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The 2022 NFL draft is a long ways away, but the Atlanta Falcons‘ 1-3 start hasn’t given fans much confidence in this year’s team. If the season ended today, the Falcons would pick fifth overall and have their choice of blue-chip talent just like in 2021.
Draft Wire’s Luke Easterling dropped a new three-round mock draft which has Atlanta passing on a quarterback early to address other needs. Here’s a look at all four picks in Draft Wire’s latest mock.
Pick No. 5: EDGE Aidan Hutchinson - Michigan
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Size: 6-foot-6, 265 lbs
Stats: 18 tackles (14 solo), 4.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble
Analysis: This pick makes a lot of sense as the Falcons are desperately in need of an edge rusher that can pressure opposing quarterbacks. Dante Fowler has been solid so far this season, but aside from him, there’s no other pass-rushing threat on the roster. Hutchinson has excelled this season as Michigan’s undefeated start has largely been a byproduct of a really talented defense. This 2022 quarterback class is nowhere near as talented at the top as last year’s, so it makes sense to address what is perhaps the team’s biggest need in round one.
Highlights: vs. Washington
Pick No. 36: OT Jaxson Kirkland - Washington
Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports
Size: 6-foot-7, 310 lbs
Analysis: With the exception of right guard Chris Lindstrom, the Falcons have struggled along the interior of their offensive line. At the tackle spots, the team isn’t as stable as you might think, though. Kaleb McGary has been up and down thus far at right tackle. Jake Matthews remains a steady presence at left tackle, however, the team may want to invest in a cheaper option. Drafting Kirkland would provide the team with immediate competition at right tackle in 2022, and a potential long-term option at left tackle.
Highlights: vs. Stanford (No. 51 playing left tackle)
Pick No. 52: QB Desmond Ridder - Cincinnati
(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Size: 6-foot-5, 215 lbs
Stats: 1,045 passing yards, 9 TDs, 2 INTs; 98 rushing yards, 3 TDs
Analysis: The Cincinnati Bearcats are 4-0 behind the arm of quarterback Desmond Ridder, whose four years of starting experience will pay off well in the NFL. Ridder is mobile enough to avoid pressure in the pocket but has really improved as a passer this season. With Matt Ryan in place for another season at least, Ridder would be a good option to sit behind the former MVP QB and learn Arthur Smith’s system.
Highlights: vs. Notre Dame
Pick No. 67: S Bubba Bolden - Miami (FL)
(AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)
Size: 6-foot-3, 204 lbs
Stats: 34 tackles (20 solo), 2 passes defended
Analysis: Atlanta’s defense has shown flashes under DC Dean Pees, but not nearly enough consistency. The secondary is low on top-end talent. Even if second-round pick Richie Grant’s future is promising, he hasn’t seen the field much this season. Erik Harris and Duron Harmon clearly aren’t long-term answers. Miami’s Bubba Bolden has a big frame and would immediately provide depth at the strong safety spot.
Highlights: vs. Clemson