Author Archives: Hunter Thompson

About Hunter Thompson

NFL and NFL Draft Analyst, Avid Falcons fan, and lover of all things football.

Atlanta Falcons Mock Draft

Atlanta Falcons Mock Draft: Final Edition

Ladies and gentlemen, the final Atlanta Falcons mock draft is finally here. In this final mock, I traded the eighth pick for picks 17 and 49 from the Pittsburgh Steelers. I normally don’t trade back, but rumors of the Falcons being willing to for minimal gain made this happen. As always, enjoy the mock, give me feedback, and thanks to for their simulator.

Pick 17: Bijan Robinson RB | Texas

The Falcons trade back and still land one of the most explosive players in the NFL Draft in running back Bijan Robinson from Texas. Bijan is widely considered to be the top running back prospect since Saquon Barkley. His blend of speed, power, and explosiveness would be the perfect addition to Arthur Smith’s offense and the perfect piece to help take pressure off of young quarterback Desmond Ridder.

Pick 44: Cody Mauch IOL | North Dakota State

Senior Bowl standout Cody Mauch is the spiritual descendant of current Broncos offensive lineman Quinn Meinerz who the Falcons chose to pass on for guard Jalen Mayfield. Terry Fontenot and company won’t make that mistake again.

Mauch is an agile, athletic offensive lineman who can hit the second level and cause chaos. He feels like a natural for Arthur Smith’s zone blocking scheme which is in need of a left guard after Elijah Wilkinson left Atlanta in free agency.

Pick 49: Adetomiwa Adebawore DT | Northwestern

When the Falcons signed veteran Calais Campbell, it felt inevitable that they would draft a younger lineman to learn from him and current star Grady Jarrett. I feel like it would be Jalen Carter if he falls, but he didn’t in this mock, so I pivoted to star Northwestern lineman, Adetomiwa Adebawore. A Senior Bowl standout and NFL Combine warrior, he ran a 4.49 forty yard dash at 6’2 289lbs and also hit 27 bench press reps.

Adebawore is a versatile chess piece on the defensive front who is incredibly powerful and has an explosive first step. He’d be a huge asset in Atlanta to with Jarrett and Campbell.

Pick 75: Tyler Scott WR | Cincinnati

A rumor I have been hearing is that Atlanta is very high on the former Bearcats receiver, and it makes sense. Tyler Scott is an explosive receiver who can take the top off of defenses for Atlanta and also has previous experience with Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder from their time at Cincinnati together.

With Ridder, Scott contributed for 520 yards and 5 TD’s on 30 receptions, and only got better this season while in a more featured role for the Bearcats with a statline of 899 yards and 9 TD’s on 54 receptions. And if that type of production doesn’t wow you, did I mention he runs a 4.44 forty and was on Bruce Feldman’s Freak List?

Pick 110: Josh Whyle | Cincinnati

Is it really an Arthur Smith draft if we don’t draft a tight end? Similar to Scott, Whyle has a familiarity with Desmond Ridder from their time at Cincinnati. And Whyle also happened to be on Feldman’s Freak List. But Whyle offers so much offensive weaponry for Arthur Smith to play with. He is athletic enough to be moved around the offense in a variety of roles: H-back, traditional tigh tend, flex him wide, and can play as a F-back.

Whyle has been a candidate to break out for what feels like a long time, but here in Atlanta, Arthur Smith would be able to maximize his unique physical traits to be a key piece of the puzzle.

Pick 113: Jammie Robinson S | Florida State

Florida State safety Jammie Robinson is an absolute steal here and would give the Falcons flexibility to play their best secondary. The Florida State product is a firey player who would bring a swagger to the defense that we have been missing for a long time. He has a nose for being around the ball and could give the Falcons ways to create lots of new and creative packages and looks on the backend.

Jammie was a star at Florida State and even has SEC experience from his time at South Carolina, when he was a Second Team Freshman All American. Furthermore, he’s a Georgia native, which the Falcons front office seems to value heavily.

Pick 224: Stetson Bennett IV QB | Georgia

The Falcons grab Georgia quarterback and National Champion Stetson Bennett IV, Bennett is an athletic quarterback with a below average arm who is an experienced starter and title winner.

He is very reminiscent of current Falcons backup, Taylor Heinicke. Stetson is picked here to sit on the practice squad for a season and then give Atlanta the potential to move on from Heinicke in the future and save some cap space.

Pick 225: McClendon Curtis OT | Chattanooga

I wholeheartedly believe that McClendon Curtis will not actually be available, but he was in the simulator and I couldn’t resist. Curtis is a massive bear of a man weighing in at 6’6, 324lbs and 35″ arms. He is incredibly raw as a player and needs a lot of work to develop into a quality backup, but his frame and position versatility is worth picking here.

If Arthur Smith and Ledford are able to get their hands on Curtis, I feel like they’ll be able to turn him into a quality backup and maybe even get him to a starter level one day.

Atlanta Falcons Mock Draft

Atlanta Falcons Mock Draft Post FA Edition

It’s time for a brand new Atlanta Falcons mock draft! The Falcons have been making massive splashes throughout the early parts of free agency. They added superstar free agent Jessie Bates III, veteran defensive tackle David Onyemata, re-signed Kaleb McGary, and added fun backup quarterback Taylor Heinicke. After seeing what the Falcons have done so far, it felt like the perfect time to drop a mock draft. So here we go:

(Used for this mock.)

Alabama EDGE Will Anderson, the first pick in this Atlanta Falcons mock draft
Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Pick 8: Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama

The Falcons made some massive moves on defense throughout free agency. The only piece that they seemed to need is adding to the pass rush. Luckily for the Falcons, the best EDGE in the class falls to them at 8. Anderson would step into the edge role opposite of last year’s second-round pick, Arnold Ekebetie, and should create one of the best young pass rush duos in the league.

Pick 44: Tyler Scott, WR, Cincinnati

Word on the street is the Falcons are enamored with Bearcats receiver Tyler Scott. Scott would bring massive big play ability and some familiarity with Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder. Scott doesn’t fall into the “big receiver” type that Arthur Smith historically loves, but he is a converted running back to wide receiver, which would give Smith another massive weapon for the offense.

Pick 75: Darius Rush, CB, South Carolina

Atlanta added a new defensive backs coach in Jerry Gray and a new defensive coordinator in Ryan Nielsen. Part of me has to assume that they will get to pick some of “their guys” in the draft to help lay the foundation of a new and improved defense.

Darius Rush would give the Falcons another good, young corner to play opposite of star corner AJ Terrell. Rush is a longer, more physical corner who plays with great anticipation and awareness. Most of the work he needs are lower body mechanics, which Gray can hopefully fix.

Pick 110: Kenny McIntosh, RB, Georgia

The Falcons already have a “thunder” in current running back Tyler Allgeier; all they have to acquire is the “lightning”. Georgia running back Kenny McIntosh can be that. McIntosh is an explosive back who could step in and be a weapon on passing downs for the Falcons. As current fan favorite Cordarrelle Patterson gets older, McIntosh offers an immediate replacement who brings the same energy and explosiveness out of the backfield.

Pick 113: KJ Henry, EDGE, Clemson

In this mock draft, the Atlanta Falcons double dip at the EDGE position. Clemson pass rusher KJ Henry is a high character player who could hopefully add some juice to a pass rushing unit that severely lacks the ability to create sacks. Henry is a multi-scheme defender who can be used in a variety of ways and would hopefully elevate the back end of the Falcons EDGE room.

Pick 159: McClendon Curtis, OL, Chattanooga

McClendon Curtis is a mountain of a man, coming in at 6’6″ 324 lbs from Chattanooga. Curtis has experience starting at both guard and tackle in college. He has the arms of a tackle and the footwork of a guard, which is what makes him such a tough evaluation. Curtis is a traits-based pick at this point with hope that he could develop into a quality lineman one day.

At this point in the mock, it felt like a nice upside swing pick for an offensive line that has been wildly inconsistent over the past few seasons.

Pick 224: DJ Dale, iDL, Alabama

The Falcons have added to their defensive line with David Oneymata in free agency, but they could benefit from having a second defensive line plug on roster to help free up Grady Jarrett and Ta’Quon Graham to rush the passer. DJ Dale is a stocky 6’1″ 302 lbs defensive tackle who plays bigger than he is. However, even though he plays bigger than he is, his size still gets him into some issues with him being walled off fairly easily.

Pick 225: Dorian Thompson-Robinson, QB, UCLA

UCLA star quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson has been one of the most electric players in college football the past couple of seasons. He is the definition of a dual-threat quarterback. He can make plays through the air and on the ground, as he just dominates most of UCLA’s quarterback records.

DTR could provide some fun wrinkles for Arthur Smith to include into the offense. I think at worst, DTR would become a fun gadget guy in a similar mold as Feleipe Franks. At best, DTR would be a perfect number two quarterback behind new Falcons starter Desmond Ridder.

