While we may be eyeing a possible (yet unlikely) playoff berth if the Falcons can make a few things work, we also have one eye on the draft. This is a bit of a change considering the Falcons have been vying for a top-5 pick in October for the last few seasons. Even with playoffs potentially in the realm of possibility, the draft is going to bring big changes for the Falcons.
ESPN’s Todd McShay has been one of the top college and draft analysts for years. When McShay predicts... we listen.
More important here is that Terry Fontenot has been a big fan of drafting the best player available. In prior years, you could predict Thomas Dimitroff selecting a corner or defensive end. Sometimes things were unpredictable but you typically knew Dimitroff wanted to fill the team’s biggest needs with that first pick. For Fontenot, it could be anyone.
What’s McShay feeling? The draft’s top wide receiver. He has Atlanta grabbing 6-foot-2, 190-pound Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams who is coming off of a 1,445, 15 touchdown season.
It’s a tough call, but I see them riding Matt Ryan — who has played well — another year, adopting a “best available” strategy here for a roster full of holes and then addressing QB in a better-stocked 2023 class. And best available right now might just be Williams, who has tons of speed, elusiveness as a ball carrier and sure hands. His 1,445 receiving yards, 15 TD catches and 21.3 yards per catch all rank in the FBS’ top five.
Ryan and Arthur Smith still desperately need another weapon on this offense. Defenses have doubled (and tripled) Kyle Pitts, forcing Atlanta to score points through Cordarrelle Patterson. He has scored a lot. However, a good offense needs a bit more to keep defenses honest. Calvin Ridley will technically be in his fifth year, however, his future with the team or the NFL are unknown at this time.
Williams is seen as an elite deep threat that can pop the top off of defenses. However, how that skill set fits with an aging Ryan remain to be seen. With potential 4.3 speed, the team can find a way to force defenses to adjust deep and open more plays underneath.
McShay has the Falcons passing on players like Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton, Michigan DE David Ojabo, Texas A&M DL DeMarvin Leal, Pittsburgh QB Kenny Pickett, and Ole Miss QB Matt Corral. It would be surprising to see the Falcons go for another dynamic pass catcher with its first pick in back-to-back years over a quarterback of the future or a major upgrade to the defense. The positive with this roster is nearly every position will be that major upgrade.