Latest ESPN mock draft has Falcons primed for the future

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The Falcons front office has done well in rounding out the roster. There aren’t glaring holes, but there are still a few position groups that could use addressing. Terry Fontenot’s approach to free agency is to get the roster in a position to draft the best players available, and that’s just what he’s done. It’s in a place where any position is a possibility come next month’s draft, and Jordan Reid of ESPN has the club landing some impact defenders in the first couple of rounds. 

Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

Since general manager Terry Fontenot and coach Arthur Smith took over in 2021, they have placed value on taking the best player available in Round 1. With Gonzalez still on the board here, he’s a no-brainer selection. Casey Hayward is coming off torn pectoral surgery and will turn 34 at the start of the season. The Falcons are in dire need of help on the defensive line and in the secondary opposite A.J. Terrell. Pairing Gonzalez with Terrell and newly signed safety Jessie Bates would give Atlanta one of the best young secondaries in the league.

I love the idea of pairing A.J. Terrell with Christian Gonzalez. It gives the Falcons one of the best young tandems in football and provides the defense with a real identity moving forward. Atlanta would immediately see the impact of a defender like Gonzalez too, and the same goes for their second-round selection in Reid’s mock draft.

BJ Ojulari, Edge, LSU

After finishing with the second-fewest sacks last season (21), the Falcons must add a pass-rusher early in the draft. Ojulari would give them a dynamic edge rusher who understands how to wreak havoc on opposing passers. He had 12.5 sacks over the past two seasons.

As a resident LSU Tiger, I love the selection for more than one reason. Of course, it’s great to have some Purple and Gold in Flowery Branch, but Ojulari is an extremely effective pass rusher with well above average hand usage and an arsenal of pass rush moves. He’s not a three-down defender yet but could easily become that and provide a lot in obvious passing downs. The rest of the draft addresses depth and positions with future uncertainty.

Tyler Scott, WR, Cincinnati

Atlanta doesn’t have a receiver like 5-10 Scott. He has plenty of speed — he ran a 4.44-second 40-yard dash at the combine — and his ability to stress the defense’s third level could help unlock the Falcons’ passing game. He averaged 16.6 yards per catch last season

110. Atlanta Falcons (from TEN): Anthony Bradford, IOL, LSU

113. Atlanta Falcons: Michael Wilson, WR, Stanford

159. Atlanta Falcons (from JAX): Carter Warren, OT, Pittsburgh

224. Atlanta Falcons (from LV): Tyler Lacy, Edge, Oklahoma State

225. Atlanta Falcons: Keaton Mitchell, RB, East Carolina

Scott and Mitchell are the two that catch my eye. Despite signing Scotty Miller to be the vertical threat in 2023, Tyler Scott can be that player in the future. He’s electric and would be the long-term answer to the Falcons’ deep threat need. Keaton Mitchell at pick #225 is criminal because he will be a hell of a professional. Moreover, he’s an ideal complement to what the Falcons already possess in the backfield.

Tyler Allgeier runs like he’s angry at the world and typically falls forward — thunder. Mitchell would be the lightning. He is a home run waiting to happen, displaying patience and vision to burst through holes on his way to chunk plays. He can provide value as a receiver and on special teams too.

This is one of the better Falcons mock drafts I have seen.

Photographer: John Korduner/Icon Sportswire
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