The Matt Ryan era is officially over in Atlanta, and the Falcons are looking for answers. While Marcus Mariota isn’t the long-term solution at quarterback, there may not be one in this draft either. If you want my opinion, the Falcons should continue taking this roster down to the studs and look to the 2023 draft for their quarterback of the future. Continuing to build this roster by taking the best player available is the right strategy. The Falcons will have a lot of money to spend in free agency next offseason. If you want to check out previous editions of this series, they’re linked below:
Jake’s Falcons Offseason Mock Draft 1.0 (7 Rounds)
Jake’s Falcons Offseason Mock Draft 2.0: Post Senior Bowl (7 Rounds)
Jake’s Falcons Offseason Mock Draft 3.0: Post Combine (7 Rounds)
1) Atlanta Falcons Trade: IDL Grady Jarrett
Los Angeles Chargers Trade: Pick 17, Future Draft Picks
2) Atlanta Falcons Trade: LB Deion Jones
New York Jets Trade: Pick 146
Round 1, Pick 8: S Kyle Hamilton — Notre Dame
If I were ranking players overall in this draft, Kyle Hamilton would take the top spot. Hamilton can truly do it all — he has impeccable instincts and ball skills, and he can blitz and support against the run better than many linebackers in this class can. Not only is he one of the safest picks in this draft, but he’s absolutely one of the most talented. The Atlanta native is the best player on the board — this is your Kyle Pitts of the 2022 Draft. Slam dunk.
Round 1, Pick 17 (From Los Angeles): LB Nakobe Dean — Georgia
If you’re ranking players in this class and not considering positional value, Nakobe Dean may be in my top three overall. Dean is one of the smartest players in college football, and his ability to diagnose pre-snap was a huge part of what made Kirby Smart’s defense tick. There are very few holes in Dean’s game — he can cover in space, defend against the run, and work sideline to sideline against screens and jet sweeps. The mechanical engineering major should have no issues adjusting to an NFL playbook and will be a quality starter in the NFL for a long time.
Round 2, Pick 43: WR Christian Watson — North Dakota State
I was very high on Christian Watson going into the combine — I had him listed as the second-best receiver in a very talented and deep class. Watson is an incredible athlete at 6’5 — displayed by his 4.38 40-yard dash time and 38.5″ vertical. He is a big-bodied receiver that can win 50/50 balls and has a huge catch radius. Throw in his athletic measurables, and you have a monster in the making at a prominent position of need for the Falcons.
Round 2, Pick 58 (From Tennessee): IDL DeMarvin Leal — Texas A&M
There are some concerns about Leal. Some scouts see him as a tweener, but I still like the upside of the former top prospect. Leal has nice bend for a guy his size, and I don’t see very many issues with his arm length in an odd front or hybrid defense. He may fall in the draft due to something like arm length, but whatever team scoops him up will be getting an impact player. At 58, he’s a steal at a position of need with Grady Jarrett in Los Angeles.
Round 3, Pick 74: EDGE Kingsley Enagbare — South Carolina
If Enagbare goes in the second round, he’s going to provide great value for whatever team picks him up. He still needs to clean up his technique, but he’s a long pass rusher with excellent athleticism off the edge. If an NFL team can harness his raw potential, he’s going to make for an excellent pro. With pretty much only Lorenzo Carter and Ade Ogundeji coming off the edge, the Falcons pick up a nice project to develop in what is probably a lost year.
Round 3, Pick 82 (From Indianapolis): WR Wan’Dale Robinson — Kentucky
Many respected draft pundits in Falcons Twitter are big fans of Wan’Dale Robinson, and I’m starting to see the light. Robinson is a smaller receiver, but he is a dynamic playmaker with the ball in his hands — precisely what the Falcons need. He reminds me a lot of Rondale Moore, Dionte Johnson, and Deebo Samuel. Arthur Smith could use Robinson in a lot of the same ways he uses Cordarelle Patterson. Get the ball in his hands and watch out.
Round 4, Pick 114: OT Rasheed Walker — Penn State
I think the Falcons should focus their efforts on the offensive line in 2023 free agency when they have some money to spend, but I don’t see the harm in grooming a swing tackle behind Kaleb McGary, who will likely leave in free agency after 2022. Right now, I think Walker profiles as more of a swing tackle that could develop into a starter. His tape is a bit inconsistent; he shows that he’s very technically sound with good strength and athleticism, but his run blocking isn’t where I would like it to be. Still, he shows excellent traits as a pass blocker and could absolutely develop into a serviceable starter one day, especially with as much experience as he had at Penn State.
Round 5, Pick 146 (From New York): LB Brandon Smith — Penn State
I couldn’t pass on Brandon Smith at this junction — he posted freakish numbers at the combine and has the potential to develop into a jack-of-all-trades defensive chess piece. Smith is going to have to develop, but hopefully, he can learn alongside fellow rookie Nakobe Dean. You can teach him an NFL playbook — you can’t teach 4.52 speed at 6’3 and 250 pounds. This is a long game pick for Atlanta.
Round 5, Pick 151: CB Coby Bryant — Cincinnati
Bryant played opposite Sauce Gardner for the Bearcats, but he isn’t quite the sought-after prospect his teammate is. Bryant possesses good movement skills for his size; he’s able to sink his hips fluidly and follows receivers tightly when they break. His ball skills and competitive mentality pair nicely; he possesses the same drive and work ethic as his namesake, the late Kobe Bryant. Coby knows how to play aggressively but has a short memory following a mistake. He’s a nice project corner to learn behind Casey Hayward and A.J. Terrell.
Round 6, Pick 190: WR Justyn Ross — Clemson
Justyn Ross had some injury issues at Clemson, but now is the perfect time to take a big swing on a very talented player. Whenever Ross is on the field, he’s a dynamic receiver with a big catch radius. The Falcons need playmakers at receiver. Putting Ross alongside Watson on the outside with Robinson on the inside gives the Falcons a nice set of weapons for their next franchise quarterback.
Round 6, Pick 213: P Matt Arazia — San Diego State
We’re really going to find out how much teams value punters in this draft because Matt Arazia looks generational. Some of you will be confused that I drafted a punter, but if you know who Matt Araiza is, it will all make sense. Araiza set an FBS record with 51.19 yards per punt in 2021. He broke the NCAA record for punts of 50 yards or more with 39 and the record for punts of 60 yards or more by doing it 18 times. He also had two punts of 80 yards plus in 2021, including an 86-yarder. Why not take a special teams weapon like that in the sixth round? Someone is going to, and they may do it well before then.
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