What do you think of this Atlanta Falcons mock draft? Let Hunter know at @hthompsonFB on Twitter!

Atlanta Falcons Mock Draft

Dueling Mocks: Atlanta Falcons Mock Draft

Atlanta Falcons mock draft
Photo Credit: Jon Durr – Getty Images

Hunter’s Falcons Mock Draft (@hthompsonFB)

After the whole Lamar Jackson conversations on Twitter we decided to to take a breather from that and just talk NFL draft. Today, Falcons Around the Block contributors Hunter Thompson and Saivion Mixson go toe to toe in an Atlanta Falcons mock draft duel. Let us know who won over @Falcons_atb on Twitter!

Pick 8: CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State

After choosing not to pursue Lamar Jackson this offseason, I have the Falcons kicking off my mock draft by taking my number one quarterback in the draft. Ohio State’s CJ Stroud is incredibly accurate, poised, and can be the superstar point guard that this offense needs to achieve new heights.

Pick 44: John Michael Schmitz, C, Minnesota

Drew Dalman was fine this past season, but he had his fair share of issues. For me, adding a franchise quarterback and a starting center in the same draft is too good to pass up. John Michael Schmitz would fit Arthur Smith’s zone blocking scheme to a T and should be able to build long-term chemistry with both Chris Lindstrom and our QB of the future. Oh, he is also the best center in this draft — so that is a bonus.

Pick 75: Zach Harrison, EDGE, Ohio State

New Falcons defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen has a type at EDGE, with what seems to be bigger bodied guys being his preference. Zach Harrison fits that mold at 6’5″ 274lbs. Harrison could be used in a variety of ways across this defensive line as Ryan Nielsen looks to give it any sort of pulse going forward.

Pick 110: Julius Brents, CB, Kansas State

Julius Brents is a Senior Bowl standout who could be enticing for Ryan Nielsen and new defensive backs coach Jerry Gray. Brents and his 6’3″ frame tested very well at the NFL Combine, with a vert of 41.5″ and a broad jump of 11’6″. Those traits could are too enticing for the new defensive staff to pass up on in the fourth round of this Falcons mock draft.

Pick 113: Zacch Pickens, DL, South Carolina

Grady Jarrett can’t do it all by himself from the interior this season. Zacch Pickens is a guy who could be a good rotational piece with Ta’Quon Graham to help complement Grady and keep the defensive line refreshed. Pickens is a 4-year starter for South Carolina’s defense and got better each season. He has a powerful first step that can really disrupt opposing offensive lines.

Pick 161: Jadon Haselwood, WR, Arkansas

Jadon Haselwood falls into that category of “players from Georgia” that Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith have been talking about. Plus they witnessed his ability first hand at the Shrine Bowl. Haselwood is a possession receiver who never truly broke onto the scene in college, but his frame and skillset could provide a nice piece opposite of Drake London and help chunk away at opposing defenses.

Pick 226: Warren McClendon, OT, Georgia

The Falcons choosing not to tag right tackle Kaleb McGary makes me a little wary of what they could be doing at the position, which is why I grabbed Warren McClendon here. McClendon is a solid lineman who lacks some of the athleticism to be a star, but could develop into a strong swing tackle — or even future starter.

Pick 247: Zack Kuntz, TE, Old Dominion

Is it really an Arthur Smith draft without drafting a tight end? As weird as it sounds, the Falcons could really benefit from upgrading the TE2 spot. Kuntz is a physical specimen with a 6’7″, 255lb frame who tested the best of any TE at the combine this season. He has a lot of work to do in polishing his game, but this late it just feels like a move we would make.

Saivion’s Mock (@MixsonS_NFL)

Pick 8: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois

My FAVORITE cornerback to pair with AJ Terrell. This would lock up the cornerback position for years to come in Atlanta. Do I need to say more?

Pick 44: Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama

You can’t simply pass up running backs like Jahmyr Gibbs. An Alvin Kamara-type of back who is more than comfortable receiving in the slot. He would add yet another weapon for the quarterback of the future of this franchise.

Pick 75: Keeanu Benton, iDL, Wisconsin

The interior defensive lineman from Wisconsin is one of Chuck Smith’s protege’s from this draft cycle. You can bet that he will be more than ready to come into camp and add his pass rush chops to a defense begging for help getting to the quarterback.

