Draft pundit thinks Falcons should trade down “but not too far”

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The Falcons came into the offseason with a clear goal of figuring out the quarterback position, and they certainly did that in the form of a $180 million deal with Kirk Cousins.

With the most important ‘to-do’ box checked, the Falcons are focused on filling out the roster around him and geared up for the NFL Draft. Holding the No. 8 overall pick for the third consecutive cycle, Terry Fontenot has an excellent opportunity to add another premier player to a team hopeful to contend in the postseason.

Most mock drafts have Atlanta’s GM landing a defender, most of the time it’s Dallas Turner but occasionally it’ll be Jared Verse, Laiatu Latu, or Quinyon Mitchell.

Falcons fans are typically begging for a premier pass rusher, but this year just feels different for some reason. Maybe it’s just me, I don’t know. This crop of pass rushers doesn’t have the same aura as the Nick Bosas, Myles Garretts, Micah Parsons, etc. of the world.

It just feels different. It’s not to say Verse, Turner, and Latu aren’t intriguing prospects, but maybe just not at the No. 8 pick. A trade down scenario could be the solution where the Falcons aren’t necessarily reaching but also fill the single most pressing roster need.

ESPN’s Bill Barnwell is a proponent of Fontenot trading out of the 8th pick… but not too far.

8. Atlanta Falcons

What they should do: Trade down (but not too far).

Unlike seemingly every other team in the top 10, the Falcons aren’t in the market for a quarterback, wide receiver or offensive lineman. If they stay put, there’s a good chance they will be the first team to take a defensive player. That’s not a bad place to stand. Go back to 2021, when the first seven picks off the board were offensive players. The Panthers took cornerback Jaycee Horn at No. 8. The next pick was corner Pat Surtain. Three picks later, the Cowboys made the third defensive selection of the draft and took linebacker Micah Parsons. Those are two transcendent players, and if Horn could stay healthy, he would get mentioned alongside Surtain and Sauce Gardner as one of the league’s best young cornerbacks.

Zigging when everyone is zagging isn’t the worst idea, but in a draft in which there isn’t a consensus No. 1 pass-rusher, the Falcons could move down a couple of spots and still have a decent shot of landing Dallas Turner (Alabama) or Laiatu Latu (UCLA). If we assume there are four quarterbacks, two wide receivers and one tackle off the board before this pick, this would be a spot in which a team could trade up for the WR3 or move ahead of the Bears (No. 9) and Jets (No. 10) for the second-best tackle in the class.

There is a laundry list of trade suitors the Falcons could make a deal with if Fontenot doesn’t see the value in standing pat.

There are the quarterback-needy teams right behind Atlanta, like the Vikings at No. 11, the Broncos at No. 12, and the Raiders at No. 13. Minnesota, Denver, and Las Vegas could all move up a few selections, but they’re far from the only ones.

If Joe Alt, Olu Fashanu, Malik Nabers or Rome Odunze fall to the Falcons, Fontenot could auction off the selection to a team in desperate need of a franchise left tackle or WR1.

The list of potential trade candidates is a long list — Jets (No. 10), Saints (No. 14), Bengals (No. 18), Cowboys (No. 24), Packers (No. 25), 49ers (No. 31), and Chiefs (No. 32).

The Falcons have a lot of options, and I don’t disagree with trading down if Terry Fontenot is dying to take a defender. The value just doesn’t seem to be there at No. 8.

Photographer: Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire


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