The 2022 season has come to a close with the Falcons finishing 7-10. The Falcons finally beat Tom Brady, and it didn’t affect their draft position. This is going to be an interesting draft for the Falcons, mainly because they’re going to have a lot of money to spend in free agency to address the needs on their roster. That means they could target a quarterback or go with the best player available. If you’ve been reading my Mock Draft Monday series, the goal was to mix up the picks and talk about different players the Falcons could target. Now, I’ll be pivoting to what I think the Falcons should do. This series will be updated as free agency goes along, after the Senior Bowl, after the combine, compensation picks, etc. I’ll also be doing later editions with trades. Draft Order is via Tankathon. Let’s get started:
Round 1, Pick 8: CB Joey Porter Jr. — Penn State
Operating under the assumption (and praying) the Falcons address the trenches in free agency, I will go with the guy that I see as the best player available. The son of Steelers legend Joey Porter significantly impacted the Nittany Lions’ defense in 2022. Porter is a lengthy and imposing corner at 6’2 and 200 pounds, but his nose for the football may be what’s most impressive. JPJ is constantly around the football, breaking up passes, and he’s a player you can move all around the secondary to support against the run. Porter is definitely a defensive piece that you can build around, especially when paired with AJ Terrell. This Falcons secondary has some promising young players, but they still need lots of help.
Round 2, Pick 45: TE Darnell Washington — Georgia
Okay, don’t roll your eyes. Instead, close them, and imagine Darnell Washington paired with Kyle Pitts and Drake London. I think Washington is the best player available by a mile. He stands at a menacing 6’7 and 270 pounds. Not only does he move like a guy half that size, but he also has soft hands and is a tenacious run blocker. Don’t be surprised if Washington starts getting some first round love — he is an absolute specimen. This team needs weapons, and Washington could be a huge one. If the Falcons properly address the trenches in free agency, Washington is the type of pick that can give a bad offense a boost.
Round 3, Pick 76: EDGE Zach Harrison — Ohio State
Harrison’s stock may have risen after a good Peach Bowl showing, but this is around where scouts have him going at the moment. I think his athletic upside makes him a worthy pick for a team that has a pass rush that is almost nonexistent. Harrison can be a little stiff at times, but he’s a great athlete with the length and build you want in a pass rusher. He does need some seasoning and coaching, so hopefully the Falcons get a few guys to patch up the pass rush while he develops. At worst, he’s a rotational piece on a team that doesn’t have much of a rotation. At best, he’s a gem in the third round.
Round 4, Pick 110 (via Tennessee): EDGE Dylan Horton — TCU
Even if the Falcons upgrade their pass rush in free agency, they still need a few young bodies to groom and get into the rotation. Dylan Horton played the game of his life against Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl, notching four sacks and forcing a fumble. At 6’4, 275, he’s a guy you can play as a defensive lineman or cut some weight on and have him come off the edge. Horton’s effort is evident on tape, and he plays all over TCU’s defense. Don’t be surprised if he shoots up draft boards with a big showing against Georgia.
Round 4, Pick 113: IDL Byron Young — Alabama
Maybe not the B. Young from Bama that you were looking for, but Byron brings a lot to the table. The Falcons need some physical, tough guys up the middle — and that’s exactly what Young provides. The Senior is a strong, solid athlete who can eat up space for (hopefully) Atlanta’s new pass rushers and Grady Jarrett. Grabbing someone like Young can really give a boost to a pretty poor Falcons defense.
Round 5, Pick 156 (via Jacksonville): RB Tyjae Spears — Tulane
The last fifth round running back the Falcons took worked out pretty well, so how about adding a little lightning to Allgeier’s thunder? Spears went nuts against USC, rushing for 205 yards on 17 carries with four rushing touchdowns. He is a big play back with exceptional burst, and if he can develop as a weapon in the passing game, the Falcons will have another gem in the fifth round.
Photographer: Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire