Falcons Dueling Mock Draft: Beginning of a New Era

The Falcons have hit a new era. No more Julio Jones, no more Matt Ryan, Calvin Ridley is suspended for a year, and Foye Oluokun and Russell Gage have left in free agency. The roster is in the process of a long, drawn out overhaul. The Falcons have added some nice quality veteran free agents in guys like Casey Hayward and Lorenzo Carter but need more. So here we have some of the Falcons ATB contributors going at it to see who can create the best Falcons mock draft to kick-start the new era.

Hunter’s Falcons Mock Draft (@hthompsonNFL)

Pick 8: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pitt

I get it, this pick isn’t popular and I know quarterback is a bit of a sore subject at the moment. But hear me out at least. The Falcons can’t expect to compete with Mariota at quarterback. Pickett gives the Falcons a pro-ready QB who was a Heisman finalist in 2022.

He fits what Arthur Smith and the offense wants to do. Pickett is an accurate quarterback who posses the ability to run and pick apart the middle of the defense, perfect for what Smith wants between his time with Tannehill and Mariota in Tennessee.

Pick 43: Christian Watson, WR, NDSU

Yes, we have added a new franchise QB and now we are adding a future star at the wide position. There is a real possibility that Christian Watson isn’t here come draft day, but he was so I had to pick him over some other guys.

Watson is a freak athlete who is 6’4″ 208lbs and runs a 4.36. He is also a guy who can take over games and become a dominant freak as a WR1 for Atlanta. Watson is a YAC Daddy who creates explosive plays anytime the ball is in his hands. Bonus points that Watson has no fear as a blocker. Smith and company will love that.

Pick 58: Travis Jones, NT, UConn

The Falcons add another freak athlete here who can be an immediate plug-and-play within the defense. Yes, the Falcons re-signed Anthony Rush. Don’t let that stop you from getting better.

Travis Jones is a monster at the nose tackle spot and would pair very well with Grady Jarrett on the line. Jones is a powerful and fluid athlete who is a plug in the run game and can help collapse the pocket and free the edges and Grady.

Pick 74: James Cook, RB, UGA

The Falcons brought back Cordarrelle Patterson and added Damien Williams to the backfield, but neither is the future. James Cook would be the future-type of back for the Falcons. Cook is incredibly explosive with the ball in his hands as a runner and receiver and would thrive in Arthur Smith’s zone scheme.

Pick 82: Sam Williams, EDGE, Ole Miss

The Falcons are back to bolstering the defense with this pick of the mock draft. Ole Miss EDGE Sam Williams is a massive talent that I think is a steal here. He struggles a bit in run defense, but man his pass rush arsenal is NICE. Williams is a violent pass rusher who uses his variety of moves to generate pressure and create sacks. Williams ended the 2021 season with 12.5 sacks.

Pick 114: Brian Asamoah, LB, Oklahoma

The Falcons lost Foye Oluokun in free agency to the Jacksonville Jaguars and need to bolster the linebacker room. At the moment it looks like incumbents Deion Jones and Mykal Walker will be the starters, but it never hurts to gain a player to compete with him.

Brian Asamoah is a high energy player who has incredible sideline-to-sideline speed and could step into a special teams role early and develop into a potential starter.

Pick 151: Alex Wright, EDGE, UAB

Falcons double dip on EDGE here with UAB’s Alex Wright. The 6’7″ 260lbs freak is a long, powerful pass rusher who has the tools to potentially develop into a starter. He is similar to Ade Ogundeji in a lot of ways and can add depth to the Falcons EDGE group.

Wright isn’t necessarily a need, but he gives the Falcons another dart throw at the EDGE position, which has been lacking since 2014 when John Abraham left.

Pick 190: Cordell Volson, OT, NDSU

The Falcons have question marks across the offensive line. Former first round pick Kaleb McGary has had mixed reviews during his tenure in Atlanta, and here we have the Falcons drafting a tackle to hopefully push McGary. Or at least become a good swing tackle going forward.

Volson has a good frame at 6’6″ 315lbs and is a multi-year starter. The jump from talent might pose an issue for Volson because he isn’t a dominant athlete or have great technique, but he is a guy worth taking a flier on late who can potentially strengthen some OL depth.

