We don't know the specific draft pick, but the NFL appears to be close to announcing the Falcons' punishment, and at least one aspect of that punishment is a surprise.
NFL expected to suspend Falcons president Rich McKay from comp committee and take draft pick from ATL for piping in crowd noise, per sources— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 30, 2015
There also could be hefty fines handed down against ATL and CLEV for its roles in unapproved NFL activities. Announcement coming by Tuesday.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 30, 2015
The #Falcons expect to lose a draft pick from "NoiseGate" but expect it to be in 2016 draft, not this year's. That's significant.— Jeff Schultz (@JeffSchultzAJC) March 30, 2015
McKay's suspension will likely be for a year, if I had to guess. That doesn't necessarily mean he was involved in directing gameday staff to pipe in the noise—we may never know if he was or not—but it does mean the NFL is intent on punishing the Falcons by proxy. Taking an influential voice off the competition committee accomplishes that, and if McKay was directly involved, it's more of a slap to the face than a slap on the wrist for him.
McKay's suspension plus the "hefty" fine likely means the Falcons will be seeing a lesser draft pick taken away, with my best guess being a fourth round pick. Schultz's tweet is significant, indicating that the Falcons will keep their full complement of draft picks in a crucial rebuilding year, and a 2016 pick would certainly sting less if the Falcons managed to finish .500 or better.
Anything higher than that takes a strong, kind of unreasonable punishment and makes it really unreasonable, which means there's a decent chance the NFL does that. The league is going to hard that the Falcons and Browns gained competitive advantages through Decibacle and Textscandal, but given their miserable showings the last two years, I'm not sure they have much of a leg to stand on. That won't slow their roll, obviously, but it's frustrating.
Any way you slice it, this is a pretty weighty punishment, one obviously designed to deter NFL teams from piping in crowd noise. There have been plenty of teams accused of doing this in the past, but the league has decided to make a scapegoat of the Falcons, as they made a scapegoat of the Patriots and Saints in the past for different infractions.
All things considered, a mid-to-low round pick is about the best case scenario for us as fans, and McKay's suspension and the fine don't really move the needle for those of us outside Flowery Branch. It'll be fascinating to see how Arthur Blank takes these sanctions considering he tried the preemptive apology tack, but we'll know a lot more tomorrow.