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Falcons draft an EDGE in Mel Kiper’s first 2023 NFL mock draft

Kiper has four quarterbacks drafted in the first nine picks — none to Atlanta.

2008 NFL Draft Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Atlanta Falcons finally found their Dean Pees replacement in late January, bringing aboard defensive line specialist Ryan Nielsen from New Orleans. There is no question that Nielsen looked at the current roster and said he could use a significant talent infusion across the line. He’s working with Grady Jarrett, but will otherwise be expected to coach up the likes of Arnold Ebiketie, DeAngelo Malone and Ta’Quon Graham into bigger contributors.

Even if Nielsen works magic with those players, the Falcons still need a lot of additional contributors. The Falcons have some talent, but looking at the best lines in the league shows the talent and the depth is just not there even if all the young players hit their peak.

Perhaps Mel Kiper, ESPN’s longest-tenured draft analyst, looked at the roster and came to the same conclusion. Even a less-detailed reviewed would find Atlanta at the bottom of the league in sacks for years.

Kiper has the Falcons grabbing Clemson EDGE Myles Murphy.

The Falcons had just 21 sacks this season, which ranked 31st in the league, and they were led by Grady Jarrett’s six. Veteran edge rusher Lorenzo Carter added four, while rookie second-round pick Arnold Ebiketie had 2.5. No other player had more than two. They have to get better along the front seven. That could start here with Murphy, a complete defender who had 17.5 sacks in three seasons at Clemson. He could even kick inside to tackle on passing downs.

Kiper’s mock plays out a bit uniquely. First, he has four quarterbacks going in the first nine picks: C.J. Stroud at 2 to the Texans, Bryce Young at 4 to the Colts, Will Levis at 5 to Seattle, and Anthony Richardson at 9 to Carolina. Kiper explains that he’s not seeing Atlanta going with a quarterback at the moment, but it is interesting he has plenty worth top picks.

This draft analyst had the same thought as another, as Daniel Jeremiah had the Falcons nabbing Lukas Van Ness, with Myles Murphy falling a few spots later.

Why is Myles Murphy? He is expected to measure about 6-foot-5, 275-pounds at the combine and should test pretty well. Obviously, nearly all the players mocked in the top 10 will be impressive. Myles is no exception, with some nice athleticism, speed, well rounded in both rushing the passer and the run game, and plenty of pass rush moves.

He looks like an immediate starter that could flourish under the right coaching but you would have liked to see more on the stat sheet. I want Will Anderson, Jr. numbers, not ones similar to a non-starter like Van Ness. Of course, maybe I am just forever skeptical of Clemson pass rushers?

Looking at the potential EDGE players available around Atlanta’s spot, I think we’re falling closer into a bucket of similar talents, with the ultimate pick depending on coaching preference. The combine may differentiate these players a bit, but the Falcons at least should have their pick of a lot of guys with good resumes and not much to be concerned with.