PFF: Mistake Falcons should avoid in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft

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The Falcons once again have a top 10 draft pick, and for the second cycle in a row, it’ll be the No. 8 selection. Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith could go in several different directions. The team has more roster needs than there are even potential solutions this offseason, but the club has ample resources to make significant additions.

The Falcons have the league’s second-most salary cap space to go with an arsenal of draft capital. Fontenot’s front office has used free agency to fill needs while drafting with a best player available philosophy. It’s a smart strategy. BPA will allow the Falcons to remain flexible instead of forcing a selection because of a need. So, it’s no surprise what PFF’s mistake the Falcons should avoid is:


The Falcons have a handful of needs on the defensive side of the ball. After recording just 21 total sacks as a team in 2022, their most glaring one feels like the defensive line. Luckily for them, they have a top-10 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. But unluckily for them, the edge rushers and interior defensive linemen who are projected to be available at their pick feel risky.

In some years the No. 8 pick can yield a great defensive line prospect. That’s not to say that couldn’t happen this year, but it’s not as confident of a bet as it has been in the past, specifically after Jalen Carter and Will Anderson Jr. are off the board. The advice here is to not force it. Investments in the trenches are good bets to place, as they involve some premium positions like offensive tackles and pass rushers. But where bets in the trenches are fine, forced picks in the trenches — or forced picks at any position — can get you in trouble.

The free agency pass-rush class is decently strong this year. It feels the better value for defensive improvement for the Falcons is to shore up the defensive line in free agency, allowing them to take the right player at No. 8.

I couldn’t agree more. I have said on numerous occasions Falcons fans prioritizing position are foolish. With a need for a successor to Matt Ryan, the Falcons made Kyle Pitts the highest-drafted tight end in history. But it wasn’t that surprising. He was easily the highest-rated player left on the board. Then, with more defensive holes than I care to count, Atlanta made Drake London the highest-drafted receiver of the 2022 cycle.

If this regime has shown us anything, BPA will be the strategy, regardless of the situation. And mock drafters still haven’t learned their lesson. All I have seen is Myles Murphy, Lukas Van Ness, Bryan Bresee, or Tyree Wilson going in the first round to the Falcons. It’s not to say those prospects aren’t worth the No. 8 overall pick, but they won’t be coming to Atlanta unless they’re the top player on the team’s big board. It’s that simple, and analysts continue to project Atlanta to take prospects based on needs rather than overall assessment.

Photographer: Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire

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