Pick 213: Jordan Stout, P, Penn State

Yes, it’s a punter. The Falcons have been down bad at punter for awhile now, until the ageless wonder Thomas Morstead saved the special teams. As great as Morstead is, he is 36 and not getting any younger. So here the Falcons select Penn State Punt God, Jordan Stout.

Stout has a dominant leg that excels both in the punt game and the kickoff game. While at the Senior Bowl, we watched Stout blasting 75+ yard kickoffs out the back of the end zone into the stands in the pouring rain. And I know that might not be enough to convince some, but hitting a guy in the 6th round who might develop into the best at his position is always a win.

Damski’s Falcons Mock Draft (@Damski32)

Pick 8: Travon Walker, EDGE, UGA

Travon Walker offers massive upside and an athletic freak. I think he has a ways to go as a pass rusher, but the size, strength, and ability vs the run gives you a heck of an EDGE prospect year one.

Pick 43: Christian Watson, WR, NDSU

Christian Watson represents a lot of what Arthur Smith wants to do offensively. Good on crossers, can be a good deep ball wide receiver, and be a good YAC wide receiver. Heck of a pick for ATL here.

Pick 58: Christian Harris, LB, Alabama

Christian Harris is the perfect scheme fit for what Dean Pees wants to do defensively. Gap discipline, physical, and can give you something as a blitzer coming down hill. Love the player, love the fit. One pick that I do hope happens.

Pick 74: Travis Jones, NT, UConn

Travis Jones making it this far is wild, but I’m definitely all-in on him being the NT in our 3-man fronts. Dude is an ox and is super tough to move off the ball. I think he’d be a really good scheme fit, even in our under fronts!

Pick 82: Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC

Drake Jackson for me is a really good sleeper in this class. Flashes lots of bendiness, but also offers some above-average hand play. Combine him doing stunts off the EDGE with Jones, Grady Jarrett, and Walker and you got a ton of mismatches.

Pick 114: WanDale Robinson, WR, Kentucky

WanDale Robinson is just another weapon for the offense. A guy who can take the top off of a defense, but also be a contributor on screens and crossers. I think Robinson would be a fun wrinkle to the O for Arthur Smith

Pick 151: Jerome Ford, RB, Cincinnati

Jerome Ford is a physical runner from Cincy who is really good on one cut and go runs, has surprising speed in the open field, but does want to run through you. I think this late he represents really good value.

Pick 190: Issac Taylor-Stuart, CB, USC

Isaac Taylor-Stuart is an atheltic specimen at the cornerback position who has an incredible athletic profile. Taylor-Stuart is only going to go up from here at this point in his career. Definitely worth a flier at this point.

Pick 213: Charlie Kolar, TE, Iowa State

Charlie Kolar is a very standard TE. Solid blocker who doesn’t wow you with his physical traits. He uses his frame and size to work crossers and seams in the passing game. And his 6’6″ frame also helps Kolar become a major red zone threat.

Kenny G’s Falcons Mock Draft (@Gritz_Blitz)

Pick 8: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon

Have you heard that Kayvon is lazy, selfish, and a bad teammate? Blah, blah, blah. When I watch KT play, I see one of the few blue chip players in this class. He has an insane first step and a rare blend of physicality and athleticism. There’s double-digit sack potential written all over Thibodeaux. His ceiling is sky high, and the Falcons would select him with the idea that he’d be the face of the future defense.

Pick 43: Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota St.

6’4”, 208lbs, 4.36 40 yard dash. You sold yet? Christian Watson is one of the most explosive players in this draft class. He’s a complete receiver who has all the makings of a future number one target. Watson offers a lot of juice to the receiving corps, and could give Arthur Smith the big-play threat his offense so desperately needs.

Pick 58: Travis Jones, DT, UConn

Travis Jones is a mammoth of a man who can be the force in the middle of a defense for years to come. He’s got a club move that’ll knock you silly, and offers real pass rush upside not often found in players his size. He’d slide in as Dean Pees’ starting nose tackle and force opposing offenses to double him.

Pick 74: Leo Chenal, LB, Wisconsin

A thickly-built player who measured 6’2” and weighed in at 261lbs, Leo Chenal is one of the most physical linebackers I’ve seen in some time. He’s a sound tackler who’s quick to diagnose plays and shoots gaps like he’s being fired out of a cannon.

