Falcons overhaul defense in latest 3 round mock draft

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The Falcons need to nail their upcoming draft. In less than two weeks, Atlanta will be on the clock to make their third consecutive selection at the No. 8 pick.

Terry Fontenot will have his pick of the top defender, potentially Rome Odunze or Malik Nabers, or even trade back to accumulate more draft picks if he feels the value isn’t best at No. 8.

The possibilities really are endless for the Falcons, but regardless of Fontenot’s approach, which has been taking the best player available, the club’s defense is still a clear weakness.

Jimmy Lake’s unit could use a clear starter opposite of A.J. Terrell and Arnold Ebiketie, a pass rusher, and even another safety, but maybe the draft fills those voids. That’s what ESPN’s Mel Kiper and Field Yates have the team doing in their latest mock draft, overhauling the defense.

8. Atlanta Falcons

Yates’ pick: Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama

It’s no surprise Atlanta will attack the edge position in the draft, and Turner is a sudden, bendy rusher who had a terrific finish to his college career by winning SEC defensive player of the year in 2023.

This is beginning to get stale; I get it, but this mock draft is more about the picks after Dallas Turner, who has become the overwhelming favorite to be the No. 8 pick in the draft. For the Falcons, they could finally get the premier pass rusher they’ve been searching for.

43. Atlanta Falcons

Kiper’s pick: Malachi Corley, WR, Western Kentucky

The Falcons need to use one of their three Day 2 picks on a wideout, preferably one with the flexibility to play in the slot. Corley had 29 touchdown catches over the past three seasons.

At some point, the Falcons have to add another receiver. In the second round with Malachi Corley is certainly a choice, not one I would do, though. Ja’Lynn Polk, Ricky Pearsall, and Marshawn Kneeland would be better choices and would fill still needs. If the Falcons went with Kneeland, it may be seen as overkill while taking Turner in the first round, but I’ve watched enough Falcons games to know “too many pass rushers” will never be true in Atlanta.

74. Atlanta Falcons

Yates’ pick: Cam Hart, CB, Notre Dame

Atlanta figures to be in the corner market, and Hart’s combination of 6-foot-3 size and 4.5-second 40 speed makes him a starting perimeter corner option in the NFL.

79. Atlanta Falcons (via JAX)

Kiper’s pick: Ruke Orhorhoro, DT, Clemson

The 294-pound Orhorhoro has the positional flexibility to play anywhere along the defensive line. After Field gave the Falcons edge rusher Dallas Turner in Round 1, we can get them help along the interior on Day 2. They had the league’s worst pass rush in 2023.

With their two third-round picks, the Falcons bolster the first and third levels of the defense. Cam Hart has the size and speed to be the guy opposite of Terrell, but relying on a third-round pick to do so seems risky. Whereas Orhorhoro would be taking on a rotational/depth role, which is much more appropriate for a player drafted in this round.

Still, starters and even stars have come out of this area of the draft. However, it seems a bit presumptuous to just assume the Falcons will be able to fill premium positions in the third round or later. The best example of such under Terry Fontenot has been Drew Dalman, but that’s not the standard.

Photographer: Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire


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