The Falcons finished 7-10 in their first season under Arthur Smith, an improvement from their 4-12 season in 2020 and an encouraging start to Smith’s tenure. That being said, Atlanta is going to look quite different in 2022. For the first time in 15 years, somebody other than Matt Ryan will be under center for the Falcons in Week 1. Atlanta traded their long-time QB to the Colts in March for Indianapolis’ 3rd-round pick this year. The leading candidate to replace Ryan (at least right away) is Marcus Mariota, who the Falcons signed to a 2-year deal earlier this offseason.
Atlanta heads into the 2022 Draft with nine picks, including the 8th overall pick and two picks in both the second and third rounds (thanks to the Ryan trade and last year’s Julio Jones trade with the Titans). That is good news for a club that has work to do all around the roster.
The two most pressing needs are at edge rusher and wide receiver. Last season, the Falcons finished with a league-worst 18 sacks, which was 11 fewer than any other team. Signing OLB Lorenzo Carter (5 sacks in 2021) in free agency was a start, but look for Atlanta to target pass rushers in the draft. It would likely take a trade up to land either Aidan Hutchinson (Michigan) or Kayvon Thibodeaux (Oregon), and given the Falcons have other needs and have multiple picks in both the 2nd and 3rd rounds, that type of move would come as a surprise. Other DEs like Travon Walker (Georgia) or Jermaine Johnson II (Florida State) could also be an option at No. 8.
The Falcons lost two top WRs this offseason. WR Calvin Ridley is suspended indefinitely for betting on games during the 2021 season, and last year’s leading WR Russell Gage signed with the division rival Buccaneers in free agency. That leaves TE Kyle Pitts and WR Olamide Zaccheaus as Mariota’s top pass-catching options, meaning the Falcons are a team primed to take a wide receiver or two in this year’s draft.
Click here for the entire 2022 NFL Draft order and keep reading to see where the Falcons will be making picks in the 2022 NFL Draft. Coverage of the latest news from around the NFL is available all year round on PFT’s Peacock channel.
Atlanta Falcons 2022 Draft Picks:
Round 1: No. 8 – Drake London, WR, USC
Round 2: No. 38 (from NYG via NYJ via CAR) – Arnold Ebiketie, DE, Penn State
Round 2: No 58 (from TEN) – Troy Andersen, LB, Montana State
Round 3: No. 74 – Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
Round 3: No. 82 (from IND) – DeAngelo Malone, LB, Western Kentucky
Round 5: No. 151 – Tyler Allgeier, RB, BYU
Round 6: No. 190 – Justin Shaffer, G, Georgia
Round 6: No.213 – John FitzPatrick, TE, Georgia
Check out draft picks for other teams in the NFC South