It’s foolish to think these draft prospects aren’t in play for Falcons


The Falcons are coming into the NFL Draft with a clear need for an edge defender.

Arnold Ebiketie came on late in the season, finishing with six sacks. Development and more snaps should result in an uptick in production. Zach Harrison also came along late in the 2023 campaign, and he should be able to contribute to the Falcons pass rush.

Lorenzo Carter only totaled three sacks in a prominent role, but nobody should be expecting him to be anything more than a rotational piece. DeAngelo Malone is a wild card; he’s yet to garner any significant snaps on defense.

The state of the position group at this point in the offseason is a whole lot of hope and prayers. There’s reason to believe the Falcons edge group could surprise some people in 2024,  but hope isn’t a strategy, especially for a team with championship aspirations.

That’s why Dallas Turner and Jared Verse are the most popular prospects mocked to the Falcons. However, if there’s one thing we’ve learned about Terry Fontenot, he won’t draft a player out of need. He’s a best player available kind of guy, and I don’t see that changing this year.

That’s why it’s foolish to write off Malik Nabers and Rome Odunze. There’s a lot of debate among Falcons fans about whether Verse, Turner or even Laiatu Latu is the right prospect for the Falcons when they should be talking about whether any of them are better overall prospects than Nabers or Odunze. In my eyes, they aren’t.

Odunze put up over 1,600 yards on 92 catches en route to a Biletnikoff finalist bid. Despite Nabers and Marvin Harrison getting most of the love, Odunze is primed to be a true No. 1 wideout in the NFL for a long time. He’s a physical presence at the position; a lot of smarter people than me have compared him physically to Larry Fitzgerald, which would give the Falcons two massive wideouts with Odunze and Dake London.

Nabers, on the other hand, would be the perfect complement to London. LSU’s all-time receiving leader put up nearly 1,600 yards and 14 touchdowns on 89 catches, finishing as a runner-up to Harrison in the Biletnikoff award race.

There’s nothing he can’t do. Nabers is great before and during the catch, excelling in the air with his body control. However, he’s most special after the catch. His ability to go from 0 to 100 is reminiscent of Tyreek Hill.

The Falcons’ offense would go from arguably top 10 on paper to firmly in the top 5 with Nabers or Odunze. The edge position is a pressing need, but Terry Fontenot isn’t exactly known for filling needs through the draft. Moreover, I could argue receiver is still a need.

Drake London and Darnell Mooney are proven commodities, but there’s a lot of question marks behind them. Zac Robinson is expected to run a ton of three-receiver sets. Giving Atlanta’s offensive coordinator Nabers or Odunze would make the Grinch smile.

Photographer: John Korduner/Icon Sportswire
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