Pick 110: Andrew Voorhees, iOL, USC

THIRTY EIGHT BENCHPRESS REPS. Now, the ACL tear may cause the Trojan lineman to slide some, but his strength makes his potential as a cornerstone of this Falcons offensive line worth it.

Pick 113: Jayden Reed, WR, Michigan State

Listen, do you want to stretch the field on offense? If so, Jayden Reed is 100% your guy. His ability as a route runner also makes him a perfect pick here, and a fantastic “Robin” to Drake London’s “Batman”.

Pick 161: Ivan Pace Jr., LB, Cincinnati

This is a guy who plays much bigger than his 5’10 and-a-half-inch frame. Pace is an absolute baller and adds a much needed “thumper” to this linebacker room.

Pick 226: YaYa Diaby, EDGE, Louisville

Another combine standout who just so happens to check off the “from Georgia” box that Terry Fontenot has hinted at. Diaby has a solid 6’3″ 263lb frame that would be a nice off-the-bench contributor to a defensive line that needs all the help they can get.

Pick 247: Dorian Thompson-Robinson, QB, UCLA

You really thought we weren’t going to add to the quarterback room? UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson (DTR) is a fun, athletic option who can be developed into a solid QB2 option for the Arthur Smith offense. And grabbing a guy like this, this late, feels like it’ll work.

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota

Do the Atlanta Falcons have a quarterback dilemma?

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota prepares to throw a pass during a preseason game against the New York Jets.
Photo Credit: USATSI

The Atlanta Falcons have started the season off to a 2-2 start (should probably be 3-1, but who’s counting?). This has surprised many fans and media members who expected the Falcons to be one of the worst teams in the NFL. It’s been a different look for the Falcons this season as they have been carried from a powerful rushing attack lead by journeyman running back Cordarrelle Patterson who has quickly become a fan favorite in Atlanta.

As much as there is to talk about in terms of the running game, that hasn’t been the talking point of most Falcons Twitter pundits. The biggest point of conversation for the Falcons has been the lackluster quarterback play. Many expected drop off in the quarterback position when the Falcons chose to move on from Falcons legend Matt Ryan.

Under Matt Ryan’s leadership at the quarterback position the Falcons were consistently one of the top passing attacks ranked in the top 10 in passing yards almost every season. But that era has come in gone and many people were hesitant about the Falcons quarterback plans moving forward.

The Falcons went and signed Marcus Mariota to a two-year, $18.5 million deal to be a bridge quarterback while the Falcons looked for the heir to the throne. Mariota has been pretty average according to some metrics; per ESPN and PlayerProfiler, Mariota is:

  • Passer Rating of 91.5 (ESPN)
  • Adjusted QB Rating of 49.6 for 15th in the league (ESPN)
  • RAW QB Rating of 48.6 for 17th in the league (ESPN)
  • Completion Percentage of 58.2% (ESPN)
  • PAA is -0.4 for 17th in the league(ESPN)
  • EPA is 12.2 for 20th in the league (ESPN)
  • He’s thrown five “interceptable” passes for 23rd in the league (PlayerProfiler)
  • True Completion Percentage of 63.3% for 29th in the league (PlayerProfiler)
  • Clean Pocket Completion Percentage of 65.7 for 23rd in the league (PlayerProfiler)

That’s not even counting his seven turnovers this season which is good for second in the league only behind former Falcon Matt Ryan. None of these stats are acceptable for a long-term plan at the quarterback position in today’s NFL when elite quarterbacks are what bring you championships.

The Falcons don’t have to purely rely on Marcus Mariota though, they do have another quarterback on roster who some are calling for to be named the starter. And that is rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder, the Falcons third-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

What are the traits that would make a third round rookie better than an experienced starter? The advocates for Ridder argue that he’s just as, if not better than, the level of play that the Falcons are currently receiving from Marcus Mariota. Some point to Ridder’s collegiate production which is one of the best collegiate careers of recent history.

In Ridder’s collegiate career he went above and beyond to help put Cincinnati on the map. Furthermore, he led the Bearcats to the College Football playoff as the first ever Group of Five school. During that time, Ridder also established himself as a perennial winner at Cincinnati with a 44-6 record ( 26-0 at home).

His senior year stat line? 3,334 yards 30 TD’s and eight interceptions with another 355 yards and six scores on the ground. Ridder showed in college that he has skillset that works and wins in similar ways to Mariota. So why isn’t Ridder starting? Coming into the draft, it seemed that Ridder struggled with some mechanical aspects, but the preseason showed some improvement. Alas, it seems the Falcons are in no rush to bring in the rookie, meticulously planning his development.

