The first pick off the board for Atlanta was USC wide receiver Drake London, filling a major need on the team’s roster and giving head coach Arthur Smith the exact type of receiver his offense tends to do well with. For the second round, it’s unlikely the team will double-dip at receiver, especially with a roster that needs love at other spots.
Who are the best players available for the team? Let’s take a quick look at a few positions that would make sense for higher picks.
Liberty QB Malik Willis, a raw dual-threat talent with an incredible ceiling, and Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder, a more polished prospect who reminds some of Ryan Tannehill, are very possible targets for the Falcons on night two. It’s not a lock they’ll take a signal caller this early this year, but with Willis’ tantalizing potential and Ridder’s fit for Smith’s system. You’ve got to consider the possibility. Ole Miss’ Matt Corral, North Carolina’s Sam Howell and Nevada’s Carson Strong are also still on the board and could be of interest, and the team has been persistently linked to Corral of late.
If the team wants a pass rusher, it’s got its fair share. Minnesota rusher Boye Mafe is available and earned a lot of hype coming into the draft, as did Penn State’s Arnold Ebiketie. The team could reunite the USC Drakes by taking Drake Jackson, or they could draft Michigan pass rusher David Ojabo, who tore his Achilles during the pre-draft process but projects as a first-round talent when healthy. Those are the three guys to watch early, but Nik Bonitto (Oklahoma), Cameron Thomas (SDSU), Kingsley Enagbare (South Carolina) and Myjai Sanders (Cincinnati) could probably be had later in the second round.
Maybe the most intriguing group available could be the linebackers. While the Falcons did sign Rashaan Evans, they could still add here. Georgia’s Nakobe Dean would be a steal at this point in the process, and Alabama’s Christian Harris, Wyoming’s Chad Muma, Penn State’s Brandon Smith, Georgia’s Channing Tindall, Oklahoma’s Brian Asamoah II and Montana State’s Troy Anderson will also be around for the taking.
If the team wants to add to the defensive back room, Clemson cornerback Andrew Booth Jr., Washington CB Kyler Gordon, Auburn CB Roger McCreary and the speedy UTSA CB Tariq Woolen are possibilities. If the team wants to take a safety early, Penn State’s Jaquan Brisker, Baylor’s Jalen Pitre and Maryland’s Nick Cross are around.
The offensive line options aren’t as inspiring as they are on defense. At guard, UCLA’s Sean Rhyan is the premiere guard prospect available right now arguably, but Georgia’s Jamaree Salyer, LSU’s Ed Ingram and Virginia Tech’s Lectius Smith are also available. At right tackle, the options look a little more promising, with Central Michigan’s Bernhard Raimann, Washington State’s Abraham Lucas, Minnesota’s Daniel Faalele and Ohio State’s Nicholas Petit-Frere on the board. In the unlikely event the team takes a center early, Nebraska’s Cameron Jurgens, Kentucky’s Luke Fortner and Boston College’s Alec Lindstrom (brother of Chris) are among the top names available.
If the team wants to continue to replenish its pass-catching arsenal, there are interesting options to consider. For the wideouts, Georgia’s George Pickens, NDSU’s Christian Watson, Cincinnati’s Alec Pierce, Western Michigan’s Skyy Moore, Alabama’s John Metchie III, South Alabama’s Jalen Tolbert, Nevada’s Romeo Doubs, Purdue’s David Bell, Clemson’s Justyn Ross and Memphis’ Calvin Austin III are all guys the team could consider. Don’t be shocked to see one of these guys taken at some point Friday.
If the team wants a tight end, none have come off the board yet, so take your pick of guys like Colorado State’s Trey McBride, Virginia’s Jelani Woods, Costal Carolina’s Isaiah Likely, UCLA’s Greg Dulcich and Ohio State’s Jeremy Ruckert, among others.
So, as you can see, the team has a lot of guys to consider, if not more than are listed here. We’ll see where the next four picks go, and we’ll keep you updated on what’s next.
Who would you like to see next up in a Falcons uniform?