The Atlanta Falcons are locked into the No. 8 overall pick again in 2023, but after selecting offensive skill position players in back-to-back drafts, many expect the team to focus on defense in the first round this year.
In our first mock draft since the 2022 season ended, we add an explosive edge rusher out of Texas Tech and a potential No. 2 wide receiver for quarterback Desmond Ridder.
Check out our full seven-round mock draft below.
Round 1 (8): EDGE Tyree Wilson - Texas Tech
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The Falcons continue to rank among the bottom of the NFL in terms of sacks. Arnold Ebiketie is a promising young talent, but by pairing him with a more physical player like Texas Tech’s Tyree Wilson, the team would have the makings of a formidable pass rush. The 6-foot-6, 275-pound Wilson recorded eight sacks, 32 hurries and 10 QB hits in 2022. He can play on the edge and is versatile enough to kick inside.
Round 2 (44): WR Rashee Rice - SMU
(AP Photo/Gareth Patterson)
Rashee Rice is tall, fast and one of the most productive receivers in college football. In his final season at SMU, Rice racked up 96 catches for 1,344 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns on 14.0 yards per reception. Drake London is the clear No. 1 wideout in Atlanta, but Rice would step in as a capable No. 2 option for this Falcons offense right away. Beyond London, Atlanta is fairly thin at the wide receiver position.
Round 3 (75): OT Dawand Jones - Ohio State
(AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
Jones started at right tackle for one of the top college football programs in the country and he could be a perfect replacement if the team loses Kaleb McGary in free agency. McGary had a strong season and while he could potentially return, he may not want to after the team declined his fifth-year option. Jones earned an 86.5 overall grade from Pro Football Focus in 2022, while allowing zero sacks for the Buckeyes.
Round 4 (110): CB Kyu Blu Kelly - Stanford
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Kyu Blu Kelly is a CB prospect who some think could go in the second round, while others see him as a third- or fourth-round pick. Kelly allowed 22 catches on 42 targets for Stanford last season. The 6-foot-1 defensive back played primarily on the outside in college, recording two career interceptions for the Cardinal. At pick 110, Kelly would offer good value and could provide depth behind A.J. Terrell and Casey Hayward.
Round 4 (113): DL Zacch Pickens - South Carolina
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The Falcons released Anthony Rush and Marlon Davidson during the season, and this team was already thin on the interior of the defensive line. Pickens is a 6-foot-4, 305-pound defensive tackle from South Carolina who excels as a pass-rusher. Atlanta has a few quality rotational guys, but Pickens has more upside to develop into a potential starter than anyone else currently on the roster. He has played both the nose tackle position and the 3-tech in college.
Round 5 (145): RB Eric Gray - Oklahoma
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Another running back in the fifth round would make a ton of sense for Atlanta. Tyler Allgeier has established himself as the bell-cow back, but Oklahoma’s Eric Gray could be a great No. 2 option as the team looks to rely less on veteran Cordarrelle Patterson. Gray rushed for 1,374 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2022, while adding 34 catches for 238 receiving yards. The former Sooners RB would be a good third-down option for the Falcons.
Round 6 (184): TE Josh Whyle - Cincinnati
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In this scenario, Desmond Ridder gets to reunite with his former college teammate as the Falcons draft Cincinnati tight end Josh Whyle in the sixth round. Whyle went over 300 receiving yards in three straight seasons, but his production went down a touch without Ridder at QB this season. Still, Whyle is a good all-around tight end prospect who Arthur Smith could develop.
Round 7 (224): LB SirVocea Dennis - Pittsburgh
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Last but not least, Pittsburgh’s SirVocea Dennis is too valuable to pass up here in the seventh round. As a senior, Dennis earned an elite PFF grade of 90.6. He is outstanding against the run and can hold his own in pass coverage. The Falcons have some quality players at inside linebacker, but Dennis would provide some more depth at the position.