Mock drafts are a dime a dozen, but in the media ranks, some have more weight than others.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper for example. He’s the Godfather of the NFL Draft, so I perk up a little bit more when he’s speaking.
Kiper’s colleague at ESPN Todd McShay as the megaphone of the world-wide leader if not the decades of experience and track record of Kiper. McShay released the second version of his mock draft on Wednesday, and for the second time, he has the Atlanta Falcons drafting a wide receiver at No. 8.
In his first mock draft, McShay had the Falcons taking Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams in what I called at the time a “bizarre” pick. Williams suffered a season-ending knee injury shortly after that, and McShay doubles down on the receiver pick for the Falcons. This time with Atlanta taking USC’s Drake London.
McShay says of London:
“A team has used top-10 picks on pass-catchers in back-to-back drafts three times since 1967, so this might seem odd for a roster that just went 7-10,” writes McShay. “But the offense could lose five of the eight players who had at least 70 receiving yards last season to free agency, and it’s possible the Falcons additionally look to trade Calvin Ridley, who played in five games last year while taking time off to focus on his mental health. London, meanwhile, was on his way to a massive campaign for USC before breaking his right ankle in October. He’s a 6-foot-5 target who has the body control and contact balance to make plays over the middle, the speed to produce vertically and the instincts to create against different defensive looks.
The Falcons passed on a strong QB class at No. 4 last April to draft tight end Kyle Pitts, but it might decide to go that route now. Matt Ryan is their guy for 2022, but if they fall in love with one of the signal-callers, it’s a good spot to draft an heir to sit and learn behind Ryan. Perhaps Pitt’s Kenny Pickett could fit.”
I’m not saying the Falcons don’t need a wide receiver. They desperately need a wide receiver. If camp started tomorrow, the Falcons would bring in a group that has a career total of one catch for 14 yards… combined.
But a wide receiver for a team that could add 10 sacks and go from 18 to 28 and STILL be last in the NFL, can’t run the ball, can’t protect their soon to be 37-year old quarterback, and can’t stop the run, a now second choice wide receiver makes zero sense.
This draft is loaded with edge rushers and is deep on interior defensive linemen and offensive tackles. A corner opposite A.J. Terrell is a bigger need than a first-round wide receiver for this team. A tandem of say Darryl Stingley Jr. of LSU and Terrell would allow Falcons defensive coordinator more flexibility in his blitz packages.
Selecting a cornerback would directly impact the defensive line and pass rush.
The Falcons absolutely need a wide receiver. Frankly, they need three.
But taking London at No. 8 is a luxury this team can’t afford.