The Falcons have dipped heavily into the Senior Bowl group in recent years; last year they selected Desmond Ridder, Arnold Ebiketie, Troy Andersen, Justin Shaffer, and DeAngelo Malone out of the group; five of their eight draft picks. In 2021, they selected Richie Grant, Frank Darby, Ta’Quon Graham, and Darren Hall; four of their eight draft picks. They also picked up Feleipe Franks as an undrafted free agent. It’s safe to assume they will be dipping into this group heavily once again. After watching some guys improve their stock, who could be on Atlanta’s radar? I’ll be updating this after the combine, after free agent signings, and before the draft. Additionally, if there are any big trades, I’ll make another one as well. If you want to check out Mock Draft 1.0, it’s linked below:
Round 1, Pick 8: CB Devon Witherspoon — Illinois
My big boards haven’t come out yet, but they’re starting up soon. Devon Witherspoon is my clear cut CB1 for multiple reasons. A lot of Falcons fans don’t like the idea of a cornerback with the 8th pick, but if you look at guys like Pat Surtain II and Sauce Gardner both making All Pro teams, how could you not want to potentially pair someone like that with AJ Terrell?
Witherspoon has some of the best tape for any position in this draft. He’s a physical, sticky corner that is violent at the line of scrimmage and has very impressive ball skills. He’s a good tackler that can play special teams — something the Falcons always covet. The Falcons have a lot of money to spend in free agency, so if they properly add some pieces to their pass rush and run defense, Witherspoon can be the final piece of a truly good defense — something Atlanta hasn’t had in forever. If you have your doubts about Witherspoon, just turn on the tape — I promise.
2022 Stats: 41 Total Tackles, 2.5 Tackles for Loss, 14 Passes Defended, 3 Interceptions
OH MY DEVON WITHERSPOON YOU SERIOUS??? WHAT. A. HIT. pic.twitter.com/B1mJNV9XF7
— The Transfer Portal CFB (@TPortalCFB) September 3, 2022
Devon Witherspoon. DAMN pic.twitter.com/AOEK7OiF9f
— Ryan Fowler (@_RyanFowler_) November 19, 2022
Round 2, Pick 45: EDGE Isaiah Foskey — Notre Dame
Foskey was someone I wanted to talk about, even before his Senior Bowl performance. It was a tough choice between him and Derick Hall of Auburn here — both guys had a fantastic week of practice. The Falcons clearly need pass rushers, and this free agent class isn’t exactly flush with them. Foskey is the type of prospect worth considering trading up for at the end of round one. He has the production, posting back-to-back 10+ sack seasons in 2021 and 2022. He’s an upper echelon athlete with tons of burst. Scouts and coaches rave about his leadership and character. He’s also a special teams warrior. Sounds like a Falcons pick to me. Foskey paired with Ebiketie, Malone, and some of the other guys I have in mind should give the Falcons a lot of upside in their pass rush, something they haven’t had in a very long time.
2022 Stats: 44 Total Tackles, 13.5 Tackles for Loss, 1 Forced Fumble, 1 Fumble Recovery, 10.5 Sacks
Length, explosiveness, power: the Isaiah Foskey experience pic.twitter.com/RMXL6kxT40
— Ryan Roberts (@RiseNDraft) February 1, 2023
Notre Dame DE Isaiah Foskey (#7 right EDGE in this clip) is as good as any college player at the strip sack. He had six forced fumbles in 2021. Another great season in 2022 will help land him a spot in Round 1 of next year’s NFL draft. pic.twitter.com/Z9vUxFVDOz
— Todd McShay (@McShay13) July 13, 2022
Getting back to scouting today, and picking things up with Notre Dame EDGE Isaiah Foskey! He has 9 sacks and 5 FF on the year.
Love this rep. Goes speed to power, rips the outside shoulder, and closes ground quickly in pursuit, forcing the INT.
— Ian Cummings (@IC_Draft) November 26, 2021
Round 3, Pick 76: WR Tank Dell — Houston
One of the big winners of the Senior Bowl; with a good combine, Dell could absolutely push himself into the first half of the second round. For now, I think this is a decent range for him. Falcons fans are averse to seeing receivers on these mock drafts for some reason, and I have no idea why. The room has nothing outside of Drake London, and there isn’t a guy worth paying big money to like Tee Higgins in this free agent class.
Dell is a prospect who just straight up gets open. He does his best work with the ball in his hands after the catch. He didn’t run a lot of NFL routes at Houston, but if the Falcons can work with his strengths, he’ll make life a lot easier on Desmond Ridder, or whoever the quarterback for the Falcons is in 2023. Allowing him to work underneath with attention on Kyle Pitts and Drake London could really open up this Falcons offense. We are talking about the player who led college football in receiving yards and touchdowns.
