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Falcons are projected to pick 10th overall in the 2021 NFL Draft after Week 12

Following a dominant victory over the Las Vegas Raiders, the Falcons (4-7) are now projected to pick 10th in the 2021 NFL Draft after the conclusion of Week 12’s games. Here’s where Atlanta stands in the draft order and some top prospects to consider.

Las Vegas Raiders v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Falcons are a hot-and-cold team in the NFL this season, and nothing demonstrates that better than the past two weeks. In Week 11, Atlanta came out completely flat against their biggest divisional rival in the Saints, losing to backup QB Taysom Hill on the back of a putrid day from the offense. Then in Week 12, the Falcons thoroughly dominated a Raiders team that had twice given the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs all they could handle.

I don’t claim to understand these things, but I do enjoy a good win to help offset a brutal loss. Luckily, the Falcons will get a chance for revenge against the Saints on Sunday and will hopefully play a little better. Before we get to that, however, let’s check in on where Atlanta stands in the draft order for the 2021 NFL Draft after improving to 4-7 in Week 12.

Below you’ll find the projected top-15 of the 2021 NFL Draft. Remember that draft order is determined by overall record, with ties broken by Strength of Schedule (SOS). The team with the lower SOS receives the better pick. SOS ties are broken by a coin flip before the draft, though we won’t need to worry about those until the end of the season.

Projected 2021 NFL Draft Order (Week 12)

Team (Record) [Strength of Schedule] | Projections from Tankathon

  1. New York Jets (0-11) [.591]
  2. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-10) [.555]
  3. Cincinnati Bengals (2-8-1) [.538]
  4. Dallas Cowboys (3-8) [.486]
  5. Los Angeles Chargers (3-8) [.492]
  6. Philadelphia Eagles (3-7-1) [.526]
  7. Carolina Panthers (4-8) [.534]
  8. Washington Football Team (4-7) [.466]
  9. Detroit Lions (4-7) [.506]
  10. Atlanta Falcons (4-7) [.533]
  11. Miami Dolphins (from HOU) (4-7) [.549]
  12. Denver Broncos (4-7) [.565]
  13. Chicago Bears (5-6) [.500]
  14. Minnesota Vikings (5-6) [.509]
  15. New England Patriots (5-6) [.503]

Despite a lot of movement from teams around the Falcons—and adding another W—Atlanta managed to fall just one spot in the projected 2021 NFL Draft order to 10th. With several of their past and future opponents losing this week, Atlanta’s SOS also dropped a bit to .533—which has placed them closer to the center of the pack in terms of tiebreakers. Most notably, the Philadelphia Eagles switched places with the New York Giants, with Philly climbing all the way to 6th and New York dropping to 19th.

Considering the Falcons remaining schedule—which is NO (9-2), @LAC (3-8), TB (7-5), @KC (10-1), @TB (7-5)—I still expect the team to finish right around 6-10. The only remaining game on the schedule where Atlanta will be favored is against the Chargers, and I’d expect the team to steal at least one game from either the Bucs or Saints of the remaining 5. If that were to hold, the Falcons would probably end up...right around where they are now.

Potential draft prospects

(Prospect Rankings from The Draft Network)

5. WR Ja’Marr Chase (LSU)
6. EDGE Gregory Rousseau (Miami)
7. CB Patrick Surtain II (Alabama)
8. CB Caleb Farley (Virginia Tech)
9. TE Kyle Pitts (Florida)
10. WR Jaylen Waddle (Alabama)
11. WR DeVonta Smith (Alabama)
12. EDGE Kwity Paye (Michigan)
13. QB Zach Wilson (BYU)
14. QB Trey Lance (NDSU)
16. CB Jaycee Horn (South Carolina)
17. RB Travis Etienne (Clemson)
18. LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (Notre Dame)
20. EDGE Joseph Ossai (Texas)

Not much changes for the Falcons with the slight shift from 9 to 10 in terms of which prospects they will be targeting. 10th overall is still a good place to be for Atlanta, as they should have their choice of some of the top prospects at both CB and EDGE on defense. Those are their two biggest needs, to be sure, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see the team consider drafting a QB if one of Justin Fields, Trey Lance, or Zach Wilson falls to 10.

The door should also be open for a trade-down in that scenario, as teams like Denver (12th), Chicago (13th), and New England (15th) could all be angling to jump up to get the last of the 1st round QB prospects. The Falcons might also want to consider drafting a WR if the top QB/EDGE/CB prospects are gone. Julio Jones is still great when healthy, but it would be wise to start planning for the future—and for times when he’s sidelined.

Based on the way mock drafts are falling, the Falcons could have their choice of all the top options: LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase, or one of Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle or DeVonta Smith. Adding one of those players to the WR corps would give Atlanta the NFL’s best WR trio when Julio is healthy, and a dominant 1-2 pairing for the future.