The NFL Draft is about three months away, and the mocks are ripping! The Falcons have landed defenders in most mainstream mock drafts — Myles Murphy and Lukas Van Ness, among others. Some also have Atlanta targeting one of the talented cornerbacks, which is where Damian Parson of The Draft Network has the team going in his latest 2-round mock.
8. Atlanta Falcons
Christian Gonzalez CB, Oregon
The Falcons have a few needs to address on the defensive side of the ball. Luckily their needs are strengths of the draft class. A.J. Terrell is one of the best young cover corners in football. Atlanta needs to find a CB2 to put across from him. Christian Gonzalez is the best pure cover corner in this class as a top-tier athlete with fluid movement skills and ball production to match. Gonzalez and Terrell have lock-down potential.
I can’t say I’ve watched much of Gonzalez, but if he’s the highest-rated prospect left on the board when the Falcons are on the clock, I can get behind the selection. AJ Terrell has established himself in the upper echelon of corners, but it’s grim outside of him. Casey Hayward is a grizzled veteran that dealt with injuries in 2022, but he’s only under contract for one more season, if he isn’t cut to save money.
In today’s NFL, teams need at least three good cornerbacks and four just to be safe. The Falcons cannot rely on a Cornell Armstrong, or players of his caliber, moving forward. That’s no shade to Armstrong, but he’s better suited as a depth piece. At some point, Atlanta will have to address the cornerback room; they might as well do it with their top 10 draft pick, which has become increasingly popular in Falcons mock drafts.
With the franchise’s second-round pick, Parson has the Falcons selecting another skill position — North Carolina receiver Josh Downs.
45. Atlanta Falcons
Josh Downs WR, North Carolina
I watched North Carolina’s game against Virginia live and remembered thinking, “who is this guy?” Downs posted 166 yards and a touchdown on 15 receptions while adding 57 yards on two punt returns. He is eye-popping fast, reminiscent of Tyreek Hill, where he doesn’t sacrifice much speed in and out of breaks. The highlight below has been shared all over social media:
They say you aren't supposed to post Porn on Twitter but Josh Downs made me do it. pic.twitter.com/nEjzEpWUAa
— Marcus Whitman (@TFG_Football) January 26, 2023
The Falcons might have more pressing roster needs than receiver; after all, the team made Drake London the highest-drafted wideout in the 2021 draft class. Still, that’s not how Terry Fontenot and his staff approach the draft. They operate on a best-player-available basis, regardless of the position. And at No. 45, it could very well be Josh Downs.
Moreover, the easiest way to get an accurate assessment of Desmond Ridder is to give him everything he needs to succeed. Downs would be yet another weapon for Arthur Smtih to deploy. I would get used to seeing these types of prospects in Falcons mock drafts.