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. Now, the Falcons hold the 19th pick in the draft, with a chance to get above .500 next week. Right now, the Falcons are in the playoffs if the season ended today. 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 19: CB Sauce Gardner, Cincinnati
You’d know I was all about Northwestern cornerback Greg Newsome II if you followed me during the last draft cycle. So far, Newsome has been excellent for the Browns, as he’s already one of the best rookies in the entire NFL. Like Newsome, Gardner is a sticky coverage corner with ideal size and athleticism. Over his career (as of October 21st), Gardner has 863 coverage snaps. He has never allowed a touchdown, and he has allowed a 30.4 passer rating. With AJ Terrell looking like an elite corner and Isaiah Oliver hopefully continuing his encouraging play in the slot in 2022, Gardner could create a seriously potent young secondary core for the Falcons, something they haven’t had in a while. Right now, Gardner is challenging Derek Stingley for CB1 on my board.
Round 2, Pick 51: LB Nakobe Dean, Georgia
Get used to it; Nakobe Dean will be a regular on these mock drafts until April. I want the Falcons to retain Foyesade Oluokun, but you can never have enough rangy linebackers in today’s NFL — especially with so many talented pass-catching running backs in the NFC South. Dean is also one of the better run defenders in college football, something the Falcons are having issues with. The balance and versatility he would bring to this Falcons defense should appeal to Dean Pees, and if he can get to the quarterback as he does at Georgia — watch out.
Round 2, Pick 63 (From Tennessee): RB Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State
One of the biggest risers in the draft process, Kenneth Walker III makes a lot of sense for the Falcons. Mike Davis has had some tough games in 2021, but it’s not all of his fault; he often has defenders in his face as he approaches the line of scrimmage. Walker rushed for five touchdowns as Michigan State took down Michigan, and he showed a lot of patience and vision when there wasn’t much daylight behind his offensive line. As gifted as he is physically, his vision could make him Atlanta’s next franchise running back.
Round 3, Pick 83: WR Wan’Dale Robinson, Kentucky
Many respected draft pundits in Falcons Twitter are big fans of Wan’Dale Robinson, and I’m starting to see the light. Robinson is a smaller receiver, but he is a dynamic playmaker with the ball in his hands — precisely what the Falcons need. He reminds me a lot of Rondale Moore, Dionte Johnson, and Deebo Samuel. Arthur Smith could use Moore in a lot of the same ways he uses Cordarelle Patterson.
Round 4, Pick 121: EDGE David Ojabo, Michigan
While he may get a bit overshadowed by his teammate Aidan Hutchison, David Ojabo has made a lot of noise as a junior for Michigan. Ojabo has been raising hell in 2021, forcing four fumbles and getting to the quarterback eight times. He’s shown some awe-inspiring pass rush moves for a guy who didn’t start playing football until his junior year of high school. At 6’5 and 250 pounds, he’s still developing, which is scary for a guy with his athleticism. At this point in the draft, there’s no way you can pass on Ojabo. I think he’ll enter the first-round conversation before too long.
Round 5, Pick 161: IDL Travon Walker, Georgia
I could see Travon Walker coming back to Athens for one more season, but if not, he’s absolutely worth drafting. Walker has some incredible arm length, and he can play inside-out across the defensive front. He plays with good leverage and uses his hands to win, something you want to see out of an interior defensive lineman. With the Falcons having issues stopping the run, plugging up the middle with Travon Walker could give the defense a big boost.