With their frankly dispiriting loss to the Saints in the books, the Falcons now know where they’ll be picking in the 2022 NFL Draft. After weeks of tracking the ups and downs as the team won and lost, they’ve settled in at the No. 8 selection, where they were trending back at the beginning of December.
That’s the fifth time the Falcons have landed the 8th overall pick. They landed the great Bob Whitfield back in 1992 and saw him start 167 games for the team, but since then their track record with that pick has been more mixed. DeAngelo Hall had a very good career at cornerback but spent just four years of it in Atlanta, while Jamaal Anderson was a massive bust in 2007 and Vic Beasley delivered one season of massive production and a couple of solid ones in five years with the Falcons. There’s no question Atlanta will want to land someone who has Whitfield’s impact—or hell, let’s be greedy, more than that—to get this roster pointed in the right direction.
This is also also the second consecutive top ten finish for the Falcons, who were 4-12 and used the 4th overall pick on Kyle Pitts in 2021. The need for another top ten talent—and more broadly, another impactful draft class—couldn’t be more evident for an Atlanta team that finished in the bottom third to bottom quartile of the league in most metrics. Atlanta was admirably resilient and a bit lucky to win as many games in 2021 as they did, but I really don’t expect the front office to proceed this offseason as though they’re only a few additions away from having this thing nailed down.
As Tori McElhaney wrote at AtlantaFalcons.com, this team can go in many different directions with their top pick, but figure to be looking hard at the lines. Atlanta finished dead last in sacks and most pass rushing metrics, making the need for an infusion of talent evident, and also “boasted” an offensive line that frequently got Matt Ryan clobbered and couldn’t open lanes for the likes of Mike Davis, Cordarrelle Patterson and Qadree Ollison. The talent level on this roster and the team’s needs make it clear that nearly any position should be fair game if the team has a chance to draft a difference maker, though, so we’ll see what predraft buzz indicates to us about this team’s plans.
Settle in for months of salivating over top prospects, vague but enticing rumors, and maybe some good old fashioned trade talk before the draft actually arrives.