Falcons make shocking trade with Saints in mock draft from The Athletic

NFL: SEP 18 Saints at Panthers

It is just about 24 hours from the 2024 NFL Draft, and the final mock drafts of the year are pouring in from outlets everywhere. We have discussed a plethora of mock drafts this offseason, too many to count, covering all of the potential avenues the Falcons could take tomorrow. However, the latest mock draft from The Athletic’s NFL staff of beat writers has Atlanta doing something I haven’t seen anyone conjure up this offseason, swinging a draft day trade with their division rivals, the New Orleans Saints. 

8. New Orleans Saints (from Falcons*): Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame

Falcons trade No. 8 to Saints for Nos. 14 and 45.

The Saints trading up? It’s like the sun rising in the east when it comes to the NFL Draft. But with the hated Falcons? Hey, I can still envision good buddies Mickey Loomis and Terry Fontenot overcoming the franchises’ bitterness to pull off an unexpected move. Tackle is an obvious choice for the Saints given their question marks at both spots (vacant at left tackle, Ryan Ramczyk’s aching knee at right tackle). I expected to consider Olu Fashanu or JC Latham at No. 14. But it’s hard to pass on Alt, the clear best tackle in this draft, when he fell within striking distance. I can live with “Who Dats” complaining about losing a second-round pick in the trade. Alt is well worth it. — Larry Holder

Because of Terry Fontenot’s relationship with Mickey Loomis, I wouldn’t totally count out the Falcons making some kind of trade with the Saints in the future. However, not one of this magnitude.

I don’t care how good of buddies the two are, Fontenot should have absolutely no interest in helping the Saints get better. An argument could be made that Joe Alt is the best overall prospect in this draft class, a future franchise left tackle for the next decade. Nobody needs a tackle more than the New Orleans Saints, landing Alt for nothing more than a first and second round pick this year would be a home run for Mickey Loomis.

This just isn’t going to happen, and if it does, Terry Fontenot should be fired on the spot, because he’s not fit to be a general manager. Personal relationships and draft capital aside, you don’t make life easier for your division rivals. If anything, the Falcons should be willing to take less draft capital from another team to ensure the Saints don’t draft the prospect of their choice.

Fontenot can share a nice dinner and treat his former mentor to a $1,000 bottle of wine another night. Tomorrow isn’t about friendship. It’s about separating yourself from the rest of the division. There is no scenario where the Falcons should be willing to trade with the Saints in the first round unless Loomis is willing to grossly overpay, and an extra second round pick to move back six spots is not enough.

With the 14th pick in the draft, Falcons beat reporter Josh Kendall has the Falcons taking Texas defensive tackle Byron Murphy.

14. Atlanta Falcons (from Saints*): Byron Murphy II, DT, Texas

A late riser (at least publicly) in the draft process, the 6-foot, 297-pounder is maybe the most explosive player pound-for-pound in this draft. A member of Bruce Feldman’s “Freaks List,” Murphy only started one year at Texas and didn’t put up spectacular numbers (eight career sacks and 70 career tackles), but he can be a pass-rush presence on the interior because of his quick twitch off the line of scrimmage. Plus, by moving down from No. 8 to No. 14, Atlanta now has the Nos. 43 and 45 picks and thus can address edge rusher and cornerback early in the second round. — Josh Kendall

Murphy is a name that has picked up a lot of steam in recent weeks, and even though he adds to a position of strength, I have no problem with the Falcons moving down, acquiring another second round pick, and taking the best defensive player on their big board. My only issue with this is that they traded with the Saints, helping them land a franchise left tackle. That cannot happen.

Photographer: David Jensen/Icon Sportswire

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