But what is that plan that the Falcons have for their quarterback position? Should they keep rolling out Mariota for the rest of the season while in the middle of a potential playoff push even with below average quarterback play? Do they risk throwing the team out of rhythm with a rookie? These are the questions that are being asked and leads me to ask:

Do the Atlanta Falcons have a quarterback dilemma?

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota

What should the Atlanta Falcons expect from Marcus Mariota?

The Atlanta Falcons are in uncharted waters. For the first time since 2008, Matthew Thomas Ryan is no longer the team’s quarterback. After losing out on the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes, the Falcons traded Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts on March 21st 2022 for a third-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Subsequently, that turned into rookie EDGE DeAngelo Malone.

Every Falcons fans has their own opinions about the decision to move on from the veteran signal caller. But now, the question is: what’s next for the Falcons?

New Sheriff in Town: Marcus Mariota

In the aftermath, the Falcons turned around and signed veteran journeyman quarterback and former first round pick Marcus Mariota. Mariota, a former Raider and Titan was one of the bigger names on the quarterback market this offseason. Falcons head coach Arthur Smith has familiarity with Mariota, who went on to lose his starting job to current Titans starter Ryan Tannehill in 2019 while Smith was the offensive coordinator.

After leaving the Titans in 2020, Mariota then became the backup quarterback for the Las Vegas Raiders under Derek Carr. There, he seemed to re-establish himself as the quarterback he wants to be. Mariota has previously stated “I know that I have an opportunity to get better and work with a really awesome offensive staff. I’ll be able to grow in that sense. So at the end of the day, my goal is always to be a starter and to be successful at it. I’m working towards that.”

Mariota, the former Heisman winner, is bringing that mindset of always wanting to get better and be successful to a roster in Atlanta that is in the midst of a rebuild. The franchise’s direction is changing after trading the franchise’s top two players in consecutive years.

But what does Mariota bring to the new look Falcons roster as their newest starting quarterback? Outside of Mariota’s familiarity with Smith and his offense, he brings a skillset that is very different from Ryan’s. Mariota is much more of the modern mold of quarterback that teams are looking for.

Mariota’s Dual-Threat Capabilities are Intriguing

In this play above, Marcus Mariota keeps the read option himself for a large gain on the ground. That is something the Falcons haven’t been able to do since Mike Vick was the quarterback. In today’s NFL, teams are using quarterbacks as more than just pocket passers; Mariota lets the play calling get more creative and gives Arthur Smith the freedom to call the offense he wants.

Here is another play of the Raiders relying on Mariota’s legs to make a play with another read option. Against Dallas, he breaks around the edge to scamper in for the touchdown. The way that Vegas factored in Mariota’s legs into the game plan is a way that the Falcons might choose to mimic.

Even looking at this play above from current Titans starter, Ryan Tannehill, Smith as a play caller likes to incorporate concepts that let a quarterback show off his legs if he has the ability.

But Mariota isn’t strictly a running quarterback; the former Heisman winner has the ability to sling it as a passer.

In this play above, Mariota does a great job of maintaining his poise in the pocket under pressure from the Chargers defense and delivers a bomb to Waller in stride for the touchdown.

Here, Mariota goes again hitting Pitts in stride in a similar fashion during training camp, leading the target down the sideline for what would have been a big gain if it were live.

What is Mariota’s Ceiling for the Atlanta Falcons?

As a pure player, Marcus Mariota is bringing a skillset that will bring a new energy to the team. Furthermore, it gives Arthur Smith the ability to open up the play calling to introduce some new creativity. Creativity that the team was lacking last season.

But one of the biggest things that the Falcons should expect to see? A tough player who is respected by his teammates and viewed as a leader during this rebuild. An example of that is above; Mariota throws his body on the line against the Chargers to tie the game late.

Mariota feels like the type of guy who will embrace this team and embrace this fanbase. He is one of the most notable “nice guys” of the NFL and has always been loved and respected by his fans and his teammates. In the clip above you see Mariota take time to just hang out with a fan before the game. It isn’t long, it isn’t anything major but you know an interaction like that will leave a lasting impression. And that is what being a fan favorite is about.

He isn’t Matt Ryan, he will never be Matt Ryan, but Mariota is a guy who is going to be great for the team and for the locker room. He brings a different skillset and demeanor to the fold, and that isn’t a bad thing for the rebuilding Falcons.

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