Even with the 2021 NFL Draft just coming to a close, there isn’t much of an offseason for checking out college talent. I have no idea where the Falcons will be picking in 2022; they have an extremely talented roster and an offensive mastermind at the helm calling plays. The defense is still an issue, but you’re blind if you think the Falcons can’t take a step up to the playoffs in 2021. I think Atlanta will at least fight for a playoff spot, but I’ll consider prospects from all over the first round. Besides, who knows where these guys will go in the draft a year from now.
An insanely deep group of quarterbacks
Right now, Spencer Rattler seems to be the favorite among the media to be selected first overall, joining Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield as Sooner quarterbacks chosen at the top of the draft. However, I think this could turn into another good-looking class with talent all over the board. Of course, not all of these guys are guaranteed to declare for the draft.
Sam Howell is incredibly talented as an athletic playmaker, even if he is a bit undersized. Tyler Shough should have a big season at Texas Tech after transferring from Oregon. Ditto for JT Daniels at Georgia. Kedon Slovis should be in the mix as well. Some of my favorite sleepers early on are Jayden Daniels, Matt Corral, and Grayson McCall.
Daniels is an insanely good athlete playing for Herm Edwards at Arizona State and could fly up draft boards during the 2021 season. Matt Corral should put up numbers in Lane Kiffin’s system, and he has a rocket of an arm. Grayson McCall spearheaded a magical 2020 Coastal Carolina season, and I think he will get some love leading up to the draft as well. Don’t sleep on Liberty’s Malik Willis, Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder, or Nevada’s Carson Strong either. If the Falcons do decide to take Matt Ryan‘s heir in this draft, there could be some great options to choose from in the mid-to-late rounds.
Some of the best defensive back prospects in years?
Derek Stingley Jr. will likely be the wire-to-wire CB1 in this class after a legendary freshman season, even though LSU took a step back after winning a National Championship. He has incredible ball skills and is rarely ever beat in coverage. Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton is a prime candidate to break the cycle of safeties not being selected in the first round, and Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner out of Cincinnati could cement himself as a top ten pick if he plays as he did in 2020. Josh Jobe out of Alabama and Florida’s Kaiir Elam are names to watch too. Of course, some guys will make their names heard throughout the season, but this is another group that looks extremely good early on. With the Falcons still needing help in the secondary, they could easily target one of these guys.
Monsters in the trenches
Of course, everyone will be buzzing about Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux, and he could easily be the wire-to-wire consensus first pick in this draft. A quarterback could have something to say about that, but Thibodeaux is an incredible talent on Oregon’s defensive line. Some other prospects on the defensive front seven generating noise are USC’s Drake Jackson, Alabama’s Christian Harris, Cincinnati’s Myjai Sanders, Texas A&M’s DeMarvin Leal, and Georgia’s Jordan Davis. On the offensive side, you have guys like Alabama’s Evan Neal, Miami’s Zion Nelson, Texas A&M’s Kenyon Green, and Penn State’s Rasheed Walker. The Falcons could use help in both trenches, and this is a great-looking group so far.
Best player available?
For now, wide receiver isn’t a need for the Falcons with Julio Jones still on the roster. However, we just saw the Falcons take a tight end fourth overall. Suppose they do decide to go for the best player available regardless of position. In that case, they could target either of the Ohio State wide receivers in Chris Olave or Garrett Wilson. Isaiah Spiller, the dynamic back out of Texas A&M, is another option. Georgia’s George Pickens or Alabama’s John Metchie III could be in play as well. It’s early, but any of these guys could have big-time seasons (outside of Pickens, who may not play due to injury).