The Falcons may statistically still be in the playoff race, but we know that math is not adding up. The perma-struggling team will wrap up its season after five more weeks, then we revert to our offseason optimism just like flipping a light switch.
To help us ease into the offseason, it is about time to pull the tarp off of the draft slot series. The good part of losing a lot is the Falcons get an opportunity to draft really good players early on. However, that is not guaranteed, as evidenced by the Falcons player headlining this article.
Entering Week 14, the Falcons currently have the 8th overall slot in the 2022 NFL Draft. Atlanta is sitting at 5-7, but thanks to its mediocre strength of schedule, edges out the remaining 5-7 teams for the top slot among those with only 5 wins. Of course, the Falcons play the New Orleans Saints (5-7), the Carolina Panthers (5-7), and the Detroit Lions (1-10-1) this season, meaning Atlanta has some opportunities to break some ties and move up or down the draft slots.
The 8th slot is a disaster as of recent for the Falcons. The Falcons have drafted two pass rushers at 8 since 2007. Despite entirely different player profiles and careers, both Vic Beasley and Jamaal Anderson were busts that have contributed to Atlanta’s league-worst pass rush.
In this year’s draft, the Falcons have nothing but opportunity. While Terry Fontenot has subscribed to the best player available drafting strategy (the success of which in 2021 is still to be determined), the Falcons have so many needs it could arguably draft any position at 8 outside of tight end and kicker.
In way-too-early mock drafts, that should leave things wide open for Atlanta. 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. Any of those names, outside of potentially the quarterbacks, should start quickly.