Atlanta Falcons 2023 NFL Draft: Team Needs and Top Targets

    What are the most pressing Atlanta Falcons draft needs? With the 2023 NFL Draft almost here, let's dive into which positional gaps they might fill.

    With the NFL Draft around the corner, the rebuilding Atlanta Falcons look poised to take another step forward in 2023. What are their biggest team needs ahead of the draft, and which targets might be most appealing for an NFC South squad in contention for a divisional title?

    Atlanta Falcons Team Needs Ahead of NFL Draft

    • WR
    • EDGE
    • IDL
    • CB

    The Falcons hold seven picks in this year’s NFL Draft, beginning with the No. 8 overall selection. In fact, they hold five of the top 113 picks, giving them more top-heavy leverage than most other teams in the league.

    Essentially, Atlanta has the collateral to package some picks for a better selection, and they also have the flexibility to, say, trade down with a mid-round pick to tack on an extra fifth- or sixth-rounder.

    At QB, Desmond Ridder might be the answer ahead of this season. But the Falcons also acquired Taylor Heinicke, who proved in Washington that he can (at times) elevate his offense.

    More: FREE NFL Mock Draft Simulator With Trades!

    As a result, the Falcons might be in the market for another wide receiver to help bring out the best in whichever quarterback sits atop the depth chart. It’s a bad year for teams to need wide receivers, yet it appears most teams need them, including Atlanta.

    Drake London is the team’s top dog, along with unicorn Kyle Pitts at tight end. But Atlanta needs more than that to compete for a playoff spot — if not this year, then at least in 2024. They signed Mack Hollins, who played his best football last year for the all-too-often receiver-needy Raiders. Yet, Hollins is entering his age-30 campaign and isn’t a long-term option opposite London.

    The Falcons have added name upon name to their EDGE group. Arnold Ebiketie was underwhelming as a rookie but has upside. Bud Dupree fits a need as a run defender, and Lorenzo Carter, Adetokunbo Ogundeji, and DeAngelo Malone could all find contributing roles.

    But adding a high-end talent with the eighth pick in the NFL Draft could take Ryan Nielsen’s defense to the next level.

    Predictions and Top Targets for Every Falcons Draft Pick

    We used PFN’s Free Mock Draft Simulator to project some realistic targets for the Falcons at each of their draft positions. Here’s a breakdown of the results.

    Round 1, Pick 7 | Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State

    Atlanta took 37 sacks last year and 40 the year before. They were also fourth in the league, averaging an impressive 4.9 yards per carry. Still only 21 years old, Paris Johnson Jr. could help anchor a high-end offensive line for years to come.

    Round 2, Pick 43 | Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame

    A fascinating target, Michael Mayer would free up Pitts (4.44 40-yard speed) to play all over the field more frequently as a true hybrid WR/TE.

    Round 3, Pick 74 | Andre Carter II, Edge, Army

    Andre Carter II gives some needed punch for a team that’s struggled with the pass rush. Atlanta finished second-to-last in 2022 with only 21 sacks against opposing quarterbacks.

    Round 4, Pick 109 | Xavier Hutchinson, WR, Iowa State

    Average speed and not the best hands (six drops in his final collegiate season). Xavier Hutchinson likely would battle KhaDarel Hodge for the No. 3 WR role out of the gate, and the team would hope he’d eventually push Hollins for an every-down starting job.

    Round 4, Pick 112 | McClendon Curtis, G, Chattanooga

    More bolstering of the offensive line. At 6’6″ and 324 pounds, McClendon Curtis possesses the size and versatility — with experience playing guard as well as tackle — to contribute immediately as a rotational player at most and as a valued reserve at minimum.

    Round 7, Pick 223 | Chris Rodriguez Jr., RB, Kentucky

    Elijah Mitchell and Isiah Pacheco serve as weekly reminders that starter-caliber running backs can fall to the sixth and seventh rounds. Chris Rodriguez Jr. could fall into the same realm.

    Round 7, Pick 224 | Jovaughn Gwyn, G, South Carolina

    An interesting mock pick and one that — if it played out this way — would suggest the Falcons are committed to beefing up their o-line to help give their relatively young offense the space and time to develop.

    Listen to the PFN Scouting Podcast

    Listen to the PFN Scouting Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Scouting Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.  Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review! Rather watch instead? Check out the PFN Scouting Podcast on our Scouting YouTube channel.

    Related Articles