NFL Draft prospects who would immediately improve Falcons pass rush

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The Falcons have had one of the worst pass rushes in the league for quite a long time. Hopefully, Ryan Nielsen, the team’s new defensive coordinator, can resuscitate a lifeless defense.

The club has the second-most cap space in the league this offseason and an arsenal of draft picks to bolster the roster. In my opinion, an influx of talent is necessary more so than schematics, but Nielsen’s expertise lies in the trenches, so that should be noted.

The first-time defensive coordinator spent every season working with the Saints’ defensive line since 2017. Over that period, New Orleans recorded 281 sacks, which is the second most in the NFL, finishing in the top 10 in sacks in five of the last six seasons.

The Falcons could address the pass rush in any number of ways. Free agency is always an option, but to have sustainable success, the draft is the best place to start. Here are some prospects that would immediately improve Atlanta’s pass rush.

I left out Lukas Van Ness, Keion White, Myles Murphy, Nolan Smith, Brian Branch, and other prospects because I don’t believe they’re top 10 talents, unlike the players below.

Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia

The first two on the list won’t be available unless the Falcons move up the draft. Carter has the versatility to play in multiple fronts and alignments with the explosive first step and leverage to affect the run and pass. He’s a can’t-miss prospect that would immediately make the Falcosn interior one of the best in the league. Overall, Carter is a real difference maker.

Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama

Anderson is in the same category as Carter. He can affect the game as a pass rusher and when defending the run. His combination of speed, power and instincts should make him an instant impact player. Anderson could easily put up double digit sacks as a rookie — something the Falcons haven’t had since 2016.

Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois

There’s more than one way to skin a cat. Ever heard of a coverage sack? First and foremost, Witherspoon is a menace of a tackler. There are countless highlights of him blowing ball carriers up. In coverage, he’s a lean, rangy cornerback with outstanding quickness, instincts and ball skills. The Falcons need to add to the cornerback position, and Witherspoon is an excellent choice.

Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech

Back to the trenches! Tyree Wilson is in line to be the second edge defender off of the board. I haven’t watched Wilson as much as the others, but from what I have watched: he’s a physical specimen. Every prospect could use refining in their technique, but Wilson has all of the tools to develop into a Pro Bowl edge rusher.

Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State

To the secondary, we go! Porter has the genes of an NFL star. He has elite size, length and speed for the position. Overall, Porter should be a Day 1 starter and would create a lethal combination on the backend for the Falcons.

Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

Gonzalez is one of my favorites. He looked smooth as butter at the NFL combine, easily flipping his hips in transition. He is a very willing and physical tackler against the run. Much like Porter and Witherspoon, Gonzalez is an immediate starter. 

Who would you want the Falcons to draft?

Photographer: Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire

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