This is the penultimate edition of this series, with my official predictions coming out right before the draft. I have no idea what the Falcons are going to do, but if I was in charge, this is how I would approach this draft. The Falcons, surprisingly, don’t have a ton of needs. My MO is and will always be best player available. I won’t be reaching for needs, because that’s not what good teams do. In these other mocks, I tried to talk about different players, but in this edition — this is what I want. There are reports that the Falcons are in favor of trading down, which is what I’ll be doing today. Previous editions are listed below:
- Falcons: Offseason 2023 Mock Draft 1.0 (5 Rounds)
- Falcons: Offseason 2023 Mock Draft 2.0 — Post Senior Bowl (5 Rounds)
- Falcons: Offseason 2023 Mock Draft 3.0 — Post Combine (5 Rounds)
- Falcons: Offseason 2023 Mock Draft 4.0 — Post Tampering Period (5 Rounds)
- Falcons: Offseason 2023 Mock Draft 5.0 — Trade Down Scenario (5 Rounds)
- Falcons: Offseason 2023 Mock Draft 6.0 — Trade Up Scenario (5 Rounds)
- Falcons: Offseason 2023 Mock Draft 7.0 — Post Okudah Trade & Trade Down Scenario (5 Rounds)
- Falcons: Offseason 2023 Mock Draft 8.0 — Trade Down for Nolan Smith Scenario (5 Rounds)
TheDraftNetwork’s Mock Draft Machine is finally up and running, so I’ll be using that to make these picks. I’ll also be using Relative Athletic Score, which you can find the details for here.
Here’s how I see the first seven picks going:
1. Carolina Panthers (From Chicago): QB Bryce Young — Alabama
2. Houston Texans: EDGE Tyree Wilson — Texas Tech
3. Arizona Cardinals: EDGE Will Anderson — Alabama
4. Indianapolis Colts: QB Anthony Richardson — Florida
5. Seattle Seahawks (From Denver): IDL Jalen Carter — Georgia
6. Detroit Lions (From Los Angeles): CB Christian Gonzalez — Oregon
7. Las Vegas Raiders: QB Will Levis — Kentucky
I truly think the Texans will pass on a quarterback in favor of Wilson, to everyone’s surprise and to Arizona’s delight. I also have another surprise — the Raiders taking Will Levis over CJ Stroud. Perhaps the Falcons would consider Stroud, but this is my mock, and I’m going to pass on a quarterback… for now.
Falcons Trade: Pick 8, Pick 224
Titans Trade: Pick 11, Pick 41, Pick 147
The Titans move up for CJ Stroud, who will be in very high demand. He will fetch a premium. I move back and grab the player I wanted all along. I also have plans for that 41st pick. The Falcons now have five picks in the top 100.
Round 1, Pick 11 (From Tennessee): CB Devon Witherspoon — Illinois
Cornerbacks have been high-impact players immediately in the past two drafts — look at Tariq Woolen, Patrick Surtain II, and Sauce Gardner. Witherspoon is a top-five player in this draft for me. He’s mean as hell; he’s one of the hardest hitting corners we’ve seen in recent memory, and he’s just as violent at the line of scrimmage with his press. He has some of the best ball skills in this entire class, and if he can add some functional strength to his frame, he has CB1 written all over him. Pairing him with AJ Terrell and a much improved safety room in Atlanta, and you’re looking at a lockdown secondary.
Round 2, Pick 41 (From Tennessee): EDGE Derick Hall — Auburn
Hall’s immediate impact as a run defender makes him the pick for me here. I was surprised to see him available in this simulation, but I’m not complaining. Hall’s best football is ahead of him; he needs to develop his plan as a pass rusher, but the upside is evident. He has the coveted bend that NFL teams look for to go along with great size and athleticism. The Falcons should be able to find snaps for him immediately against the run, and he’ll be learning from some talented veterans. He could be a ten-sack guy for Atlanta sooner rather than later, and at worst, he’s going to help the Falcons set the edge and shut down the outside run.
