The Falcons settled into the draft pick race a few weeks back. We had Atlanta picking at 8th overall heading into the Carolina Panthers game. Surprisingly, the Falcons came away with a solid win. After that win, the Falcons had both the 9th overall pick and realistic odds of making the playoffs. The playoff hopes collapsed just like the Falcons against the San Francisco 49ers. In fact, watching Atlanta trying to compete with the 49ers brought many to the realization that the Falcons were, in fact, not a playoff team.
The playoff hopes are gone, but we can turn right around and put our eyes on the NFL draft. The Falcons went from 8th overall pick two weeks ago to 9th overall pick last week to...
9th overall pick. That win over the Panthers did not appear to cost the Falcons a whole lot. Had the Falcons lost to Carolina, they would be picking 7th. Currently, the Falcons pick after the Giants select back to back at 5th and 6th, Carolina at 7th, and the Jets at 8.
It is early but we can assume teams like the Lions, Texans, Giants, and Panthers, all picking ahead of Atlanta, will consider quarterbacks. Washington, one spot behind Atlanta, should also consider addressing its quarterback position.
For the Falcons, we have to consider nearly every position a possibility. Terry Fontenot claims to follow a strict best player available approach to the draft. That means the Falcons should address major needs via free agency, giving the team as much latitude in the draft as possible. The Falcons could realistically attempt trading back to stockpile additional points. Otherwise, positions like offensive tackle, EDGE, defensive line, wide receiver, quarterback, safety, and even running back could provide Atlanta good value at 9.
It is way too early to predict what players would be available and make sense for Atlanta, but I tossed out the following as players generally available within this range.
The Falcons could be considering players like Ole Miss QB Matt Corral, Liberty QB Malik Willis, Iowa G Tyler Linderbaum, Mississippi State OT Charles Cross, Purdue EDGE George Karlaftis, Notre Dame S Kyle Hamilton, Florida State DE Jermaine Johnson, and Alabama OT Evan Neal.
Dave Choate had a few different names within this spot in the draft.
Who might the team go after if they remain in the top ten? There are some deeply intriguing pass rushers at the top of the class who could help transform this defense, including Purdue’s George Karlaftis and Georgia’s Travor Walker. There are offensive linemen who could help shore up this team’s problem areas on that front, including Mississippi State’s Charles Cross and NC State’s Ikem Ekwonu. There are gifted receivers like Ohio State’s Chris Olave, intriguing safety prospects like Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton, and yes, quarterbacks like Ole Miss product Matt Corral and Pittsburgh’s rising Kenny Pickett.
The Falcons should have a wide range of players available around 9th overall. Atlanta finishes out the year against the suddenly stout Detroit Lions, the Buffalo Bills, and the New Orleans Saints. That is a tough slate that should solidify Atlanta’s spot within the top 10.