ATLANTA — The Falcons will have the No. 8 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, following a 30-17 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday to close out the 2022 regular season.
Based on schedule strength and a win over Tampa Bay, the Falcons’ draft position improved/dropped one slot.
Like last season, the pass rush remains a looming topic for the Falcons heading into the offseason. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees said at a Jan. 5 press conference that “you always want a pass rusher, because it’s a passing league.”
Atlanta’s defense has one of the worst sack totals in the NFL with 21, according to Statmuse. The outside linebacker corps of Ade Ogundeji, Lorenzo Carter, DeAngelo Malone and Arnold Ebiketie racked up 9.5 of those sacks. Jarrett and Abdullah Anderson, who are both on the defensive line, had seven of those sacks. Bringing in more pass rush talent to flesh out depth and help release Jarrett will be an area of focus heading into the draft. Georgia’s Jalen Carter and Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr. are the top two passing throwers entering the 2023 draft, but they could be gone before the Falcons’ pick. Clemson’s Myles Murphy could be an option, however, when the Falcons are on the clock.
Drafting a defensive back may be another option for the Falcons’ first-round pick. This group of positions has had its share of ups and downs this season, after losing veteran Casey Hayward to a right shoulder injury. Darren Hall and Cornell Armstrong both shot in Hayward’s place, but there wasn’t much consistency in that area. This season, the Falcons have allowed on average 231.9 passing yards per game.
With Hayward’s return yet to be set in stone despite being contracted through 2023, could the Falcons consider signing a defensive back to play on the opposite side of AJ Terrell? It could definitely help. Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez, a physical 6-foot-2 cornerback who is effective in men’s coverage and has a good instinctive conscience, leads the 2023 draft class.
On the offensive side of the ball, the quarterback position is one more option the Falcons could look to draft for. With Marcus Mariota unlikely to return next season, that leaves Desmond Ridder and Logan Woodside. Ridder has done well and has steadily improved over his last four games in terms of decision-making, patience and accuracy. Statistically, Ridder’s numbers have also gone up, but is four games enough to assess a player with the future in mind? This is the biggest question.
Even if Ridder remains the starting quarterback for next season, drafting another elite and dynamic point guard will help build depth. Ohio State’s CJ Stroud and Florida’s Anthony Richardson lead the 2023 draft class for quarterbacks.
So that begs the question, what position will the Falcons hold heading into this year’s draft? The countdown begins until April 27.