The Atlanta Falcons were trying to walk a tight rope between playoff contention and getting younger under head coach Arthur Smith last season.
Obviously, this started at the all-important quarterback position with Matt Ryan. He’s now a former member of the Falcons following a shocking trade to the Indianapolis Colts.
Heading into the 2022 NFL Draft, there’s a lot of holes for general manager Terry Fontenot to fill. Atlanta posted a 7-10 record in his first season in that role. It needs help at running back, offensive line, defensive line and in the defensive secondary. Atlanta also obviously needs to find a quarterback of the future.
Before we dive into our Falcons mock draft, let’s examine the picks they hold — including that valuable top-10 selection.
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2022 Atlanta Falcons draft picks
- 1st round: 8th overall
- 2nd round: 43rd and 58th overall
- 3rd round: 74th, 82nd overall
- 4th round: 114th overall
- 5th round: 151st overall
- 6th round: 190th overall
- 6th round: 213th overall
Atlanta Falcons mock draft: Forging ahead with rebuild
With Matt Ryan now calling another NFL city home, the focus here is going to be on quarterback. There’s absolutely no reason to believe that this team won’t be looking for a signal caller of the future moving forward.
Even then, there’s other holes a now-rebuilding Falcons team must focus on moving forward. We look at that below.
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1st round, 8th overall: Kenny Pickett, quarterback, Pittsburgh
Considered by most to be one of the top quarterbacks in a relatively weak draft at this position, Atlanta would be doing cartwheels if Pickett fell to the eighth pick. Typically, a team would have to trade up from this selection to land a potential franchise quarterback. That might still be the case here.
- Kenny Pickett college stats (2021): 67% completion, 4,319 yards, 42 TD, 7 INT
As you can see, Pickett had a breakout senior season for Pittsburgh. He was among the nation’s best quarterbacks and earned ACC Player of the Year honors. At 6-foot-3, he has the frame to hold up in the NFL. Pickett also boasts above-average arm strength and pretty decent accuracy.
While there’s going to be some growing pains here, Atlanta would have Pickett sit behind Marcus Mariota for a season or two before taking over.
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2nd round, 43rd overall: Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC
Atlanta recorded an NFL-low 18 sacks a season ago under defensive coordinator Dean Pees. Dante Fowler Jr. (4.5 sacks) led the team, but he was released for salary cap purposes. Outside of that, not a single member of the Falcons recorded more than two sacks. That’s just pathetic.
Enter into the equation Mr. Jackson. Throughout his three years with the Trojans, Jackson registered 25 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks. He was a consistent threat in the offensive backfield and can play multiple positions in Pees’ scheme-friendly system. Need and value in Atlanta with the first of its two second-round selections.
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2nd round 58th pick: Kenneth Walker, running back, Michigan State
Acquired from the Tennessee Titans in the Julio Jones blockbuster last offseason, the Atlanta Falcons go skill-position with this selection. To say that running back is a need would be an understatement. Cordarrelle Patterson led the team with 618 rushing yards a season ago. While he returned in free agency, there’s still a need here. Youngster Qadree Ollison just hasn’t panned out after Atlanta made him a fifth-round pick back in 2019.
This Doak Walker Award winner would change the dynamics big time in Atlanta’s backfield. This past season for Michigan State, the 210-pound Walker recorded 1,646 yards and 18 touchowns at a clip of 6.2 yards per rush.
Walker has a great build that sets up well at the NFL level. He has tremendous power and an ability to get out on the edge and into the second level. Simply put, you don’t produce at this level without being talented. If this were to happen, Arthur Smith might end up with his own version of Derrick Henry in Atlanta.
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3rd round, 74th pick: Cam Taylor-Britt, cornerback/safety, Nebraska
Taylor-Britt displayed flashes of brilliance in the Cornhuskers’ defensive backfield last season. Playing outside at cornerback, he boasts tremendous man coverage skills and has great vision — particularly when keeping his eyes on the quarterback in the backfield.
Most have Taylor-Britt lining up at this position at the professional level. However, we envision him more as a single-high free safety with a tremendous amount of range. This is also an area of weakness for a Falcons team that yielded 31 passing touchdowns against 12 interceptions a season ago. Taylor-Britt’s versatility would be huge for the Falcons, too.
3rd round, 82nd overall: Khalil Shakir, wide receiver, Boise State
With Calvin Ridley suspended for the 2022 season and Russell Gage now a member of the division-rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers, wide receiver is an obvious need for the Falcons. They should address this position with multiple picks.
In the selection acquired from Indianapolis for Matt Ryan, Atlanta picks up a studly 6-foot receiver who could act as a legit threat for the aforementioned Pickett moving forward. Shakir caught 77 passes for 1,117 yards and seven touchdowns for Boise State last season.
4th round, 114th overall: John Metchie, wide receiver, Alabama
Metchie is an interesting case study in that he suffered a torn ACL his last season with the Crimson Tide. If that had not happened, the 6-foot receiver likely would have been a first-round pick. He dominated to the tune of 96 catches for 1,142 yards before going down to injury.
Already boasting a pro-ready route tree, Metchie projects more to the slot than the outside in the NFL. He’d be a perfect fit in that role with stud tight end Kyle Pitts. Acquiring this type of talent in Round 4 would also be an absolute steal for Atlanta.
Filling out the Atlanta Falcons draft class
- 5th round, 151st overall: Abraham Lucas, offensive tackle, Washington State
- 6th round, 190th overall: Jack Jones, cornerback, Arizona State
- 6th round, 213th overall: Matt Araiza, punter, San Diego State
Let us know what you think about our Atlanta Falcons mock draft in the comments below.