His run stuffing ability would be welcome in Atlanta after some of the LB play we saw last season. Chenal is a three down LB who’d be a leader on this team from day one.

Pick 82: James Cook, RB, Georgia

I wasn’t going to take a running back — until I imagined having both James Cook and Cordarrelle Patterson on the field at the same time. Selecting Cook gives the Falcons yet another versatile young play-maker. He can line up in the backfield, in the slot, or even out wide. James will find a way to make plays no matter what position he’s playing.

Pick 114: Sam Williams, EDGE, Ole Miss

Double dipping in this edge class offers so much potential for a team in dire need of a pass rush. Do you know what pairing Sam Williams with KT could do for our edge group? In the words of MJ, “The ceiling is the roof.”

Williams tested like a crazy athlete, running a 4.46 at 261lbs, and you see the burst on tape. Adding a pass rusher this explosive in the 4th round feels like tremendous value.

Pick 151: Coby Bryant, CB, Cincinnati

The Falcons need more help at corner, and while Bryant may be getting a bit overshadowed by Sauce, make no mistake: Coby can ball. The 2022 Thorpe Award winner has the size and athleticism to develop into a starter after playing behind Casey Hayward for a year or two.

Pick 190: Charlie Kolar, TE, Iowa State

The Falcons previously met with Charlie Kolar and attended his pro day. Atlanta needs tight end depth, and Kolar has potential to develop into a future Y tight end who can complement Pitts well. He’s a bit raw, but has great size, good hands, and is a willing blocker in the run game.

Pick 213: Tyquan Thornton, WR, Baylor

SPEED! You can’t have enough of it, and nobody offers more of it than Thornton. He ran a blazing 4.28 40-yard dash. He’s got a thin frame, but he’s tall and plays strong enough to beat press on the outside. Tyquan would be a legit deep threat from day one and has potential as a future starter.

Check out our previous Falcons mock draft pieces on atbnetwork.com and be sure to choose a winner for this version of dueling mocks!

Calvin Ridley suspended one year for gambling

Calvin Ridley’s 2022 season has ended before it began.

Ridley, the Atlanta Falcons star wide receiver, has been suspended for the entire 2022 NFL season.

Per reports from NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, the Falcons receiver was betting on games during the 2021 NFL Season. He will be eligible for reinstatement in February of 2023.

In the Garafolo report, he talks about how Ridley was gambling on NFL games in late November while Ridley was away from the team. To do such, he was using his cell phone to place parlay bets. Furthermore, a report by Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports confirmed something drastic: he bet on his own team.

In a statement made on the official team website, the Falcons stated: “We were first made aware of the league’s investigation on Feb. 9. We have cooperated fully with the investigation since receiving notice and support the league’s findings and actions. We are moving forward in the 2022 season with the decision that was made. With the decision that was made by the NFL, any further questions on the investigation should be directed to the league office.”

While teams were apparently contacting the Falcons for a trade, the team stayed put on the young man. Senior ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter also noted this was done in good faith knowing what was coming.

At first glance, this is a horrible look for the 27-year-old receiver out of Alabama. For one thing, gambling has been a problem in all sports, even with it becoming legalized throughout the country. However, not since the 1919 World Series has gambling involved an individual’s own team.

Calvin Ridley was already a controversial figure this past season for Atlanta fans, with the star choosing to opt out due to mental health issues that were occurring during the season. And now with news of a suspension, I can only imagine the star’s critics will continue to grow louder.

Atlanta Falcons Mock Draft: Post Senior Bowl

Atlanta Falcons Mock Draft
Image by Tom Pennington//Getty Images

Finally getting back into the Atlanta Falcons mock draft writing mood. After a week in Mobile at the Senior Bowl, I am running a seven round Atlanta Falcons mock draft! The Falcons are a team that don’t have much of a foundation and I attempt to fix that while still improving the roster all the way through.

Round 1 Pick 8: David Ojabo, EDGE Michigan

Falcons add a dominant EDGE prospect here. David Ojabo is incredibly athletic with great bend and power. He is also incredibly disruptive at the line of scrimmage. Ojabo is no where near his ceiling as he has only been playing football since his junior year of high school, so the sky is the limit. Ojabo has the potential to really develop into a menace for the Falcons and would give them a good cornerstone on defense.

