PFF identifies upcoming free agent, 2024 NFL Draft prospect for Falcons

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The Falcons began the season 1-0 for the first time in five years with an ugly win over the Panthers.

The offseason’s acquisitions made immediate impacts. Jessie Bates III forced three turnovers as well as led the defense in tackles. David Onyemata and Kaden Elliss also had productive debuts. Bijan Robinson scored the first touchdown of the season, and Ryan Nielsen’s unit led the club to victory.

However, there’s a facet of the organization in the front office that is looking ahead to the 2024 offseason. There are scouts around the country at college games, scouts around the league for future free agents, and internal analysis of the Falcons’ own players.

It’s why publications like PFF are already looking toward the future. Pro Football Focus has begun a series of NFL team needs tracker, identifying one upcoming free agent and one 2024 draft prospect for each team. Here’s who they suggested for the Falcons:

Prospect: Georgia WR Ladd McConkey

McConkey checks our first box here, earning an 82.2 run-blocking grade in 2021 and a 73.4 run-blocking grade in 2022. McConkey has yet to play in 2023 as he deals with an injury but is expected to return at some point this season. The scrappy 6-foot, 185-pound receiver can play in the slot and out wide. He was a go-to target for quarterback Stetson Bennett in the red zone, with seven touchdowns in 2022.

Free agent: New England Patriots WR Kendrick Bourne

Bourne may not be the best blocker, particularly in the run game, but his effort in that facet can rarely be questioned — and he pushed his way onto the field in San Francisco because of it. The New England Patriots rarely play wide receivers who aren’t willing blockers, either, so it’s no coincidence that’s where he’s been thus far in his career. As a receiver, Bourne kicked off 2023 with six receptions for 64 yards and two touchdowns. He could be a solid No. 2 option in Atlanta next year.

I couldn’t disagree more. The Falcons investment in another wide receiver seems low on the list of to-do’s, in my estimation.

Firstly, the Falcons don’t use the ones they have now! What makes people think Ladd McConkey and Kendrick Bourne are the ones who are going to change that?

The fact of the matter is the Falcons need to be focused on one position — quarterback. Desmond Ridder deserves a full season worth of assessment, but I didn’t see anything from Week 1 that assures me he’ll be under center in 2024.

Again, it’s far too early to draw rational, complete conclusions, but it’s overwhelmingly apparent what Atlanta’s offseason should focus on. So, let’s assume the Falcons roll with the third-round pick in 2024, the Falcons should absolutely shift their focus to getting a premier pass rusher.

Whether that’s a free agent or draft pick, it’s the second most important position in football and the Falcons don’t have one yet.

Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire



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