the Bears were to draft a quarterback, they need to pivot off Fields entering year four out of Ohio State. He has so much talent, but has not quite lived up to the draft hype of Chicago trading up to get him No. 11 overall in 2021. You do remember the guy who moved up to get him was, right? That would be former Bears general manager Ryan Pace, who now works under Terry Fontenot in Atlanta.

So how does Hankton fit into all of this? Well, he was on the 2018 Georgia coaching staff, the one year Fields play for his home state's flagship institution. Fields hails from Kennesaw just outside of Atlanta. Although Dell McGee and Jim Chaney were his primary and secondary recruiters, he obviously knows of Hankton from their brief time together in Atlanta. The Falcons did pass on him...

But I think that might actually end up serving Atlanta in the end. They took a unicorn tight end out of Florida in Kyle Pitts over drafting Fields. The Falcons still had a future Hall-of-Fame quarterback in Matt Ryan. Unfortunately, his play rapidly decayed before our very eyes that season playing for Arthur Smith. He was traded to the Indianapolis Colts in the Deshaun Watson debacle, and he was terrible!

Flash forward to now, and Atlanta has two more first-round weapons besides Pitts in wide receiver Drake London and running back Bijan Robinson. To be frank, I don't think Atlanta even needs to give up the No. 8 pick to Chicago for Fields. Atlanta's 2025 first-round pick might be enough, maybe a second-round pick this year? By keeping the No. 8 pick, Atlanta can draft any number of weapons.

I think that may include Alabama defensive Dallas Turner, Washington wide receiver Rome Odunze or even LSU wide receiver Malik Nabers, a guy who played in the same position group that Hankton coached. Either way, the Falcons have a lot of interesting options to explore at the quarterback position. The idea of hiring Hankton might be able to jumpstart success because of his connections.

Atlanta may interview other candidates, but Robinson, and now Hankton honestly, have my intrigue.

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