UPDATE: Sporting News might have been off on strength of schedule, as Tankathon indicates the Falcons would actually pick 8th despite being tied record-wise with the Jaguars. Update your mocks accordingly.
The Falcons can’t do much of anything this point without major April implications. Wins and losses don’t move the needle on playoffs—they’re out—and they don’t do much for Dan Quinn’s future, which is likely already settled. In the midst of a fun victory on Sunday, though, I did briefly wonder where Atlanta would be in the draft after beating the pulp out of Carolina.
The answer? The Falcons are now at #7, having dropped a couple of spots from where they were a week ago. You can thank the Lions and Cardinals for that, as the two teams (who tied back in September) dropped to #5 and #6 respectively with losses over the weekend. Their 3-9-1 records put them a half game “ahead” of Atlanta in the race for Chase, the drown for Brown, and so on.
Let’s be honest, too: There aren’t that many teams that figure to be in on quarterbacks in the top six right now, though they could of course elect to move down with QB-needy teams. Only the Bengals (#1) and Dolphins (#4 despite intentionally setting up their roster to lose a ton of games) need new franchise signal callers, while the Giants (#2), Washington (#3), Lions (#5), and Cardinals (#6) all either spent a first round pick on a QB this past season or have a franchsie guy under contract. They’re not all going to draft top defenders, sure, but don’t get your heart set on a particular player if the Falcons keep finding ways to win.
It’s also worth remembering that you can get excellent players after the top five in a given class, if you’re willing to look for them. Brian Burns (5.5 sacks as a rookie) fell to Carolina at #16 a year ago, Montez Sweat (5.0 sacks) went all the way back at #26, Harold Landry (13.5 sacks in two years) went at #41, and frustratingly T.J. Watt (32.5 sacks in three years) went all the way back at #30. If the Falcons want to improve their defensive line and in particular their pass rush, it’s not Chase Young or Derrick Brown or bust. They just have to do a better job of finding the right players, and having a first round pick in the top half and two second rounders should give them ample opportunity to add upgrades on defense and along the offensive line, if they’re inclined to.
That said, do I want one of those guys, and do I hope Atlanta can play watchable football while getting in position to snag one? Yes. They should be in a different spot a week from now with an extremely difficult matchup against the 49ers on deck and the injuries piling up for the Falcons.