Round 2 Pick 43: Desmond Ridder, QB Cincinnati

Desmond Ridder is a bit more of a controversial figure at the quarterback position. Some scouts and analysts love him, while others don’t. Ridder is here for a couple different reasons. First, he is heavily linked to the Falcons: read more here. Also, Ridder gives the Falcons a quarterback of the future on roster who can learn from Matt Ryan.

Ridder has some tools that should make him appealing: he has a solid arm, he can run and excels on bootlegs and plays out of the pocket. Ridder fits Atlanta schematically, and with the rumors flowing about Atlanta’s interest it makes sense here.

Round 2 Pick 58: Christian Watson, WR North Dakota State

Getting Christian Watson here is a major steal. The 6’4″ freak out of North Dakota State was one of the standouts at the Senior Bowl. If you go back on his tape, it’s obvious to see why. Watson is a gifted athlete who can really takeover games. He is a smooth route runner who can turn on the burners.

One big thing that should make Watson appealing to the Falcons is that he lacks no fear as a blocker. Watching some of his tape, he isn’t afraid to get down and dirty and block. Keep an eye out for Watson to really establish himself in the league.

Round 3 Pick 74: Isaiah Spiller, RB Texas A&M

Isaiah Spiller is one of my favorite running backs in the class, and would be a huge get here for Atlanta. Spiller is a powerful runner, who at 6’1″ 215lbs, could become the bell cow for the Falcons offense. Spiller feels like a good fit for the Arthur Smith offense as he demonstrates good vision and power.

Round 4 Pick 112: John Ridgeway, iDL Arkansas

Here we have the Falcons grabbing an interior defensive lineman. John Ridgeway is a mountain of a man at 6’4″ 327lbs who can be that nose tackle next to Grady Jarrett we have been missing since Dontari Poe. Grabbing a guy like Ridgeway would help free up our linebackers to hit running lanes and holes freely. Ridgeway has the ability to be a plug early, and transition into a more complete player throughout his career in Atlanta.

Round 5 Pick 150: Dominique Robinson, EDGE Miami (Ohio)

Added another EDGE here because the Falcons haven’t had any real semblance of a pass rush since John Abraham played for the Dirty Birds. Adding Robinson would give us another EDGE to compete with Adetokunbo Ogundeji and Ojabo (In this mock at least). Robinson is 6’4″ and 254lbs, so he doesn’t really lack in the size department. Robinson isn’t as refined as other prospects, but getting him here is a nice add to a team that needs all the pass rushing help it can get.

Round 6 Pick 188: Chase Lucas, CB Arizona State

Chase Lucas is a nice add here and is a guy I’ve been high on for a while now. He does everything pretty well. He is a solid tackler, not afraid to be a force in the run game, and is good in zone coverage. Lucas is also an experienced starter. My biggest question is how much higher Lucas could get in terms of level of play. Adding Lucas here gives the Falcons some solid outside cornerback depth and even a potential starter to play opposite of Terrell.

Round 6 Pick 211: Jordan Stout, P Penn State

Punters are people too and deserve to be drafted. Jordan Stout was one of the best players in Mobile as a punter. His kickoffs in the rain were blasting out of the end zone and into the bleachers during practice. He kicked a massive bomb during the Senior Bowl game itself that went 63 yards. The Falcons had issues at punter the past couple of seasons and Stout would resolve that issue for the Dirty Birds.

What did you think of this Atlanta Falcons mock draft? Let us know on Twitter! @falcons_atb

Senior Bowl Rumors: Falcons Edition

QB Desmond Ridder is a hot name in Atlanta Falcons rumors
Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Last week I had the opportunity to go down to Mobile, Alabama for the Reese’s Senior Bowl. I had the opportunity to meet tons of super cool, and plugged in, people out in the practices and out in other networking opportunities. But at the Senior Bowl things get leaked and rumors start swirling. So, naturally, I decided to take advantage of the rumors that were floating around about our Atlanta Falcons. Here they are! Enjoy and feel free to believe whichever you want.

Falcons are in on Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder:

This might be one of the hotter rumors, but there are reasons to potentially believe this one. While in Mobile, one of the biggest rumors of the week was that the Atlanta Falcons were in on QB Desmond Ridder. Ridder has most draft analysts split on how to value him. But there are a couple reasons to believe this link.