2022 Stats: 109 Catches, 1398 Yards, 17 Touchdowns, 12.8 YPC
.@UHCougarFB WR Tank Dell’s quickness and speed are standing out every rep he’s on the field. Gained separation at release, into the route, and on the break. This was almost the play of the day pic.twitter.com/QshK6eQILM
— Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) February 1, 2023
Here is every 1 on 1 rep by #Houston WR Tank Dell on Day 1 of the @seniorbowl pic.twitter.com/p3C11PiirT
— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) February 1, 2023
Round 4, Pick 111 (From Tennessee): IDL Zacch Pickens — South Carolina
Even if the Falcons grab someone like Javon Hargrave or Daron Payne to pair with Grady Jarrett, they need some depth at the position. Enter Zacch Pickens. Continuing the trend of Senior Bowl standouts, Pickens was a bully in Mobile. The former five-star recruit has all of the physical tools you want at 305 pounds, and he could be the true space eater the Falcons have been desperately missing. He’s a great pass rusher for a guy his size, and he consistently dominated one-on-ones at Senior Bowl practice. If he has a good combine, don’t be surprised if he’s a day two pick.
2022 Stats: 42 Total Tackles, 4 Tackles for Loss, 4.5 Sacks, 3 Passes Defended, 1 Fumble Recovery
John Michael Schmitz vs. Zacch Pickens #SeniorBowl pic.twitter.com/XnwqHDAi1q
— WalkTheMock (@WalkTheMock) February 1, 2023
Thought there were a lot of high moments for Zacch Pickens against Clemson.
They started the game trying to scheme him on a stunt, but here just let him win with technique.
Great job of resetting his hands and ripping through the guard. pic.twitter.com/pGG5u9egsf
— Evan Crowell (@evanvcrowell) December 6, 2022
Round 4, Pick 114: WR Xavier Hutchinson — Iowa State
I considered taking Jayden Reed, another Senior Bowl standout, out of Michigan State here, but Hutchinson fits the Arthur Smith mold. If they sign someone like Allen Lazard in free agency, I could see Atlanta going with another dynamic receiver more similar to Tank Dell, our third round pick. Hutchinson is a physical receiver, and he uses his 6’3 frame and 74 3/4″ wingspan to go up for contested balls. For as big as he is, he makes a lot of impressive plays in the open field. He can also create a lot of short-area separation, so hopefully he can do much of what Drake London does, even if it isn’t at as high of a level. If he wants to be as good as London, by all means, go for it. With a big combine, he might not be available here. Thankfully for the Falcons, this class is pretty deep at wide receiver.
2022 Stats: 107 Catches, 1171 Yards, 6 Touchdowns, 10.9 YPC
Xavier Hutchinson vs. Darrell Luter Jr.
I must admit I thought Hutchinson was very stiff before coming to the senior bowl, love seeing these match up in person pic.twitter.com/oCFUPDdsh0
— Mike Vallerie (@FF_DirtyMike) February 1, 2023
Xavier Hutchinson gets some separation on the comeback route #SeniorBowl pic.twitter.com/PXwHw8dDuE
— Tyler Browning (@DiabeticTyler) February 1, 2023
⭐️6’3 205 LBS
⭐️107 REC, 1171 YDS, 6TDS (2022)
⭐️4.49 40, very physical player pic.twitter.com/Fho092eXde
— College Football Recruiting (@fb_recruiting33) January 24, 2023
Round 5, Pick 162 (From Jacksonville): EDGE Ali Gaye — LSU
Gaye has some of the best tools in this entire EDGE class. He’s 6’6 with gangly arms and is incredibly fast off the edge. He also displays some pretty good bend, but as far as a technical pass rusher, he’s very raw. He often gets too tall, but that’s something that can be fixed with proper coaching. He also has to get a bit stronger to avoid getting washed away in the run game. In terms of his draft status, he may not be here in the fifth round if he blows up the combine. Right now, that’s still to be determined, so I’ll happily take him here.
2022 Stats: 36 Total Tackles, 6 Tackles for Loss, 2 Passes Defended, 2 Forced Fumbles, 2.5 Sacks
Warren McClendon vs Ali Gaye, pt. II
Gaye is too fast pic.twitter.com/6g1Yo7dyp7
— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) February 1, 2023
Official Senior Bowl Measurements #TheDraftStartsInMOBILE™️ pic.twitter.com/fuaTk407Dp
— Reese's Senior Bowl (@seniorbowl) January 31, 2023
Photographer: Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire
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