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Falcons trade up, nab pass rusher Arnold Ebiketie in second round

Atlanta finally adds some edge rushing help with a quick jump up in the second round.

NFL: Scouting Combine Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Falcons stood pat at eighth overall and added wide receiver and tall drink o’water Drake London with their first pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, but made a move early in the second round — trading up all the way to No. 38 to snag Penn State EDGE Arnold Ebiketie. They trade No. 43 and No. 114 in the fourth round to get him.

Regarded as one of the top remaining edge defenders on the board, Ebiketie should immediately upgrade Atlanta’s pass rush rotation. With 9.5 sacks in his senior season, Ebiketie was third in the Big-10 in sacks.

2021 was Arnold Ebiketie’s only season with the Nittany Lions, after spending the previous three years with the Temple Owls, where he logged 58 tackles and six sacks. He became an immediate starter on Penn State’s defense after the transfer.

For a defensive line and outside linebacker group desperate for pass-rushing help, this is a strong pick.

Our Kevin Knight provided this scouting report on Atlanta’s newest member of the defense:

Ebiketie has solid size at 6’2, 250 and possesses strong athletic traits. He’s explosive, long, and dynamic off the edge and has put together an incredibly productive season: 18.0 TFL and 9.5 sacks in 12 games. Ebiketie spent the first three seasons of his college career at Temple before transferring to Penn State and actually improving his production. That’s a good sign that this is a player who can develop quickly, and who can grow to become even better at the NFL level.

Explosive, long, and dynamic are all the sorts of adjectives you’d like to see for an early round edge defender. In Atlanta, Ebiketie immediately becomes the top option in the team’s edge group, with Lorenzo Carter and Adetokunbo Ogundeji figuring to be major factors there as well.

EDGE appeared to be a spot Atlanta would address early in the draft, but after the top defenders were taken ahead of their selection in the first round they decided on offense. Arnold Ebiketie fulfills that major need, and hopefully becomes an impact player for a Falcons team that desperately needs one.

Welcome to Atlanta.