The Atlanta Falcons are mere days away from adding a host of new players to the roster, and there’s still no firm consensus on who the first pick in that bunch will be.
With a roster this porous, almost any direction could and would do. We’ve heard a spattering of rumors over players the team might like, but those all seem to be rumors and guesswork to this point.
ESPN draft guru Todd McShay has heard some rumblings over what the Falcons might do in his latest buzzy column, and it involves the team taking a two-pronged approach to its first-round pick.
McShay says he feels that, while the team certainly could go after wideouts like USC’s Drake London (who the team is apparently “high” on) and Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson, the team might be the falling spot for an elite pass rushing prospect in Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux.
It’s very possible that Atlanta focuses its attention on wide receiver, and specifically Wilson or London. I’ve heard there are people in the building who are high on London. Olamide Zaccheaus is the team’s current WR1.
But I’ve also heard the Falcons’ eighth overall selection is likely the parachute pick for Thibodeaux. Some decision-makers around the NFL are under the impression that Atlanta will take the Oregon pass-rusher if he’s still there. That’s a big departure from what I heard about a month ago. But remember, the Falcons were last in the NFL in sacks with 18 last season — 11 fewer than the second-worst team.
Thibodeaux would certainly raise some eyebrows in Falconland, if only because the team has not used a first-round pick on a pass rusher since Takk McKinley in 2017. It’d be the new regime’s first major investment in a pass rusher, and the team’s first major investment since the Dante Fowler free agency signing in 2020 (which, y’know, didn’t really work out).
The Thomas Dimitroff years were plagued with an inability to find good edge rushers sans John Abraham (who was already in Atlanta), Adrian Clayborn, and that one year Vic Beasley was really good. Beasley, funny enough, was also picked eighth overall in 2015, the pick the Falcons have in this year’s draft.
Like Beasley, Thibodeaux comes highly regarded, but projects to be a player who needs refinement and coaching to really unlock his potential. Our Everett Glaze did a scouting report on Thibodeaux and reported back these takeaways:
Thibodeaux is an elite athlete with great functional strength. The Atlanta Falcons have lots of needs, but EDGE has been at the top of that list for quite some time. Plus, having a player like Thibodeaux would do wonders for a defense that is looking solid on the back end with A.J. Terrell and the addition of Casey Hayward. Thibodeaux would be an immediate starter off the edge for this defense and shows relentless pursuit of the quarterback in pass rush situations. Apparently, some out there question his desire and effort, but it’s just something I didn’t see on film.
I don’t see many scenarios where Thibodeaux falls to 8th overall, but he if does, Terry Fontenot should race to the podium to make the pick for a player that has all the traits to become an elite pass rusher at the next level. The Falcons could really use one of those.
If McShay’s hearing the right rumors, it appears that the Falcons may very well be an option for Thibodeaux if his rumored draft fall comes into fruition. It’d address a major need on the Falcons roster and would do so with a player with sky-high potential. He’d also be entering an organization that isn’t going to contend right away, and one he could grow with as it tries to ascend back into relevancy.
In other words, it feels like it could be a home run pick, at least until we see him take the field in August and see where he is. It feels a little too good to be true right now to see a player as talented as Thibodeaux slip this far in the draft process, especially in a year where the top ten is a bit of a jumble, but stranger things have happened.
We’ll know soon enough how much of this is smoke and how much of it is legitimate when the first round of the NFL Draft gets underway Thursday night.