As I said after the game against the Jets, it’s always much more fun to do these after a big win. The Falcons showed some incredible resolve, and Matt Ryan led the Falcons down the field to set up the game-winning field goal. Kyle Pitts was fantastic yet again, and he was an X-Factor in the victory. Now, the Falcons hold the 17th pick in the draft, with a chance to beat the reeling Panthers and get above .500 next week. I’m going to mix up my picks over the season, so I’ll link the previous mock drafts below if you think I missed out on a player. Once again, I’ll be using RiseNDraft’s simulator, so if you disagree with my picks, you can make your own.
Round 1, Pick 17: EDGE George Karlaftis, Purdue
We went with Jordan Davis out of Athens, Georgia in my Mock Draft 3.0, so today, I’ll be taking the big and freaky athlete George Karlaftis out of Athens…Greece.
At 6’4 and 275 pounds, Karlaftis moves like a guy half that size. Not only does he have terrific get-off and strength, but Karlaftis is also technically sound. Considering the need for Atlanta and defensive line coach Gary Emanuel’s connection to Purdue, this pick makes even more sense for the Falcons. With the way Karlaftis eats up double teams, game planning around him and Grady Jarrett should prove difficult for opposing offenses. He draws a lot of comparison to another Purdue product — Ryan Kerrigan.
Round 2, Pick 50: QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
I probably would have gone Jahan Dotson out of Penn State or Adam Anderson out of Georgia again in this spot, but I took them in previous weeks, so I’ll mix it up.
This isn’t a great quarterback class, but perhaps nobody has improved their draft stock more this season than Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett. He has led Pittsburgh to a 6-1 record, including last Saturday’s win over Clemson. Pickett is a classic gunslinger, so he can generate a lot of mistakes from being overconfident. However, he is relatively mobile and a supremely talented passer. He can push the ball to all three levels of the field and is a very experienced quarterback as a redshirt senior. I had a few options in mind here, but I’ll mix it up and go with Pickett to replace Matt Ryan in two or three years.
Round 2, Pick 68 (From Tennessee): CB Derion Kendrick, Georgia
It’s uncertain if Isaiah Oliver will be back in 2022, but he played well before an injury ended his 2021 season. Oliver had finally settled into a role as a nickel corner, but with Fabian Moreau serving primarily as a band-aid, the Falcons are going to have to address the position somehow.
Kendrick was on my radar in the 2021 Draft, but he decided to stay in school and transfer to Georgia. The former quarterback and receiver is now a lean corner who could immediately serve on the boundary for Atlanta. He’s reasonably balanced, not too sticky in man coverage, but not also nowhere near a liability. He also understands zone concepts well for a younger player, and he can serve many different roles in coverage. Kendrick’s understanding of both sides of the ball should appeal to Atlanta. You’re looking at a potential plug-and-play boundary corner who can make an impact on special teams immediately in round two. I’ll take it.
Round 3, Pick 81: EDGE Jermaine Johnson, Florida State
In what could have potentially been three Georgia Bulldogs in a row, I’ll continue to add to the pass rush in the third round. Jermaine Johnson is way too appealing to pass up on here. Karlaftis is a good start, and Ade Ogundeji has shown some flashes, but the Falcons still need more youth and talent on the defensive front. Like Karlaftis, Johnson is a massive defensive end at 6’5 and 245 pounds with freakish athleticism. His potential as a stand-up pass rusher appeals to me, and if the Falcons decide to move on from Dante Fowler Jr. (or keep him), Johnson is another versatile player who can help Atlanta get to the quarterback.
Round 4, Pick 120: IDL Devonte Wyatt, Georgia
As I mentioned, I took Jordan Davis last week. This week, I’ll take his partner-in-crime Devonte Wyatt to help plug up the middle of this Falcons defensive line. With Jaylinn Hawkins playing so well and Richie Grant showing flashes, I’m comfortable with the Falcons secondary after adding Kendrick and retaining Oliver. Adding Karlaftis, Johnson, and Wyatt to the defensive front loads up this Atlanta defense and gives them a bevy of young pieces to work with.
Wyatt is a mountain of a man at 6’3 and 315 pounds, and he can play inside-out across the defensive front. That’s pretty rare for a guy that’s as big as he is. Wyatt is very quick and uses his leverage to win at the point of attack. He reminds me of another prospect I liked in the 2021 Draft — Carlos Basham Jr. Once again, Wyatt is another versatile piece that should appeal to Dean Pees and help give the Falcons a foundation up front.
Round 5, Pick 159: RB Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State
This is still a logical spot for a project quarterback like Jayden Daniels, but there’s no way I can let Kenneth Walker III go any further down the draft board.
As Michigan State continues to surprise in the 2021 season, Kenneth Walker III is gaining traction as a top running back in the 2022 Draft. Walker is a bowling ball at 5’10 and 220 pounds, and he gets the tough yards for the Spartans. As big as he is, he’s very quick with his cuts and explodes through holes for chunk plays; though Walker isn’t a burner, he has good speed when he can make a man miss and get into space. The Falcons should retain Cordarrelle Patterson this offseason, but Walker is your potential Mike Davis replacement after 2022 and could become a possible franchise feature back.