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The 2022 NFL draft is just two weeks away and there’s still no clear indication of what the Falcons are going to do at pick No. 8. With plenty of options at edge rusher, wide receiver and cornerback, many are wondering if Atlanta will instead add a quarterback in round one.
In our latest seven-round mock draft, the Falcons take the best player available in the first round and add a new quarterback in the second.
Round 1: Pick 8 | CB Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati
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Is Ahmad Gardner filling the biggest hole for the Falcons? No. In fact, the team signed Casey Hayward and now have two solid starters at the cornerback position. However, when you’re picking No. 8, and you have many holes to fill, you take the best player available, and Gardner was the guy. Plus, the addition of Hayward means the team won’t be forced to start Gardner right away.
Round 2: Pick 43 | QB Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati
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In my last mock draft, the Falcons didn’t take a quarterback. However, that was before the team traded Matt Ryan to the Colts for a third-round pick. Atlanta doesn’t know what it has in Marcus Mariota yet, but the team can’t afford to wait around until next year to find out. The quarterback position is too important in the NFL to not have a clear long-term plan. As with the Gardner pick in round one, Ridder wouldn’t have to start right away with Mariota in the picture. The Cincinnati signal-caller would be a great value in round two.
Round 2: Pick 58 | EDGE Logan Hall, Houston
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Taken with the pick acquired in the Julio Jones trade, Logan Hall is a player who could compete with Ade Ogundeji at outside linebacker right away. While Hall isn’t a guy who scouts project to be a consistent starter in his first year, considering the team’s lack of difference-makers along the edge, Atlanta can afford to let Hall develop.
Round 3: Pick 74 | WR David Bell, Purdue
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Since parting ways with Julio Jones, the team has lacked a true X receiver. Purdue’s David Bell is someone who could potentially fill this role. At 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, Bell can freeze defensive backs when they try to press, while also using his body to create separation downfield. In 2021, Bell had 93 catches for 1,286 receiving yards and six touchdowns.
Round 3: Pick 82 | WR Alec Pierce, Cincinnati
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I’ve already drafted two Bearcats from Cincinnati, why not add another? Pierce, who also identifies as an X receiver, could be better suited as someone who plays the No. 2 role. At six-foot-three, Pierce would give Atlanta another big target for whoever ends up starting at quarterback.
Round 4: Pick 114 | IOL Ed Ingram, LSU
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At the start of day three, the Falcons finally add some competition to their offensive line. It also let’s second-year guard Jalen Mayfield the chance to keep his job. As easy as it is to criticize Mayfield’s rookie year, he was forced into a starting role due to injury. Adding Ingram can reinforce the idea of competition and hopefully, help improve Atlanta’s abysmal pass protection.
Round 5: Pick 151 | HB Jerome Ford, Cincinnati
At this point, the team might consider changing its name to Atlanta Bearcats. However, it is not a bad idea to bring in players with an already established connection. I like the idea of building the offense around a few key pieces who have experience playing together. As for Ford himself, the Falcons already have a loaded backfield, but it doesn’t seem likely they will carry everyone into the season. Ford is another guy who the team could use to take reps in the preseason and land on the practice squad.
Round 6: Pick 190 | EDGE Dominique Robinson, Miami (OH)
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This is where you start to find camp bodies to create competition and hope that you find someone who can give you reps as a rotational player. Considering how poor the Falcons have been along the edge, Dominique Robinson is a guy who will bring that competitive fire to the position. Not to mention, Robinson is athletic enough to show blitz and drop into coverage with ease.
Round 6: Pick 213 | TE Austin Allen, Nebraska
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After signing Anthony Firkser, the Falcons have solidified the tight end position and can avoid drafting one early. It never hurts to add competition late in the draft, though. Allen had 38 catches for 602 yards and two touchdowns last season at Nebraska.