One reason is that Ridder himself compared his style of play to Ryan Tannehill and attempts to model his game after him. Tannehill had the best seasons of his career under Arthur Smith, who could see Ridder as a similar type of quarterback to fit the offense.

Another big piece of this evidence comes from this tweet from Luke Fickell. While at the Senior Bowl, Arthur Smith was seen on the field talking with Coach Fickell next to the quarterbacks and wide receivers. Could it have just been a talk of all the players? Sure. But while this rumor was floating around that was happening.

UPDATE: Confirmed that Ridder did talk to the Falcons from Falcoholic Kevin

Falcons are in on Florida RB Dameon Pierce:

This was an Atlanta Falcons rumor I heard around the end of the week. Florida RB Dameon Pierce is a very powerful runner with his 5’9″ 220lbs frame. Pierce is very similar runner stylistically to what Falcons fans hoped Mike Davis would bring.

Adding Pierce would be one step closer to the Falcons establishing an identity on offense. Plus, after passing on Javonte Williams last season, Pierce could mend that bridge with some fans as he would give the Falcons a real bruiser out of the backfield.

Falcons are targeting a WR:

This Atlanta Falcons rumor comes first hand. Each day during the Senior Bowl during the National Team practice, you’d see a combination of Arthur Smith, offensive coordinator Dave Ragone, and another staff member eyeballing the wide receivers. This group for the National team had Christian Watson, Alec Pierce, Romeo Doubs, Khalil Shakir and others.

Watson had one of the best weeks of any player in Mobile and I hope that is who the Falcons could be targeting. But it seemed incredibly obvious about us targeting a wide receiver. Maybe even multiple ones.

Falcons want an EDGE or WR Early

I talked to one source about the Falcons and they said: “The Falcons will probably go with either a game changing EDGE or YAC Daddy wide receiver early.”

The two names that come to mind for me are David Ojabo, the EDGE from Michigan, and Treylon Burks, the wide receiver from Arkansas. Neither name has been super loved by fans when talking about potential picks, but both are worthy of that first pick for the Falcons.

David Ojabo Scouting Report: A Potential Falcons Selection

Could Ojabo be the Falcons’ first-round selection?

I’m starting a series for Falcons ATB where we will take a look at possible draft prospects who could be great fits for the franchise. To start off the series, I’ll be taking a look and giving a brief scouting report on Michigan EDGE, David Ojabo.

Who is he?

David Ojabo was a 4 Star recruit out of high school who attended the University of Michigan. Ojabo lived in Nigeria until he was 7, moved to Scotland, and then the US when he was 17. When he moved to the States, he initially played basketball before playing football as a junior year in high school. Ojabo became a star this season at Michigan, helping carry them into the CFB Playoffs and a Big 10 title. Furthermore, he formed the best pass rush duo in football with him and Aidan Hutchinson.

Why should we target him?

The Falcons are a team that need an injection of talent in so many areas throughout the roster. Ojabo with his 6’5″ 250lb frame would be a blue chip talent for the Falcons to build around on defense. The Falcons have lacked a dominant pass rusher since the John Abraham era came to an end in 2012. You could argue for Vic Beasley in 2016, but that was a fluke in my eyes.

Ojabo would be able to be an immediate plug and play player in the Dean Pees defense that would ask him to do all kinds of different schematic things. I would like to assume that Ojabo would fill in the Steven Means role, which means he would be asked to drop into coverage, rush the passer, set the EDGE, etc. He would fill a crucial piece in Dean Pees multiple front defense that the Falcons run.

What does he bring?

Ojabo is a dominant EDGE prospect who is an incredible athlete who is still raw to the position. He brings a motor that always runs hot and is always putting in effort. Ojabo would give the Falcons a ball of clay with endless upside at EDGE for the multi-look front that Dean Pees loves to run.

The Michigan product displays good strength at the Point of Attack and has shown promise with his ability to set the edge. Ojabo uses his freakish athleticism to really dominant against opposing OT’s with elite bend and strength to constantly change up how he attacks the opposing OL.

In terms of his moves as a pass rusher, Ojabo brings an assortment of pass rush moves featuring a strong euro step combined with a rip. The young pass rusher is adding to his pass rush arsenal and is working with renowned DL Coach Eddie McGilvera to help get himself pro ready.

I think Ojabo would be able to walk in and get immediate playing time in this weak Falcons front seven.

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