Draft season is in full swing, with the Senior Bowl behind us and the NFL Combine coming up next week. With the potential of a Combine boycott seemingly averted, we’ll get a chance to see all the top prospects compete in Indianapolis. This is the last major draft event outside of Pro Days before the actual draft itself, and will help scouts—myself included—finalize their grades on the class.
Before we get all that athletic testing data and buzz from the Combine, there’s time for one more Atlanta Falcons mock draft. If you missed any of my previous mock drafts, you can find them below:
I once again used The Draft Network’s Mock Draft Machine to conduct this mock. We’ll be going back-and-forth between “no-trade” mocks and “trades considered” mocks, and this week we’re back to considering trades. Let’s see what kind of offers the Falcons get at 8.
Falcons trade pick 8 to the Eagles for picks 15, 51 (2nd), and 83 (3rd).
The Falcons are looking for a trade down after seeing all their top targets come off the board ahead of their pick. Luckily, the Eagles are looking to aggressively pursue their top corner prospect and agree to a trade, sending Atlanta 15, 51 (2nd), and 83 (3rd). With three firsts, including back-to-back picks at 15 and 16, Philadelphia could be one of the more active movers in the draft, and the Falcons benefit here.
While I’m a bit skeptical of Michigan edge rusher David Ojabo at 8—and would probably rather have Jermaine Johnson here if he falls (he went at 7 in this simulation)—I think the value is much better at 15. Ojabo has sky-high potential as a pass rusher and is likely to test out as one of the best athletes in the class. He’s beginning to come along in terms of his pass rushing technique, but his play as a run defender is still lacking. Ojabo would instantly become the best pass rusher on the roster and should continue to improve over the next few seasons, although he’ll be best used as a third down specialist early on.
Atlanta lucks into a tremendous value and position-of-need selection here, with Oklahoma’s Perrion Winfrey falling to 43. Winfrey was arguably the most impressive interior defensive lineman at the Senior Bowl, showing off his ability to rush the passer and dominate in one-on-one situations after being forced into a nose tackle role for much of his college career. He dropped weight heading into Mobile and looked unstoppable as a penetrating 3T, but has experience all over the defensive line. Winfrey would be a phenomenal running mate for Grady Jarrett who can contribute as both a pass rusher and run stuffer right away.
Pick received from Eagles.
The Falcons have a ton of flexibility here due to the additional picks, and they decide to go after a high-ceiling developmental OT in Central Michigan’s Bernhard Raimann. Raimann has tremendous size at 6’6, 305 and terrific length with an over 80 inch wingspan. As a converted tight end, Raimann is an exceptional athlete—and it’s a testament to his work ethic that he’s been able to pack on over 70 good pounds over the past two seasons. As only a two-year starter at tackle, Raimann needs additional development and technical work before he’s ready to start. Atlanta offers the perfect situation for him, as he can sit behind Kaleb McGary for a year as the swing tackle before taking over in 2023.
Pick received from Titans.
The Falcons rolled the dice and elected to wait a little at wide receiver, and the gamble pays off with Georgia’s George Pickens falling to 58. Pickens has seen his stock fluctuate quite a bit this offseason—and a strong Combine performance could lift him yet again—but he’d be a fantastic value this late on Day 2. A true WR1 prospect, Pickens has ideal size at 6’3, 200 and pairs it with dynamic athleticism. He’s a threat at all levels of the field, with terrific hands, deep speed, and a big route tree. Pickens could stand to add some weight to his frame, and his work as a run-blocker needs improvement. Atlanta shouldn’t hesitate to jump on a falling player like Pickens, should the opportunity arise.
The extra picks from the trade-down with the Eagles give the Falcons the flexibility to target BPA, and even double-dip at a position of need. Atlanta does just that by selecting Oklahoma edge rusher Nik Bonitto, who can provide value at both EDGE and LB for the team. Bonitto is an exceptional athlete and lethal speed rusher on the outside who also offers versatility as an off-ball linebacker and coverage player against TEs. While he’s a little undersized at 6’3, 240, Bonitto plays with a lot of physicality and doesn’t have issues setting the edge or tackling. Atlanta could be looking at a completely revamped (and much improved) edge group in 2022 with the additions of Ojabo and Bonitto, plus any veterans the team adds in free agency.
Pick received from Eagles.
The defensive reconstruction continues with the selection of Wyoming linebacker Chad Muma. An athletic player with excellent size (6’3, 240), Muma doesn’t have a lot of weaknesses. He’s got the physicality to thrive as a tackler and has strong instincts to shut down the run game. Muma also has good coverage ability, as he’s comfortable dropping in zone and in playing man against RBs and TEs. Most notably, Muma is an on-field leader with excellent football IQ—this is a player who can be the heartbeat of a defense in time. Pairing Muma with Foye Oluokun and Mykal Walker would give Atlanta a talented and athletic LB trio heading into 2022.
It was a big surprise when Atlanta passed on adding a RB in the 2021 draft, and I don’t think it’s likely to happen again in 2022. Whether Cordarrelle Patterson returns or not (fingers crossed), the Falcons need a potential starter who can take on the bulk of the carries and ideally offer some third down ability as well. Florida’s Dameon Pierce was the biggest standout at the Senior Bowl, showing off a versatile skillset as both a physical, elusive runner and as a quality pass-catcher. Pierce would be an excellent value early on Day 3 who has a chance to have a much better NFL career than the one he had in college.
Now deep into Day 3, the Falcons should be searching for upside and quality depth pieces. Atlanta missed out on adding an instant-impact cornerback to play alongside A.J. Terrell, but can still add a high-upside developmental prospect in Fayetteville State’s Joshua Williams. A player I had never heard of going into the Senior Bowl, Williams showed he belonged by matching up well against a very talented group of receivers. With a terrific build at over 6’2, 193 and with over 32 inch arms, Williams has the frame of a high-end outside corner. He’s obviously still raw coming out of a D2 program and will need time to adjust to the NFL game, but I love his long-term potential and was encouraged by how he performed in Mobile.
With the Falcons chasing a high-upside secondary player at the previous pick, the team opts to go for a versatile high-floor depth piece in Virginia’s Nick Grant with this selection. Grant is exactly the type of depth safety Atlanta covets: he plays all over the secondary, including as a box safety, in C2, and in single-high. He even played some slot corner from time-to-time. Grant has strong instincts in both coverage and in run defense, and is quick to trigger on plays. He’s a little inconsistent as a tackler and lacks high-end range and athleticism, so I’m not sure he’ll ever be a plus starter. But as a depth player, core special teamer, and potential third safety, Grant could be a good value this late in the draft.
Projected compensatory pick from Alex Mack.
This late in the draft, we’re looking at high-upside dart throws and priority UDFAs. Oklahoma’s Michael Woods II is intriguing in this spot, with an NFL-ready 6’1, 200 frame that gives him the flexibility to play both on the outside and in the slot. Woods had a down year at Oklahoma after transferring from Arkansas, but has shown flashes of dominance as a deep threat and is physical in contested-catch situations. Woods plays hard and is nasty as a run blocker, and I think he could wind up having a much better NFL career than expected. This late in the draft, his upside as a potential WR3 and special teamer is enticing.
What are your thoughts on this mock draft class for the Falcons? Post your own mock drafts in the comments below!