The chief intrigue of the final weeks for a Falcons team recently eliminated from playoff contention concerns the 2023 NFL Draft order. With a class that features two potentially elite pass rushers and a small handful of high-end quarterback prospects, an early selection might set the Falcons up with a badly needed elite talent at a position of need.
As Will McFadden wrote recently in a comprehensive look at scenarios, the best selection the Falcons could have obtained was the second overall pick if they lost out, but that would also have required a lot of help from other bad teams who would have needed to suddenly start winning. The far likelier outcome was that Atlanta would wind up somewhere outside of the top three but within the top ten, and that’s the outcome we’re on a collision course with now.
Our own Kevin Knight informed us tonight that the Falcons are currently set to pick 7th in the 2023 NFL Draft, having beaten the Cardinals on Sunday. The Texans, Bears, Broncos, Cardinals, and Colts are now locked into top five selections (and currently in that order), leaving the Falcons with no chance of getting that coveted top five pick now. The highest they can finish is sixth, and if they win and things don’t break their way, the latest they could pick is ninth. That means no matter what, Atlanta is assured of a top ten pick for the third straight season. Please note that the tweet below is from before the Raiders game last night, when their loss moved the Falcons up to 7th.
We’ll see where Atlanta winds up, but it’s likely that barring a trade up, they won’t have the chance to get Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, Alabama pass rusher Will Anderson, Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter, and potentially one or both of Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud and Kentucky quarterback Will Levis. If the team is not sold on Desmond Ridder as their quarterback for 2023, the inability to snag a top quarterback in this draft class might be a major problem. If they are, they’ll probably just be a little bummed they’ll be missing out on a superlative defender.
That said, the team will still have a top ten selection. Clemson defensive lineman Myles Murphy, Texas running back Bijan Robinson, Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr., and Florida State pass rusher Jared Verse are among the potentially terrific players expected to be available after the top five, so it’s not like the Falcons will be trying to dip into a dry well of talent. Yet another top ten pick after the team picked up Kyle Pitts and Drake London in 2021 and 2022 to bolster the offense should help this team significantly, especially since they finally have money to spend to add impact players across the roster.
The 2023 offseason is expected to be one of the most impactful in team history—that sounds like it’s setting the bar high, but given the circumstances it’s really not—and their draft haul will certainly be a major piece of that. We only have to wait one more week to know where the team will be selecting in April, so stay tuned.