Round 2, Pick 44: LB Trenton Simpson — Clemson
With an extra second round pick in the fold, I grab a luxury position and add one of the most talented linebackers in the draft. It was a tough choice between Simpson and Jack Campbell. I considered a running back here — namely Zach Charbonnet — but I decided to pass on the position for now. Simpson is just too talented. We saw Ryan Nielsen use Kaden Elliss as a hybrid pass rusher/linebacker, and that seems to be Simpson’s future role in the NFL. Simpson has the best range in this entire class, and he’s a real enforcer in the run game. He dished out some very physical hits on tape. For a guy his size, he’s fantastic in coverage as well. The Falcons need to let Simpson be Simpson and try to develop him as a Swiss Army Knife. It’s not often you can grab an athletic freak who can get after the quarterback, cover in space, and hawk down ballcarriers with one pick.
Round 3, Pick 75: WR Rashee Rice — SMU
I love the value of Rashee Rice here, especially for a Falcons team that happens to need developmental receivers. Rice has the prototypical size and athleticism you want in an NFL receiver, and he makes some insane plays with the ball in his hands after the catch. He’s heralded as a leader in SMU’s offense, and he’s super competitive at the line of scrimmage and point of attack. He has also gotten better every year in college. Coming from an air raid offense, he’ll need to develop a true NFL route tree, but if he can grow behind Mack Hollins in year one, he has the potential to be a top-end WR2.
Round 4, Pick 110 (From Tennessee): TE Zack Kuntz — Old Dominion
The Falcons already had this pick from the Julio Jones trade, so why not take a swing on another freak weapon? You can’t really explain how insane Zack Kuntz is. His numbers from the combine: 6’8, 34″ arms, 23 Bench Press Reps, 40 Inch Vertical, 10’08” Broad Jump, 4.55 40-yard dash, 1.55 10-yard split, 4.12 Shuttle, and a 6.87 3-Cone. Guys that big do not move like that… unless they’re Rob Gronkowski. Now, there’s a reason he’s available here. He’s a project, especially as a run blocker, but he has insane length, a great catch radius, and really impressive hands. I’m more than willing to gamble on him here. I don’t care about need — if this guy develops, he’s going to be an absolute nightmare alongside Kyle Pitts and Drake London.
Round 4, Pick 114: RB Roschon Johnson — Texas
He isn’t his teammate Bijan Robinson, but there were times when Roschon Johnson was equally as impressive — which is saying a lot. I considered Jonathan Mingo out of Ole Miss here, but Johnson barely gets the nod; both guys could easily get taken before this pick. Johnson is a rare specimen; he’s a powerful runner with great balance, but he’s also an asset as a pass catcher. He has great vision and should be a seamless scheme fit. He offers a lot of what Tyler Allgeier does, but his pass catching ability should be a big-time plus for Atlanta.
Round 5, Pick 147 (From Tennessee): IOL Ricky Stromberg — Arkansas
I was really impressed with Stromberg at the combine, and it’s easy to sell yourself on a four-year SEC starter with experience at center and both guard spots. Stromberg profiles at center, but the Falcons can give him reps at left guard with his athletic profile. Stromberg has seen some top-notch competition, and yes, he has struggled at times. In Athens against Georgia in 2021 comes to mind, but that was one of the best defenses in college football history. The fact is that’s only one game, and Stromberg can move really well in space and is a powerful run blocker. He was also a plus pass blocker for Arkansas, and he has been coached by one of the best in Sam Pittman. The Falcons will value his leadership, high football IQ, scheme fit, and experience.
Round 7, Pick 225: OT Trevor Reid — Louisville
With my last two picks picks, I’m taking high-upside linemen with great athletic traits. Reid posted a 38″ vertical and ran a 5.01 40-yard dash at 300 pounds, which is really impressive. The Falcons have the option to kick him inside to guard, but I think he has a chance to stick at tackle. The Griffin, Georgia native looks to be a versatile piece the Falcons could deploy all over the line. He needs to add some functional strength to improve as a pass blocker, but he has the natural gifts to be an impact run-blocker immediately. His athletic upside makes him a really interesting project.
Photographer: Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire
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