Why the 2022 NFL draft could be instrumental in replenishing many of Falcons needs

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The Falcons are seemingly committed to Matt Ryan in 2022, although it remains to be seen whether or not that commitment extends past next season. With so many needs across the roster, and the salary cap limitations Terry Fontenot is working with, the Falcons will be fighting an uphill battle to get to the postseason this year.

The only possible way I see Atlanta competing for a playoff spot in 2022 is if the front office hits on multiple low-cost free agents—as they did with Cordarrelle Patterson—and if the rookies in the 2022 draft class have exponentially more impact than the ones in Fontenot’s first draft as general manager. He’s been adamant about taking the best player available in drafts, since reaching for players that might fit your needs is how other front offices make mistakes. The Falcons, like many franchises, draft the best player available, then fill out the rest of the roster through free agency.

However, this upcoming class is loaded in the positions the Falcons need so desperately. I don’t expect Fontenot to stray from his strategy heading into the draft, but there will be excellent chances for the Falcons to address several positions of need.

Dane Brugler, a highly respected draft pundit for The Athletic, just released his updated top 100 prospects list (subscription required), many of whom will interest the Falcons. What’s more enticing, however, is the positions of these prospects. Below is a breakdown of the top 100 by position:

  • 17 EDGE
  • 14 WR
  • 11 CB
  • 10 LB
  • 10 OT
  • 9 IOL (centers and guards)
  • 7 SAF
  • 7 DT
  • 6 QB
  • 5 RB
  • 4 TE

The Falcons are desperate for five of the top six positions on Brugler’s draft board. There are high-end, instant-impact starters on this list, but there are also lower-end, rotational prospects the Falcons could use to bolster the depth chart. Here are the edge defenders, wide receivers, cornerbacks, tackles, and interior offensive linemen on Brugler’s list and their rankings.


EDGEs

1. Aidan Hutchinson
4. Kayvon Thibodeaux
6. Travon Walker
14. David Ojabo
15. Jermaine Johnson
21. George Karlaftis
33. Logan Hall
34. Arnold Ebiketie
38. Kingsley Enagbare
54. Drake Jackson
58. Myjai Sanders
66. Alex Wright
75. Boye Mafe
82. Dominique Robinson
84. DeAngelo Malone
88. Cameron Thomas
92. Jesse Luketa

Wide Receivers

11. Garrett Wilson
13. Treylon Burks
16. Drake London
22. Jameson Williams
25. Chris Olave
30. Jahan Dotson
47. Jalen Tolbert
50. John Metchie III
67. George Pickens
69. David Bell
77. Wan’Dale Robinson
79. Skyy Moore
90. Justyn Ross
96. Christian Watson

Cornerbacks

9. Derek Stingley Jr.
10. Ahmad Gardner
12. Trent McDuffie
18. Andrew Booth Jr.
39. Kaiir Elam
43. Roger McCreary
68. Kyler Gordon
72. Marcus Jones
73. Tariq Woolen
87. Martin Emerson
4. Coby Bryant

Offensive Tackle

2. Ikem Ekwonu
3. Evan Neal
8. Charles Cross
19. Trevor Penning
29. Bernhard Raimann
52. Daniel Faalele
64. Max Mitchell
83. Abraham Lucas
85. Tyler Smith
89. Nicholas Petit-Frere

Interior Offensive Linemen

17. Tyler Linderbaum
24. Kenyon Green
26. Zion Johnson
42. Darian Kinnard
49. Jamaree Salyer
70. Dylan Parham
80. Ed Ingram
81. Marquis Hayes
97. Lecitus Smith

The Falcons have four picks in the top 100—0, 46, 61, and 77—and five in the top 115, which means they should be able to come away with a few of the guys on this list. Terry Fontenot won’t reach on a particular prospect just because they satisfy a need; however, it’s highly unlikely that the Falcons come away with none of these positions from the first hundred picks.

 

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