It is going to be a busy offseason for the Atlanta Falcons. The team has free agents at most positions and the cap room is very tight. The front office is going to have to get creative in the way that they help reshape the roster. One of the ways that the Falcons will be adding impact players is through this year’s draft. The list of positions that the Falcons need is long, but the lines of scrimmage should be the main focus. Competition on the offensive line and finding some pass rush help should be the top priorities. The Falcons also need to look at adding help at wide receiver because of the situation with Calvin Ridley and the fact that they have several free agents at the position.
To help with this mock draft, I used The Draft Network’s mock draft simulator.
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Round 1, Pick 8: Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
There are plenty of ways that the Falcons could go with this pick, but here, they get the top cornerback in the entire draft. Gardner, better known by his nickname “sauce”, is a shutdown cornerback and has the ability to take away any receiver in the NFL. While A.J. Terrell had a breakout season and was a second-team All-Pro, there is not much after him. Fabian Moreau and Isaiah Oliver are free agents while Kendall Sheffield might be cut. Last year’s draft picks at corner, Avery Williamson and Darren Hall, don’t appear to be ready to take on that starting job.
For more on Gardner, check out our scouting report on him
Round 2, Pick 43: Logan Hall, EDGE, Houston
The Falcon’s top need in this draft is a pass rusher. It has been that way for quite some time, but Atlanta only had 18 sacks as a team last season. With their first of two second-round picks, Atlanta will take one of the highest upside players in this draft in Houston’s Hall. At 6’6″ 275 lbs, Hall has great size and athleticism to be a terror coming off the edge. He is a guy that could even shoot up draft boards even more if he does well at the NFL combine. Hall only had six sacks last season, but he is just scratching the surface of his potential.
Round 2, Pick 58: Jamaree Salyer, OL, Georgia
The Falcons will have another second-round pick due to the Julio Jones trade last offseason. The Falcons need to bring in competition along the offensive line to help protect Matt Ryan, as he was under duress all season. Salyer is the perfect prospect for the Falcons due to his ability to play multiple positions along the offensive line. Jalen Mayfield was one of the worst left guards in the NFL last season as a rookie and Slayer might push him for that job. Matt Hennessy and last year’s fourth-round pick Drew Dalman has not given much at that position and Slayer could play there as well. At the least, Salyer could provide competition for a bad offensive line.
Round 3, Pick 74: Calvin Austin III, WR, Memphis
One of the most explosive receivers in the draft is Austin and the Falcons would be thrilled if he fell this far. Austin is explosive and is coming off back-to-back seasons in which he went over 1,000 yards. The Senior Bowl performance he gave has moved Austin’s draft stock up ever since. Atlanta is going to have to bring in at least one wide receiver help this offseason. Ridley might be traded, Russell Gage, Tajae Sharpe, and others are free agents, leaving the position without much-proven production. The Falcons will be bringing in help through free agency and the draft to get Ryan some more weapons.
For more on Austin, check out our scouting report on him.
Round 4, Pick 112: James Cook, RB, Georgia
The Falcons are going to be looking to find a young running back in this draft, even if they were to re-sign Cordarrelle Patterson. Cook is one of the most versatile backs in this year’s draft and can be a great option out of the backfield receiving. Another thing that is a plus for Cook is that he did not have to shoulder the carries while at Georgia. Cook will have fresher legs than some backs in this draft due to splitting carries and has a high ceiling.
Round 5, Pick 150: Dane Belton, SAF, Iowa
When a team is at this point in the draft, they are more than likely looking for depth and guys that can contribute down the line. For the Falcons, they will have to bring in more depth at the safety position this season. Atlanta had one of the worst safety tandems in the league and will need an upgrade. Belton had a solid 2021 season at Iowa, which included five interceptions. With Erik Harris and Duron Harmon free agents and last year’s second-round pick Richie Grant still unproven, look for Atlanta to add a safety at some point during the draft.
Round 6, Pick 188: Dare Rosenthal, OT, Kentucky
Depth on the offensive line is hard to come by, but it should be a focus for Atlanta this offseason. Rosenthal is coming from one of the most well-coached offensive lines in the country at Kentucky and has upside. At the offensive tackle positions, Atlanta has their left tackle in Jake Matthews, but former first-round pick Kaleb McGary has been a disappointment at right tackle. Rosenthal could sit for a year or two and develop and then possibly take over at either spot when the time comes.
Round 6, Pick 211: Isaac Taylor-Stuart, CB, USC
With their last pick in the draft, Atlanta will add to their cornerback room. At this point in the draft, the best player available strategy is one that Atlanta should look to utilize, and if Taylor-Stuart is on the board, it would be wise to take him. While he only had two career interceptions while at USC, Taylor-Stuart has great size at 6’2″, 200 lbs, and can challenge for playing time on special teams right away. This would be a pick that could pay off later because Taylor-Stuart has potential he has not reached yet.
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