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Atlanta Falcons Draft Preview

Atlanta is moving beyond the extreme burden of contracts from yesteryear, hitting fast-forward on a roster rebuild moving into the next phase.

The Falcons won seven games without an established starting quarterback, moving on late in the season from Marcus Mariota.

Head coach Arthur Smith and general manager Terry Fontenot signaled contentedness with rookie Desmond Ridder as QB1 last season, but they have been active on the pro day and pre-draft circuit with prospects at the position. Smith is a dyed-in-the-wool devotee to power football, borne of his coaching upbringing under Joe Gibbs and more recently the ground-and-pound Tennessee Titans. Fontenot went offense in the top 10 the past two drafts — tight end Kyle Pitts and wide receiver Drake London — and the Falcons could be fixed on repairing their pass rush.

Whether he’s pleased enough with a backfield of 2022 rookies Ridder and Tyler Allgeier to pass on a rare talent at running back — Texas bellcow RB Bijan Robinson — at No. 8 is a key question in this draft. And could Fontenot pass on a falling defensive blue-chipper if the traffic jam chasing a quarterback leaves a top cornerback or pass rusher available at No. 8?

The pleasant conundrum for the Falcons could be finding the top players at numerous positions — defensive tackle, wide receiver, offensive tackle, cornerback, running back, linebacker, safety and guard — sitting there when they are officially on the clock.

TEAM NEEDS CB: Depth and quality became concerns for the Falcons last season. Casey Hayward and A.J. Terrell are still around. Getting a younger, elite-level cover corner at No. 8 is tempting.

WR: London landed on his feet as a rookie even without a capable downfield passer and instability in the running game after Cordarrelle Patterson’s injury. If the Falcons’ top-rated wideout is available, the pick makes sense even after signing receivers Mack Hollins and Scotty Miller as free agents.

Offensive line: Jake Matthews was a first-rounder way back in 2014. While the 31-year-old is back at left tackle, he could be an option to slide to the other side in this scheme depending on the personnel available. Offensive guard and right tackle remain trouble spots.

2023 DRAFT PICKS Round Pick (Overall pick) 1. 8 (8) 2. 13 (44) 3. 12 (75) 4. 8 (110) 4. 11 (113) 5. 24 (159) 7. 7 (224) 7. 8 (225)

BEST FITS 1. TCU WR Quentin Johnston: A 4.46 40 time at his pro day and yards of film backing up the game speed to match make Johnston tempting as a downfield playmaker and matchup concern defensive coordinators would have to account for, while also checking Pitts and London. Atlanta did a lot of work on wide receivers prior to the draft. Peeking at cheaper, later-round options such as Michigan State’s Jayden Reed, is always in play.

2. Florida OG O’Cyrus Torrence: Torrence spent time with the Falcons before his pro day in Gainesville and said they also chatted between the Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine. This one smacks of Falcons’ flavor. Power personified, Torrence is a 350-pounder with a nasty mean streak, the type of tone-setter Smith wants on his front five.

3. Northwestern edge Adetomiwa Adebawore: Defensive tackle or defensive end, what matters with Adebawore is speed. He can shift around the front four and jumped out at the Senior Bowl and combine (4.49 40-yard dash).

–Field Level Media


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