We’re now entering the third season of the Terry Fontenot, Arthur Smith Atlanta Falcons regime. After back-to-back seven-win seasons, the Falcons have earned the eighth overall pick and are once again in a strong position to improve their roster.
As expected when finishing in last place of your division, the Falcons have several needs to address, and we don’t even know if Desmond Ridder is the long-term solution at QB. Basically, there are far more questions than answers heading into the draft process.
While the Falcons have done well to quickly move on from the Matt Ryan era while slowly adding talent to the bottom doesn’t completely fall out, we need to start seeing some progress in the win department.
Related: 2023 NFL mock draft
Hopefully, with a strong draft haul, we’ll start seeing those results translate to the field during the 2023 season. With the NFC South wide open heading into the year, the Falcons need to realize the great opportunity ahead. But we won’t see the Dirty Birds get airborne unless they can nail their upcoming draft by coming away with at least a few immediate contributors who display the potential to develop into a star player.
Before diving into our Falcons mock draft, here’s a rundown of their needs and draft picks.
Atlanta Falcons draft picks 2023
Here are the Falcons’ draft picks in the 2023 NFL Draft.
- Round 1: 8th overall
- Round 2: 44th overall
- Round 3: 75th overall
- Round 4: 110th overall
- Round 4: 113th overall
- Round 5: 159th overall
- Round 7: 224th overall
- Round 7: 225th overall
- Round 7: 245th overall
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Atlanta Falcons draft needs 2023
Here are the Falcons’ current draft needs before the 2023 NFL Draft.
Related: 2023 NFL Draft order
Atlanta Falcons mock draft
First round, 8th overall: Jalen Carter, defensive tackle, Georgia
After finishing with the second-fewest sacks in the NFL a season ago, it’s time for an injection of talent in the trenches in Atlanta. If Jalen Carter’s pre-draft concerns truly cause him to slip a bit, the Falcons could end up landing a player who many regarded as the best in the 2023 talent pool.
With improving the defensive line arguably the biggest need left to address this offseason, the Falcons would be foolish to overlook a dominant in-state talent like Carter. He can single-handedly blow up an offense’s scoring attack by placing immediate pressure on the QB up the A-gap while also being an effective run-stuffer on other downs.
Sure, there are some off-field concerns surrounding Carter, but as long as there are no questions about his commitment to the game, as his rough workout may indicate, the Falcons shouldn’t hesitate to consider adding Carter to the trenches.
Even if the Falcons feel getting Eddie Goldman back from a one-season hiatus will help the team naturally improve, Carter is a versatile player who can play anywhere on the line. Considering that he’d be able to join Grady Jarrett and Goldman in the trenches, the Falcons could suddenly have a very formidable group of down linemen next season.
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Second round, 44th overall: Felix Anudike-Uzomah, EDGE, Kansas State
There’s a certain theme we’re sticking with here, and as you can tell, it’s all about patching up the NFL’s 23rd-ranked scoring defense from 2022. Adding just one impact player in the front seven won’t overhaul this unit. But adding two blue-chip prospects might.
We don’t doubt Jalen Carter’s ability to wreak havoc in the trenches, but the Falcons really need some pressure coming off the edge as well, and Kansas State’s Felix Anudike-Uzomah is a pure pass-rusher with high-end potential.
Anudike-Uzomah’s ability to bend around the edge makes him look like a natural at any level of play. Not only does he look the part, FAU was also highly productive in college, racking up 20.5 sacks across three seasons. Still just 21, Anudike-Uzomah already possesses a strong understanding of how to create pressure, posting a 15.9% pass-rush win rate per PFF. Thanks to a strong skill set, plenty of production, and impressive flexibility, the Falcons would be wise to consider FAU in the second round.
Third round, 75th overall: Nathaniel Dell, wide receiver, Houston
We can’t entirely ignore the elephant in the room that is the Falcons’ second-worst passing attack from a season ago. Second-year pro Desmond Ridder is expected to get his chance to win the starting QB gig in training camp, but do the Falcons have enough weapons for the former third-round pick to thrive?
We’re not so sure. Drake London and Kyle Pitts are both freakish talents, but Ridder needs more than just Mack Hollins and Jonnu Smith to work with. Both London and Pitts are 6-foot-5 or taller, but having a smaller slot receiver who can keep defenders guessing would take more pressure off Atlanta’s young QB.
Houston’s Nathaniel Dell fits that profile as a 5-foot-8 speedster who can change directions as well as anyone else in this draft class and could develop into a yards-after-catch monster. Or, he can just burn defenders downfield, giving Ridder another deep shot that can create separation. Either way, Dell is a weapon that would fit this offense well.
Atlanta Falcons mock draft 2023: 7-round projection
- 1st Round, 8th overall: Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
- 2nd Round, 44th overall: Felix Anudike-Ozumah, EDGE, Kansas State
- 3rd Round, 75th overall: Nathaniel Dell, WR, Houston
- 4th Round, 110th overall: Jaylon Jones, CB, Texas A&M
- 4th Round, 113th overall: Ivan Pace Jr., LB, Cincinnati
- 5th Round, 159th overall: Ronnie Hickman, S, Ohio State
- 7th Round, 224th overall: Keytaon Thompson, WR, Virginia
- 7th Round, 225th overall: Richard Gouraige, OT, Florida
- 7th Round, 245th overall: Mohamed Ibrahim, RB, Minnesota
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