ESPN’s Todd McShay has released another version of his NFL Mock Draft. This is the third consecutive time he has had the Atlanta Falcons selecting a wide receiver at No. 8. For the second consecutive mock, it’s Drake London of USC to the Falcons.
“The Falcons didn’t do a whole lot to clean up a lackluster receiver room in free agency,” wrote McShay. “They are currently relying on Olamide Zaccheaus and Damiere Byrd as their top two targets for new quarterback Marcus Mariota. London is a perfect pick here. He is a former basketball player who can box out defensive backs and make tough, contested catches. London is returning from a right ankle fracture but should be ready to go for training camp.”
By selecting London, McShay has the Falcons passing on the likes of offensive tackles Evan Neal (No. 9, Seahawks) and Charles Cross (No. 13, Texans) cornerbacks Sauce Gardner (No. 10, Jets) and Derek Stingley (No. 12 Vikings), and edge rusher Jermaine Johnson (No. 14, Ravens) among others.
The Falcons absolutely need to upgrade the wide receiver room, but Atlanta seems at least two years away from being able to take advantage of a first round wide receiver. McShay acknowledges Mariota isn’t the answer. Which would leave the Falcons banking on a lower selection in 2022 or 2023 rookie. Neither option bodes well for a young wide receiver.
McShay has the Falcons taking safety Lewis Cine out of Georgia with their first pick in the second round, No. 43 overall.
“Cine’s instincts and ability to read receivers’ routes from a single-high alignment stand out on tape,” wrote McShay. “Atlanta allowed 6.7 yards per dropback last season (26th), and it lost Duron Harmon in free agency, opening up a spot in the secondary.”
It’s not that the Falcons couldn’t use another safety, the roster is so barren every position taken in the draft aside from kicker fits a need. But in taking Cine at 43, McShay passes on defensive tackles Travis Jones, Perrion Winfrey, and Phidarian Mathis who would be much more valuable to this Falcons team.
McShay has the Falcons trading up in the second round with the Chicago Bears to target a… quarterback. It only cost Atlanta one of their third round picks, No. 82 overall, to move up from No. 58 to No. 48 and select UNC’s Sam Howell.
“Marcus Mariota isn’t a long-term answer — he might not even be the short-term one — and Howell is the last of five quarterbacks in this class with any real shot of developing into an NFL starter,” writes McShay. “Like Seattle with Matt Corral, this doesn’t mean the Falcons found their guy. Howell offers them another option as they reset the roster after the Matt Ryan trade. He needs to keep working on his footwork and anticipatory throwing, but he is very accurate on deep shots, has a quick release on shorter throws and brings a bit of mobility.”
The Atlanta Falcons have five top-100 picks. In McShay’s mock draft they come away with:
No. 8 – WR Drake London, USC
No. 43 – S Lewis Cine, UGA
No. 58, 82 – QB Sam Howell, UNC
No. 74 – Pending
In a draft loaded with edge rushers, offensive and defensive lineman, but short on quarterbacks, this draft gets an F. The Falcons must take advantage of the depth in the trenches in 2022. Build from the lines and target skill positions in 2023 when the quarterback class is much better and there will be money to spend in free agency.