The Falcons are currently slotted to pick 8th overall in next month’s NFL draft, which means they’ll have an excellent chance of coming away with a blue-chip prospect. Atlanta sure needs as many as they can get; there’s a reason they’re picking top-ten in the draft for the second year in a row.
There are several players in the cards for the Falcons’ first-round pick—Kyle Hamilton, Ahmad Gardner, Derek Stingley, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Charles Cross, David Ojabo, Ikem Okwonu, Treylon Burks, and others. Atlanta will likely also have their pick of the quarterback litter in the 8th spot, even if many draft pundits believe they’ll go a different direction.
With four selections in the top 74 picks, the Falcons have a golden opportunity to add a real influx of talent to the roster. To increase the chances of hitting big on selections, the Falcons have to increase the number of draft picks in one of two ways—trading either players or draft picks.
Trading down from the 8th pick is definitely a possibility, though I think it is unlikely. However, we did see Terry Fontenot trade back in his first draft during the second round to acquire an additional fifth-round pick. Trading back from 8 should net Atlanta multiple lower-round picks, which could be used to fill the bevy of holes throughout the roster.
If you use Jimmy Johnson’s valuation model, the Falcons’ first-round pick is worth 1400 draft-capital points, so trading this valuable first-round slot would enable Atlanta to bolster their foundation with more players. Since the Falcons aren’t one, two, or even three players away from contending, Fontenot needs to pick up the pace of adding talent as well as depth pieces if the Falcons’ top brass wants to stay competitive during Matt Ryan’s twilight years, like they claim. The roster needs multiple wide receivers and defensive linemen, a cornerback, running back, offensive linemen, potentially a safety… frankly, it’d be easier to list what the Falcons don’t need.
However, I still don’t think it’s realistic for the Falcons trade down from the 8th overall pick as the title suggests. In most instances where a team trades up in the first round of the NFL draft, it is to select their quarterback of the future, as we’ve seen it time and time again. Given this quarterback class, that just doesn’t seem likely.
One tidbit to attach to that unlikelihood is that the Seahawks just traded Russell Wilson to the Broncos and suddenly need a signal caller. Seattle could look to Jimmy Garoppolo, Deshaun Watson, or another veteran available via trade. Or, they could find their future QB through the draft. Given the Falcons are set to pick 8th overall, they could find themselves in a trade-down scenario as the Wilson-less Seahawks are slotted to pick 9th overall. They can parlay the draft assets acquired from the Denver trade to move up; other quarterback-needy teams could also want to jump in front of the Seahawks to ensure they have their pick of the fairly slim quarterback class.
Obviously, Terry Fontenot wouldn’t make a trade until he knows who will be on the board when they’re on the clock. The difference between the prospects that’ll be available between the 8th and, say, 15th picks is insignificant in my early evaluations of this class. Still, the board could shake out much differently as we approach the draft, so we won’t know the best course of action until the night of the draft.
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