It’s a new era in Atlanta. With the Falcons trading Matt Ryan around two weeks ago, Atlanta has officially begun a long and gloomy rebuild. This is a team with nice young talent on the roster in A.J. Terrell and Kyle Pitts but not a group that can win more than four games. On the bright side, the Falcons have nine picks in this draft, including five in the top 100, and it’s imperative that Atlanta nails all of them.
To help with this mock draft, I used The Draft Network’s mock draft simulator.
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Round 1, Pick 8: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
The jury is, and always will be, out on Willis as a top-10 pick, but Atlanta needs to pull the trigger. Marcus Mariota is by no means the future at the quarterback position here, and Willis has extremely high upside. Give him one, or two, years to develop, and we are looking at a more than a capable starter in the NFL and the hopeful future of the Falcons. No team needs to swing for fences more than the Falcons do.
For more on Willis, check out our scouting report on him.
Round 2, Pick 43: George Pickens, WR, Georgia
Now, we have to get some weapons for Willis. Yes, by the time he comes in, Calvin Ridley will be back, but there’s virtually no one after Ridley. Pickens was once regarded as the top receiver in this class before his injury. He does just about everything well, packing elite hands with nice functional strength. With this pick, Pickens stayed in the state where he played college ball and became an instant fan favorite as a result.
For more on Pickens, check out our scouting report on him.
Round 2, Pick 58: Logan Hall, EDGE, Houston
Some consider Hall to be an interior defensive lineman while others say he’s the best fit for the edge. In any circumstance, this is another player with high-end upside. The versatility alone will get Hall reps early, setting a nice developmental course. Hall will also fill a big-time need upfront after a morbid performance from Atlanta’s defensive line in 2021.
Round 3, Pick 74: Channing Tindall, LB, Georgia
Another pick, and we go right back to a Georgia Bulldog. Aside from Deion Jones, there’s really nothing in the Falcons’ linebacker core after Foyesade Oluokun left for the Jacksonville Jaguars this offseason. Tindall provides instant value against the run and has got the physical traits that the Falcons want from their linebackers. This do-it-all guy will get play-time right away and can become a difference-maker on the defensive side of the ball.
For more on Tindall, check out our scouting report on him.
Round 3, Pick 82: Calvin Austin III, WR, Memphis
Atlanta’s last pick in the top-100 comes with big-time upside. Austin is a speed demon who has exceptional hips and can stretch out a defense. He and Pickens will provide a sort of yin-and-yang duo on the receiver front, with each being able to win in opposite ways. Austin can also provide value in the return game, saving a roster spot for some more depth.
For more on Austin, check out our scouting report on him.
Round 4, Pick 114: Martin Emerson, CB, Mississippi State
Emerson’s stock is all over the place, so it’s hard to tell if he’ll be here or not for the Falcons in the fourth round. If he is, he must be an instant selection. At 6-foot-2, Emerson’s length makes him a great option to disrupt passing lanes against zone coverage, and he does so very well. He projects to play in a zone scheme, which is exactly what Atlanta needs. If he hits his highest potential, Emerson will be able to create a nice young duo with Terrell on the opposite boundary.
Round 5, Pick 151: Verone McKinley, SAF, Oregon
Back-to-back hits on the secondary. McKinley has shown he is a primarily coverage safety, one that’s comfortable in single-high and two-high sets. He’ll give this team more depth up top and is, once again, a very nice scheme fit. So far, the Falcons continue to hit on needs while getting some of the best players on the board, and they do so with McKinley.
Round 6, Pick 190: Thomas Booker, DL, Stanford
After getting a player back in the second round who can play at any spot on this defensive line, the Falcons turn around and go for a clear interior player. Booker has a very small frame but sets up a really nice lower body to gain leverage. The best part about Booker comes from his experience, intelligence, and athleticism, which will instantly win him reps with the Falcons, even if he is not the most skilled player.
For more on Booker, check out our scouting report on him.
Round 7, Pick 213: Nick Ford, iOL, Utah
The one problem with this mock was not being able to hit on the offensive line until now. While this unit is a problem, Atlanta has so many other major holes afoot that must be addressed first. Ford is a solid player on the interior who has a legitimate shot at making the roster. He’s another player with great experience and nice athleticism that will provide depth for the Falcons.
Follow Charlie Parent on Twitter @Charlie_Parent
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