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The Chase for Young: Can the Falcons still land the draft’s premier pass rusher?

Just last week we gave you the playoff odds. Obviously, this week took a turn for the worse.

NCAA Football: Penn State at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Chase Young returned to the football field after a brief suspension for the dumbest thing possible, and he manhandled nearly every member of the Penn State offense. It was an absolutely elite display against a top 10 ranked team. The game was hours over and I kept saying to myself, “Man, Chase Young is like... really good.” Young put up nine tackles, with four for loss, three sacks and two forced fumbles, breaking Vernon Gholston’s single-season sack record for Ohio University players.

Of course, Young was never going to make it to the Falcons way back on Saturday afternoon. Things changed dramatically on Sunday afternoon when it became clear the Falcons had not, in fact, turned things around. The defense had not turned into one of the best in the league. Future wins went from likely to likely not gonna happen.

Fans again saw the ugly Falcons. Like a Jerry Bruckheimer movie, there was lots going on, tons of money invested, flashy moves, and I hated having to watch every empty, awful second of it. (This example does not include Bumblebee, which was surprisingly good.)

The Falcons still have the Saints, Panthers, 49ers, Jaguars, and Buccaneers on deck. I can not possible guess how many of those games you could even consider a win. The team we saw today, and most of this season, could easily go 0-5. The seemingly competent team could add a few wins. However, I am more interested in where the Falcons are right now.

Here is the updated draft order after Week 12:

  1. Bengals (0-11)
  2. Giants (2-9)
  3. Dolphins (2-9)
  4. Washington (2-9)
  5. Broncos (3-8)
  6. Falcons (3-8)

The Falcons are sort of in luck because many of these top teams need quarterbacks. Whether or not Joe Burrow (LSU), Justin Herbert (Oregon), Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama), Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma), or others solidify themselves as top quarterbacks, we know that Cincinnati and Miami will be selecting a quarterback.

That leaves the New York, Washington, and Denver in the way. Helping the situation: The Giants play both Miami and Washington, which will guarantee a few more wins pushing through the top 6. The Bengals play the Dolphins, the Jets, and then the Browns twice. The Broncos play the Chargers and Raiders, but otherwise look to be a pretty awful team. There is a lot of flux remaining.

There are also questions if Washington will be forced to take a top tackle, like Georgia’s Andrew Thomas or Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs, to replace Trent Williams. That team is pretty set at pass rusher but needs to help out Dwayne Haskins.

The Falcons do have some trade options if they want to deal up for Young. Thomas Dimitroff’s replacement has the 2nd round pick from the New England Patriots for Mohamed Sanu handy. If Atlanta gets close, and a team like the Broncos without the need for a pass rusher or a quarterback gets in the spot for Young, Atlanta has one last chance to secure the draft’s top player.

What does it all mean? The Falcons are not out of the Chase for Young quite yet. Things need to break their way to get Young. They certainly are not the favorite to land Young, but are not far from there.