2022 NFL mock draft: Falcons pick Iowa center, FSU edge rusher

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With three of the first 60 picks in the 2022 NFL draft, the Atlanta Falcons should be able to find a few immediate contributors for next season. In terms of roster needs, almost every position could use an upgrade, or at least a serious infusion of depth.

Using the Pro Football Focus mock draft simulator, we made all nine of the Falcons’ picks, while trying to maintain general manager Terry Fontenot‘s best-player-available philosophy.

Round 1 (8): IOL Tyler Linderbaum - Iowa

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When you see who’s available at No. 8, Linderbaum makes sense because he’s a top-10 talent who can step in right away, while also providing long-term stability at a crucial position. Center was an issue for Atlanta last season following Alex Mack’s departure. Matt Hennessy, the team’s third-round pick in 2020, had a tough time taking over for Mack.

Round 2 (40): EDGE Jermaine Johnson II - FSU

(AP Photo/Butch Dill)

The Falcons have needed a productive edge rusher for some time, and with Dante Fowler Jr. likely on his way out, Florida State’s Jermaine Johnson has the tools to potentially be that long-term answer. After a productive Senior Bowl performance that wowed NFL scouts, Johnson’s stock is climbing around the league.

Round 2 (58): DB Jalen Pitre - Baylor

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Pitre is another player that had a solid showing at the Senior Bowl. The Baylor safety does a lot of things well and would give Dean Pees another versatile chess piece that’s both physical and solid in pass coverage. Atlanta drafted Richie Grant in the second round last year, but he struggled early and played better after moving to the nickel spot later in the season.

Round 3 (72): WR Jalen Tolbert - South Alabama

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This 6-foot-3, 190-pound speedster has both the explosiveness and catch radius to make the NFL leap successfully. Wide receiver is obviously a huge need for the Falcons — and potentially their biggest with Calvin Ridley’s uncertain future. Tolbert was a stud at South Alabama, averaging 18 yards per catch with 1,474 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in 2021.

Round 4 (110): RB James Cook - Georgia

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Georgia fans don’t need to be reminded of Cook’s value after the running played a key role in the team’s National Championship run. The brother of Vikings running back Dalvin Cook, James has a lot of the same attributes as a runner. With elite top-end speed, Cook could be a nice change-of-pace back and weapon on third downs, especially if the team loses Cordarrelle Patterson in free agency.

Round 5 (148): DL Neil Farrell Jr. - LSU

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The Falcons have needs at more than just the edge position on defense. Grady Jarrett is a force, but few other defensive linemen on this roster did a whole lot in 2021. In the fifth round, we have Atlanta grabbing LSU’s Neil Farrell Jr., a powerful nose tackle that can also rush the passer.

Round 6 (186): OT Logan Bruss - Wisconsin

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Versatile, tough and a good zone blocker, Wisconsin’s Logan Bruss could provide depth at three positions. He played right tackle in 2021 after spending 2020 at guard. Bruss is a more than a capable run blocker and while he isn’t great in pass protection, the Badgers lineman hasn’t allowed a sack in two seasons.

Round 6 (217): RB Kennedy Brooks - Oklahoma

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Brooks is coming off a wildly productive season for Oklahoma in 2021, finishing with 1,255 rushing yards on 6.4 yards per carry and 13 touchdowns. Even after drafting a lightning quick back like Cook earlier, Brooks brings more of a power-running style that Arthur Smith could utilize well in Atlanta’s offense.

Round 7 (225): S Markquese Bell - Florida A&M

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At this point, you just want someone that can add depth and hopefully has a little upside. The Falcons would be getting that and then some with Bell. With both Duron Harmon and Erik Harris potentially on the way out, Atlanta needs bodies at defensive back.

Draft recap