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Falcons Address Big Needs in ESPN’s 7-Round Mock Draft

The Atlanta Falcons have been busy during free agency and still have the opportunity to add several impact players in the NFL Draft.

The general consensus is that the Falcons’ biggest needs are at pass rusher (edge) and cornerback. Well, the consensus outside the national media’s obsession that the Falcons owe Lamar Jackson a contract, but I digress.

At the No. 8 spot in the draft, the Falcons should have the opportunity to get a premier cornerback or defensive lineman and should go with the player who is highest on their board.

ESPN’s latest seven-round NFL Mock Draft is a tremendous undertaking from Jordan Reid, and he has the Falcons taking Oregon cornerback Christian Gonzalez after edge rushers Will Anderson and Tyree Wilson along with defensive tackle Jalen Carter are gone in the first-six picks.

Since general manager Terry Fontenot and coach Arthur Smith took over in 2021, they have placed value on taking the best player available in Round 1. With Gonzalez still on the board here, he’s a no-brainer selection. Casey Hayward is coming off torn pectoral surgery and will turn 34 at the start of the season. The Falcons are in dire need of help on the defensive line and in the secondary opposite A.J. Terrell. Pairing Gonzalez with Terrell and newly signed safety Jessie Bates would give Atlanta one of the best young secondaries in the league. — Jordan Reid, ESPN+

We advocated for taking cornerback last year with Derek Stingley or Sauce Gardner, but they went off the board at No. 3 and No. 4 respectively before the Falcons could pick at No. 8.

Getting Gonzalez makes sense for the same reasons it would have last year, and Reid does a good job of illustrating the value Gonzalez would bring to the Falcons.

Atlanta still needs an edge. The Falcons have spent a lot of money on defense in free agency, but a lot of that has gone to strengthening the core… defensive tackle David Onyemata, safety Jessie Bates, and linebacker Kaden Elliss all play up the middle.

Reid has the Falcons getting an edge rusher by taking LSU’s B.J. Ojulari with the No. 44 overall pick in the second round

After finishing with the second-fewest sacks last season (21), the Falcons must add a pass-rusher early in the draft. Ojulari would give them a dynamic edge rusher who understands how to wreak havoc on opposing passers. He had 12.5 sacks over the past two seasons. — Jordan Reid, ESPN+

The Falcons invested a second-round pick in Arnold Ebiketie and a third-round pick in Deangelo Malone last year, but they still need more help.

This is a deep year at edge, and the Falcons should be in position to take advantage in the second round.

After addressing the two biggest needs early in the draft, Reid has the Falcons addressing a sneaky need in the third… wide receiver.

Atlanta my be able to win a basketball game with their bevy of 6’4+ pass catchers, but getting a quick player in the slot would help head coach Arthur Smith add a different dimension to his attack. Reid takes Desmond Ridder’s former teammate Tyler Scott with the No. 75 pick.

Atlanta doesn’t have a receiver like 5-10 Scott. He has plenty of speed — he ran a 4.44-second 40-yard dash at the combine — and his ability to stress the defense’s third level could help unlock the Falcons’ passing game. He averaged 16.6 yards per catch last season. — Jordan Reid, ESPN+

After Scott it’s a matter of finding hidden gems in the fourth round and beyond. General manager Terry Fontenot has had a lot of success in that area with his first-two drafts including running back Tyler Allgeier (5th round), defensive lineman Ta’Quon Graham (5th), and return man Avery Williams (5th).

110: (from TEN): Anthony Bradford, IOL, LSU
113: Michael Wilson, WR, Stanford
159: Carter Warren, OT, Pittsburgh
224: Tyler Lacy, Edge, Oklahoma State
225: Keaton Mitchell, RB, East Carolina

It’s been a busy month for the Atlanta Falcons, and they have already improved the roster tremendously. They’ll get another chance on April 27th when the NFL Draft begins.

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Scott Kennedy
Scott Kennedy is an Atlanta native and 20 year media veteran including time as Director of Scouting at, Managing Editor at 247Sports, VP Content Operations at Sports Illustrated and more. Scott has appeared as a recruiting and NFL Draft analyst on dozens of media including ESPN, NFL Network, USA Today, NY Times, and more.